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The story of one woman's journey to love after a divorce presented in a 150-page hand-finished artist's book.
The story of one woman's journey to love after a divorce presented in a 150-page hand-finished artist's book.
211 backers pledged $23,350 to help bring this project to life.

About

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After That August by Michelle Yee

$23,350

211

UPDATE! While we have already reached our initial goal, any additional funds raised will be put towards making the book even better. 

If we can hit the STRETCH GOAL of $25,000, each book will include a gorgeous slipcase, as shown in the rendering.

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After That August the story of one woman's journey to love after a divorce, presented in an thoughtfully-designed and hand-finished 150-page artist's book.

This is a story of what came after the end, after the "happily ever after" was over; it is a personal, nonfiction narrative told through the artist's writing, photography, and ephemera. 

A rendering of proposed designs for the book + slip cover (left) and the book solo (right).
A rendering of proposed designs for the book + slip cover (left) and the book solo (right).

The Artist

Michelle Yee (b.1976) is an award-winning Asian-Canadian artist, photographer, writer and co-founder of SOFIA, a collective for women working in photography. 

As a multidisciplinary artist and storyteller, Michelle uses a variety of mediums in her reflections on the personal, exploring the themes of relationships, family, identity, transformation, and self-discovery.

After That August is her first book project.


The Back Story

The road to After That August was long.

I've been writing since childhood. And while I'd established myself as a photographer, I'd always harboured a secret belief that, one day, I'd be a writer too.

It was January 1st, 2015 when I'd finally decided: it was time to write my book.


Three. Years. Later: I was still writing that book. Meanwhile, my entire life changed. The house was sold and the divorce became final. After 14 years in Toronto, I finally pulled up my Canadian roots and moved to New York City to start over at 40. 

While I continued to write through the change, that book was nowhere near finished.



The Story

Then, August 2018. I went on an unplanned, last-minute, month-long, bucket list trip with a man I'd been seeing. Upon our return, I made a photo album-slash-trip book, with nice pictures of pretty places. Everyone smiling no matter what. 

But I knew. Not everything was pretty. And in my mind, a question lingered:

If I was ever going to tell this story, how would I do it? 

After That August is that story.



The Book as Art

I've always loved books, especially ones that could surprise and delight like the books I'd experienced as a child. As a storyteller and artist, I loved the notion that a person's understanding of a story could be deepened or somehow affected by a book's physical qualities, the idea that a book could be designed as a reflection of the very story it carries within. 

I wanted to create art in the form of a book.


The Craft of Bookmaking

Producing books of this calibre is an artisanal craft; many facets require a human touch. It is in those elements of handwork -- the stamping, the sewing, the bindery process itself -- that renders each book unique and its own work of art. While still made to exacting standards, by virtue of the process itself, no two books will be exactly alike. 


Book Specifications

The finished book will have a foil-stamped, linen-wrapped hard cover, contain approximately 150 pages, and its dimensions will be 6" wide x 8.75" tall. 

Each book will be hand-finished, signed, and numbered by the artist.

The books will be printed in Canada.


The Exposed Spine, part 1

An example of an exposed spine with smyth-sewn binding.
An example of an exposed spine with smyth-sewn binding.

The book will have an exposed spine with Smyth Sewn binding, a binding known as the hallmark of library quality, archival safe books.

A spine with this kind of binding is able to lay flat, thus allowing the viewer to see everything, without any loss to the gutter (the centre margin / seam / middle part a book). 

After That August is book that is intimate in both content and scale. Yet, by design, it will also be a book that can be splayed wide open. A book in which its very spine, a core element that is typically kept hidden away, will instead be left intentionally unmasked.



The Exposed Spine, part 2 

A rare example of an exposed spine that was likely designed with intention.
A rare example of an exposed spine that was likely designed with intention.

While leaving a book's spine exposed is already an uncommon practice, in the ingenious hands of our printer, this was also a gift. 

They saw the opportunity in this typically underutilized space and developed a way to add an element of design: by printing on it! And as those printed slivers align to become the book's spine, an image is formed in its composite. 



 The Double Gatefold 

An illustration of double gatefold.
An illustration of double gatefold.

As a kid, I loved books that I could interact with; books with windows to open, tabs to pull, things unfolding. In this book, I wanted to recreate that experience of discovery, of something being concealed and then revealed. Enter: the double gatefold. 

(Spoiler alert: there will be one in the book). 



Foil Stamping

A hot-foil stamping machine.
A hot-foil stamping machine.

I've always loved book titles that you could touch and feel. As such, the book's title will be embossed and stamped with gold foil on a black linen cover.


 Hand Finishing 

Not my hands.
Not my hands.

As an archivist and diarist, dates are important to me. I am especially interested in the meanings that we give to specific dates and how the cyclical nature of our yearly calendars allows for these dates to acquire layers of meanings over time. 

I wanted to communicate this through physical layering in the book and it is only possible to execute this idea by hand, one book at a time.


 Design + Typesetting

A rendered layout from the book.
A rendered layout from the book.

For the design and typesetting of the book, I collaborated with London-based graphic designer, Alexia Lim.  

Here are more sample layouts from the book:

Additional Creative Partners

The books will be printed by Andora Graphics

The trailer for After That August was co-created with Alex Kurina


A rendered sneak peek at more layouts from the book.
A rendered sneak peek at more layouts from the book.

The Post-Kickstarter Future

Assuming our campaign goal is met (!!), this Kickstarter is currently the ONLY guaranteed way to acquire this book and, as such, is in effect, a limited pre-order.

While I certainly hope that the success of this project will allow for After That August to have a life beyond Kickstarter and potentially be made available in different forms / formats, at this stage I cannot guarantee it will be made available again.




