We couldn't help but jump on board when Newport, University of Wales MA graduate Huw Alden Davies announced a Kickstarter campaign for his brand new book, Scaffold to the Moon.
Huw has been kind enough to keep us updated with the progress of his campaign and we really wanted to bring you more of an insight on launch day. Head across to Photograd social media channels today to see more of Huw's work, and be sure to stick around for when the Documentary Photographer takes over our Instagram from 2nd - 6th October. We're very excited to be supporting Huw on his next adventure.
Tell us about your work. What's this series about? To begin with Prince was simply a project between projects, to keep me photographing while occupied with the development of my teaching practice. Little did I know that it would soon became my most defining project thus far, leading me on a path to self discovery. This is an age-old story of boy to man; father and son; fools and heros; told, I like to think from a relative but fresh perspective. With the focus of much of my practice centered on Tumble (my home village), it is only natural that my attention would shift to one of its biggest characters, and that character just so happens to be my dad.
How has this work evolved to be at the stage you are now? Rewind two years, 2015, with Prince (my first publication) in the final stages of production, I was asked by Ffotogallery if I would contribute to an online IG artist residency as part of the Diffusion Festival, and bang that was it. Locked in a transatlantic to-and-fro with Detroit Photographer, Patricia Lay Dorsey, something new happened. A voice that had been exercised, I assume during my writings for Prince begun to take a hold, and with the encouragement I received from both Dorsey and my peers, this was soon a voice that would not quiet.
Now, nearly 40,000 words later, almost ten thousand views on Prince Street (blog), numerous international festivals and exhibitions, and a prize winner in this years ESPY Photo Award Book Prize, it is only fitting that my most obsessive and all consuming body of work be concluded in a complete collection, entitled Scaffold to the Moon, which will contain an assembly of illustrations, photographs and writings that celebrate the man that should have once been my role model.
What encouraged you to turn to crowdfunding for support? For me at this stage in my photographic career, this seems like the most obvious direction. Throughout the years I have had a massive amount of support from the Arts Council of Wales, and I have always tried to fund as much as I can myself, but with a project of this size and nature neither is an option. Self Publishing can be a very expensive game, in an unpredictable market with no guaranteed success.
Therefore, although it’s not everyone’s first choice, Crowd-funding for me provides a certain level of security based on pre-sales. Here I will have the opportunity to sell a percentage of my book before it is even made, which will provide the funds to make it, it just makes more sense. On the flip side, it might not reach the finish line. That’s said, if does not get funded it does not get made. Everyone walks away with no debt, with a slight exception of your pride and reputation, of course.
However, I am confident in my work. Besides the hundreds of hours that have gone into the production, I have invested a significant amount of time and effort in promoting and exhibiting the work, which has gained a lot of support, publicity and interest. I am positive that I have a solid plan, I know what I am going to do, and I know how much it’s going to cost to do it. I have a good understanding of my market, and I believe I have something that people will be interested in, although, as with anything there are no absolutes, at least beyond my dedication. I am however, working with the right team of people to make this happen. With that said, once I have launched the Kickstarter, it’s all beyond our control and all I can do is hope that people want what I have to offer.
Tell us about some of your Kickstarter rewards and what supporters can expect from donating. During the last few months I have conducted a large degree of research, speaking to some of the industries most experienced practitioners to ensure that I have covered every angle and that each backer feels part of the project, and although Scaffold to the Moon will be the main focus there will be a variety of rewards available to suit a range of interests. These will include early bird rewards, double book rewards, book and print packages, and a collector edition. I also appreciate, that some might want to support the project without any financial impact; all support is vital to the success of the campaign, so I have tailored smaller and more affordable rewards for those who want to help me make this publication happen. These will include signed copies of Prince my first publication, or video rewards and regular exclusive material straight to their inbox.
Who inspires you the most? Many have inspired my direction and many continue to do so, too many to list here. However, if we were to discuss bookmakers, my immediate response would be Clare Richardson, she was the first who inspired my intention towards bookmaking and the narratives offered by this medium. Although, looking at some of the leading modern examples of self-publishing, I am very much smitten by Jack Latham and Michal Iwanawski’s recent contributions to the world of Photobooks, there is a lot going on right now on this side of photography, and I am excited by the prospect bringing Prince’s world to this new wave.
What's your ultimate goal for the future of your work? If I told you… I would have to make a book about it!
Although, I can say having crossed mediums more than once or twice in recent years, I feel the future is a multi-media one, but who knows. The one thing I do know is that it will be visual and it will involve a lot more of Tumble. But for now, it’s all about Prince and getting him to the page.
Have you got any tips or advice? For what it's worth, if I was to give any advice I would probably say, If you want to do something to the best of your ability I have learned to ask those who have done it best. Open up to other views and criticism and talk to as many practitioners as possible; ask for their advice, for they have made all the mistakes that you are likely to make. They will know the pitfalls, they will also see the best and worst in you and your work, to which you will likely be blind.
If you are going to do something, I was taught to do it to the best of your ability, so if it is close to your heart then take your time with it, keep working things until you are confident that you have got it right. Better to kick yourself trying, than kick yourself for not giving it your all.