People. Not Pages: Janko Bosch
With the “People. Not Pages” mini-interview series The Phooks invites you to learn more about people who stand behind the medium of self- & indie-published photobooks, and zines.
This time we talk to Janko Bosch, a photographer and art director living in Zaandam, The Netherlands. He runs “Zaptronic” — a small publisher “of creative books with pictures”— which is not limited to photography-based projects, but also produces illustrated books and comics.
Janko was the first artist who joined The Phooks with two books in April this year. And we’re happy to introduce his new recently published zine with this interview.
His work is noticeably full of attention to detail. Urban landscape scenes are still and intact, free of noise and interruption which makes every image beautiful itself.
But they create a very special mood and feel when enjoyed in a series.
Let’s greet Janko.
How do you live and make your living?
I’m an Art-director (digital) for one of the major Dutch newspapers. I work part-time and the rest of the week I spend on my photography projects.
How did you get into photography?
As a kid, I was heavily into drawing and comics but photography was always there as a secondary focus.
My father loves photography so there were always cameras around the house and during family trips.
I remember the first time I got my own roll of film with a small camera. It was during a school trip to the islands in The Netherlands.
For a long time, photography was something on the side and I pursued drawing more actively. I followed darkroom lessons at the art academy and made one or two small photozines at the time.
Until I was done drawing years ago and decided to pursue photography fully.
What do you value the most in the art of photography?
Photography is so diverse which makes it very interesting for me. There are so many small-press publishers and photographers who publish their own work and with that, so many different views on photography. My preference is mainly art photography.
I don’t see myself as a documentary or street photographer. I always strive for a visually interesting image. My work is often about environments where we live. It’s the type of work that I find interesting to do.
Is there something you hate about it?
There are certain things that I don’t find so interesting.
When I walk in photo museums I often feel that photography is in a bit of existential crisis. Photos have become so common and in the search for interesting photography, I see a lot of work in which the experiment predominates. I don’t find much of that work interesting.
How many books you have and what does your collection means to you?
I lost count of the number of books I have. My collection consists of photobooks, comics, children’s books and books on graphic design. A few of them I carry around most of my life.
In the picture, you see one of the bookshelves we have around the house. Just too many books.
Is there a photobook you admire?
My taste in photobooks continues to change. So there’s not one photobook I admire. As said I do love all sorts of books with pictures. A graphic image can inspire me to chase a whole photographic project.
“Caboto” by Lorenzo Mattotti
This is one of my favorite comic books.
“Batman Animated” by Paul Dini and Chip Kidd
This book is very special to me not only because of sentimental reasons (my girlfriend gave it to me) but also because I love the art style and seeing sketches how this great look has come about is really inspiring to me.
“Africa” by Herb Ritts
One of the few coffee table photobooks I own which I found in the local library when I was a teenager.
Later I was lucky enough to find a copy. Although it’s probably not a book I would pick up today Herb Ritt’s pictures still amaze me. The beautiful mood and grey tones it all works great together.
“Kate” by Mario Sorrenti
One of the latest books I added to my collection. Great pictures and beautifully produced.
What should a book be to get into your collection?
Images, typography, size, paper, design, smell… everything should work together in a great book. So to be added to my collection, a book has to be made with care and attention.
What does it mean to turn your work into a book or a zine format?
For me, a photozine is the natural end result of a project. I have made zines and books all my life so for me it’s a normal way of working.
In the last nine years, I’ve focused on urban landscapes as I’m interested in the cities we live in, and I love to go to a place where I just wander around.
My ‘Daido’s backyard’ zine is a very good example of this. I wandered around in Shinjuku and close neighborhoods for two weeks. The city landscape is rich for different lines and shapes but also lives in so uncommon mode of life compared to what I’m used to. This makes it such a great place to photograph.
I used a similar approach in my latest project, while “A lizard walked beside me in the desert” is not about a particular part of Iran but focusses more on the overall feels I got from the country. It contains a lot of objects and fragments but also general street views.
Iran is a fascinating country with a great history and great landscapes. Since the sanctions, the country has been in a downward spiral. It’s something you can see anywhere.
With this project, I didn’t want to address standard media narratives such as political tensions and women's rights but rather to focus on unobtrusive daily scenes.
Completing this trip with a photozine was a very satisfying outcome and this zine means a lot to me.
What do you expect people should feel when opening your book?
In general, I hope people are interested in the work when they pick up the book. But I love when a zine or book has its unique consistent mood that works for the specific project.
For me, it means the mood dictates the way I photograph, how I edit the project, how I use a specific color palette that fits the zine and that the design matches the mood as well. I hope it all helps to create a work with a meaning and that readers understand it when they pick up the book.
Readers don’t necessarily have to understand the work directly but I do hope they catch consistent mood throughout the book, which supports their curiosity and ignites the imagination to interpret the pictures themselves.