The Rewards

Postcards from SF

I love receiving handwritten notes in the mail and would love to bring that joy to others! I will be designing a postcard, printing them on a nice card stock and sending them out with gratitude by mail. All support is greatly appreciated -- you are helping me make this dream come true!




The Diptychs

Diptych option 1.
Diptych option 1.

Each diptych is comprised of two 8X12" limited-edition signed prints, featuring images from the book. Each diptych is 1 of 100. 

Backers with pledges that include this reward can choose any one of the shown four diptychs. Once the campaign ends, you will be emailed a survey for your address (so I know where to ship your artworks).  At that time, you will be asked for your diptych selection.

Diptych option 2.
Diptych option 2.
Diptych option 3.
Diptych option 3.
Diptych option 4
Diptych option 4

Project Timeline

  • End of May: Design Finalization + File Submission

Assuming the completion of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, the book's design will be finalized and then sent off to the printer. At present, the book is 97% complete.


  • June-July: Production + Shipping (Phase I)

The process begins with a "one-off" book being made to according to its exact design specifications and then physically sent to me. Once approved, the first edition print run of the books will be made. 

Once all books are produced, they are shipped en masse from Toronto to me in San Francisco.


  • August-September: Completion + Fulfillment 

This is when my life (and apartment) will become eclipsed by books. 

All books produced in this first edition print run will travel the length of my dining room table as I steadily endeavour to hand-finish, sign, and number each individual book.


  • October-November: Shipping (Phase II aka to you!)

Each book will be securely packaged, individually addressed and then delivered, en masse, to my local post office where they will be begin their journeys, across land and sea, to you.



Production Budget

If we hit the minimum and no more, all the funds will go back into the manufacture, freight and delivery of 250 books. If the order goes over 250 books, the cost per unit begins to go down, but the cost of shipping goes up. 

That said, unless this project really takes off, all of the months I've already spent: (1) writing, shooting, editing, and designing the original story, plus (2) the time required for overseeing the design and production of the books and additional rewards, and (3) hand-finishing and packaging of the books and rewards -- will have been a labour of love.


Cost Breakdown 

  • Printing and Binding in Canada: $15,000 
  • Shipping to San Francisco from Toronto: $2,000
  • Distribution (sturdy packaging materials + shipping [to US addresses only; shipping to other countries is additional, as noted in the rewards section]): $1250
  • Additional Rewards: $500
  • Book Design and Typesetting: $1,800
  • Licensing (Fonts, ISBN): $500
  • Marketing (Trailer Production): $1,750
  • Kickstarter takes 5%, and plus another 3-5% for payment processing
  • Which puts us at approximately $25,000 USD


About Michelle Yee

For over a decade in Canada, Michelle built a career as an award-winning photographer, whose commissioned subject matter ranged wide and far. Her list of past clients include Mercedes-Benz, VICE, BUST Magazine, The Associated Press (UK), The Globe and Mail, University of Toronto, Public Health Ontario, and Royal Bank of Canada. 

In 2014, Michelle co-founded SOFIA, a women's photography collective that worked to connect, educate, inspire and support women working in photography. During her 4-year tenure with SOFIA, the collective held two group exhibitions and launched a mentorship program, in which emerging women photographers were mentored by participating SOFIA members for a year.

Since the fall of 2017, Michelle has been living in the USA and is currently based in San Francisco.



Michelle in the Press

 VICE x Mercedes Benz // Tech Tonic: Part One 

 VICE x Mercedes Benz // Tech Tonic: Part Two 

 The Fader // 4 DIY Canadian Collectives You Should Know 

 CBC Arts.ca // All-female Toronto photo collective SOFIA is on their worst behaviour 

 Applied Arts Magazine // Collective Agreement 

 Flash Forward // Female Dynamics: The Presence of Women in Commercial Photography 

Risks and challenges

When planning any large project, it's always safer to assume that at least one thing won't go as planned. Shipments get held up at borders. Machines break down. Things happen. As an experienced producer of many large-scale endeavours with complicated logistics, I know to expect the unexpected and, as such, have added buffers of extra time in the production schedule to allow for this.

If some unforeseen event occurs that significantly affects my ability to meet backers' expectations, I will be sure keep everyone informed and updated as the project progresses.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 1 or more About US$ 1

    Heartfelt Gratitude

    Every dollar counts and is appreciated. Thank you for contributing and helping to make this dream a reality. All supporters will receive updates by email as things progress!

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    5 backers
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    Pledge US$ 15 or more About US$ 15

    A Postcard from SF

    Receive a handwritten note of thanks, sent by mail!

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    67 backers
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    Pledge US$ 110 or more About US$ 110

    The Book

    Each book will be hand-finished, numbered, and signed by the artist.

    Includes:
    • the book
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    Pledge US$ 150 or more About US$ 150

    Patron Level

    Receive the book and in thanks for your support, you have the option of having your name printed in the book's acknowledgments. All pledges at this level and higher include this.

    Includes:
    • the book
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 350 or more About US$ 350

    The Book + Diptych

    Receive the book, plus your choice of one of four available diptychs (as outlined in The Rewards section). Each diptych is comprised of two limited-edition signed 8X12" prints. Each is 1 of 100.

    Includes:
    • the book
    • a diptych of your choosing
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    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    The Book + Limited-Edition 20x24" Print

    Receive the book, signed an personalized; as well as a 20x24" limited-edition signed print of your choice from selected collection of images (edition of 8).

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 3,000 or more About US$ 3,000

    The Book + Portrait Session

    Receive the book, signed & personalized; a portrait session with Michelle Yee; and a 20X24” print of finished image. (Any travel expenses are not included.)

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Funding period

- (30 days)