SEPT 8-OCT 13, 2020

This 6-week online class with artist Christian Patterson focuses on photography, concept, narrative and the book form, and finding ways to bring the power of each of these things to bear on a single, well-realized book project, utilizing the essential steps of editing, sequence, layout and design.

Patterson will share insights into the creative process behind his critically-acclaimed and influential books including Redheaded Peckerwood and Bottom of the Lake. He will also share aspects of his current work, an ambitiously large, multi-year project called Gong Co. Patterson will share how he has guided his projects from conception to completion, and how his ideas are realized as books that utilize various aspects of the codex and overall book form.

Patterson has said, “My work is conceptually-grounded, narratively-driven and visually-layered. It’s inspired by an idea, explored through a story, and realized through creative daydreaming, photographic seeing and an openness to other mediums and multidisciplinary play. I tend to take a fairly analytical and systematic approach, which provides a sort of spine to the body of work as it develops and grows. But eventually, it takes on a life and looseness of its own. The book form is very important and special to me, and a special means to crafting and realizing work. I’m continually amazed by the adaptability and malleability of both photography and the book form. When those two things work together well, mysterious and powerful things can happen.”

In this class, Patterson will also identify the essential steps to successful photographic bookmaking and share thoughts on best practices, and when rules should be broken. Most importantly, Patterson and class participants will spend concentrated time viewing participants’ work, having an open exchange of thoughts and ideas. “My class has a few simple but important goals: to step outside ourselves for a moment, to consider our own work and processes in relation to the book form in new, different complementary and effective ways and, most importantly, to move each other forward.”


Presented below are a few key program highlights in description of the activities to take place during Christian’s masterclass. A fully detailed masterclass program including the list of materials to have ready before the start of the class, logins to upload portfolios and Zoom invitations, as well as any planned pre-assignments is provided once enrolment is confirmed.

• in-depth artist lecture on Christian’s projects and books highlighting his bookmaking approaches based on concept and narrative
• review of other significant artist books as case studies to highlight a variety of successful design strategies and bookmaking practices current today
• concentrated time on each participant’s book project at both early and more advanced stages to clarify ideas, optimize editing and sequencing flow, and strengthen narrative structure
• emphasis on fine tuning coherent design choices through the bookmaking process from photographs as printed objects, then as handmade maquettes, and finally as the final production ready book form
• participants get some of their final edits and texts published in print by FotoFilmic in a special Masterclass Edition of JRNL and receive a free copy in the mail


Cover image: © Christian Patterson, from the book Redheaded Peckerwood, MACK, 2011.

© Christian Patterson, from the book Bottom of the Lake, Koenig Book, 2015.

© Christian Patterson, from the book Bottom of the Lake, Koenig Book, 2015.

© Christian Patterson, from the book Redheaded Peckerwood, MACK, 2011.

© Christian Patterson, from the book Redheaded Peckerwood, MACK, 2011.


Portrait of Christian © Joe Leavenworth

Christian Patterson is an American artist. His critically-acclaimed book Redheaded Peckerwood is a work with a tragic underlying narrative – the story of a teenage couple and a murder spree across Nebraska in the winter of 1958. The book blurs the boundaries between then and now, fiction and non-fiction. Gerry Badger described it as “a profound demonstration of photography’s ineffability and its power to resurrect a past event and make it relevant for a contemporary audience” and “a complex and challenging commentary on the photographic medium itself.” The book includes photographs, documents, drawings, hand-painted signs and tipped-in paper facsimiles. It won the Recontres d’Arles Author Book Award, sold out three printings and closed Badger and Martin Parr’s The Photobook: A History, Volume III. Patterson’s next book, Bottom of the Lake, took the form of an artist book within a book — a meticulous reproduction of his family’s copy of the 1973 Fond du Lac Telephone Directory, from the time of the artist’s birth, and the place of his hometown. The book includes photographs, documents, drawings and its own telephone number which connects to audio experiences that further enliven the book. It was shortlisted for the Paris Photo- Aperture Foundation Photobook Award. Patterson is currently working on his most ambitious project to date, Gong Co. His conceptually-grounded, narratively-driven, visually-layered work has been described as novelistic, subjective documentary of the historical past, and often deals with themes of the archive, authorship, memory, place and time. While photography lies at the heart of Patterson’s work, they are often mixed with other mediums, including drawings, paintings, objects and sound. Patterson is a self-taught artist but he has lectured, mentored and taught others widely. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and his work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and J. Paul Getty Museum.