Tell us about the birth of Witty Kiwi Books.
Witty Kiwi is a small publishing house for photography, founded with the intention to promote independent photography and documentation through the publication of photo books and zines. The project was born in December of 2012. Wanting to give more weight to my own ideas, and tired of how the internet sometimes dilutes everything into simple clicks, I wanted to transform first of all my own, and later on the projects of others into tangible form. To give it a more firm idea, using printed paper.
The project Witty Kiwi was born to showcase my own photographic work, and has gradually morphed into its own form: first by involving other authors; subsequently becoming the magazine which always involves more and more photographers. Up to the point where my active role has become that of main editor.
You do reviews, publish books and zines, and a magazine. Is WK a one man show or do you get help?
For now it’s just me at WK. I’m a real all-rounder. I take care of both the curatorial part as well as the editing, the graphics and especially the financial part.
However, especially regarding to the blog, there is some degree of collaboration, especially for interviews and reviews.
How do you find and approach the artists you work with?
As for the blog, if I find a project that I really like I ask firsthand a participation to the blog, otherwise I review the different submissions that I receive via email.
The situation is different for the editorial; in this case I contact the author asking to work with him. Often the authors I choose are related to my idea of photography; the research is based on documentary photography or on independent and intimate works.
The only exception is the online section of the magazine, for which there is an open call where everyone can submit their own work.
What have been the best and worst parts of WK so far?
Witty Kiwi is a project that grows one step at a time and keeps giving me new emotions. The greatest satisfaction is undoubtedly to receive an accolade for what you do, when someone is interested in a concrete way in your projects you feel pride; especially when there are prominent galleries or institutions interested in your products.
I have to say that there were some real hard times; perhaps a little difficulty materialized at the beginning, when finding a response in the environment was not very easy.
What do you say to those who think the photobook is dead?
I believe that the photobook is one of the greatest expressions to represent a photographic project. Although we often have the feeling that digital gains the upper hand over paper, now more than ever thanks to independent publishing, the photo book is a real milestone for a photographer. Today many authors choose how to promote their photographic project, by self-publishing or independent publishing, as a testimony. The photobook has developed into a real phenomenon, both as a means of disclosure and of the collection: this is probably thanks the crisis of traditional publishing.
What plans does WK have for the future?
Very soon there will be two new publications. The first is the 5th volume of the geozine series; the second will be a book by two authors, which will have a completely new imprint.
For September we will have the third volume of the Witty Mag, which will be innovative… but I don’t want to spill the beans yet!
Tommaso Parrillo was born in 1989 in the South of Italy. He is a freelance documentary photographer. He currently lives in Turin.