Jerry Sohn and Nina Holland at work on the new projects. photos: Ayea Sohn and Anthony Wilson

About Little Steidl

Little Steidl began in 2005 as an imprint of Steidl Publishers, developing artist’s books with Lawrence Weiner (Something to Put Something On), John Baldessari (Miracle Chips), Graciela Iturbide (asor), and Chuck Close (Scribble Book: Self-Portrait). Our creative collaboration with Gerhard Steidl was rooted in our shared enthusiasm for fine craftsmanship, and, over the years, our relationship opened unexpected possibilities for our work as bookmakers. Steidl graciously extended himself as a mentor, taught Nina Holland how to print, and finally encouraged us to venture out from under the Steidl umbrella to carry on the tradition of creative bookmaking as independent publishers.

In 2012 we did indeed take up this challenge. We registered Little Steidl as a separate publishing house in Göttingen, and have since operated independently of our mentor and former creative partner Steidl – albeit right next door and in continuing friendship and dialogue.

Our primary interest is books made by artists, designers, architects, chefs, and other inventive individuals. All Little Steidl books are original, creative works that are realized using the materials and techniques of offset lithography and bookmaking. Far more than a standardized, efficient, commercial printing process, offset lithography can be a broadly expressive medium for visual work and, when employed with skill and creative flexibility, has a rightful place among the more esteemed printing techniques used in the fine arts. No one has proven this point better than Steidl, and no one has been a stronger advocate for maintaining the printing press under the roof and under the control of the publisher him/herself.

Our name remains the same, Little Steidl. It reminds us of our heritage and our inspiration. It reminds us of our responsibilities as a second generation. And it reminds us to approach each new project as beginners, open to a wide world of undiscovered possibilities – or, in the words of the novelist Umberto Pasti, with the dogged passion of the neophyte.

The “little” in our name also indicates our chosen work methods. There are only two of us: Nina Holland and Jerry Sohn. We have no employees, no assistants, no interns. We work in close collaboration with individual artists, and we personally handle every aspect of book development and production, including editing, design, pre-press, printing, binding, and promotion. In the current publishing world, it is difficult to understand that an individual person could skilfully handle all of these tasks alone. Our model comes from another time, when such work methods were not only possible, but necessary, and even desirable.

Design is an analog process at Little Steidl. We employ hand construction and the real materials of bookmaking when designing our books, often building many hundreds of maquettes before a book reaches its final form. We never evaluate a developing book on screen, but rather as an object in the hands. In our print workshop, we use an old-fashioned, two-color Roland 202 printing press that is controlled with our own hands, eyes, and intensive physical labor – no computer,
no control board, no automated features included. We use it for experimentation, wet proofing, and the final print run. The manual and visual immediacy of this press allows an artist to understand how each print is built and how its expressive qualities can be shaped. Each book opens a long learning process for us and for the artist. There is no predictable timeline, but our experience shows that a perfect book requires about eight years to develop.

These are our work methods, and they will not change. Our capacity is limited to only a handful of beautiful books per year, and our name, Little Steidl, reminds us of this fact.

Nina Holland and Jerry Sohn
Founders and Directors, Little Steidl Verlag OHG