Paper Dreams: An Indie Success Story
How a graphic designer launched an indie pop-up book press.Though Rosston Meyer, founder of Poposition Press, read pop-up books as a kid, it wasn’t until college—when he studied the work of master paper engineers Robert Sabuda and David A. Carter—that he developed a true appreciation for the form’s unique artistry. Meyer, a longtime arts and comics enthusiast and a web and graphic designer by trade, was so inspired by Sabuda’s and Carter’s wide-ranging creations that he planned to make his own pop-up book. He sat on the idea for some 15 years before collaborating with the comic book artist Jim Mahfood on a book titled Pop Up Funk, which he and Mahfood self-published in 2013.
After that, Meyer was hooked. He followed that first project with The Pop Up Art Book, which features the work of Mahfood and five other contemporary artists: Angry Woebots, kozyndan, Junko Mizuno, Tara McPherson, and Skinner. Meyer funded the book through Kickstarter. He also started considering the idea of launching a pop-up book press, and, after seeing firsthand the success that self-published books can find through direct marketing to consumers, he felt increasingly confident about the venture.
Poposition Press is a true passion project. “My goal was to create limited-edition pop-up books that feature artists or subjects that are of a deep personal interest to me,” Meyer says.
Meyer’s many pop-up book projects have taught him about the importance of harmonizing aspects of art and design. Though complex designs can make a pop-up book particularly dynamic, he believes that “a simply engineered page with striking artwork can have the same effect.” Each new project presents different challenges. “For me, creating a pop-up book is kind of like solving a very long and in-depth puzzle, not just in terms of the paper engineering and design aspects of the project but also in the marketing and selling of the books,” he notes.
Meyer continues to rely on crowdfunding to support his projects and primarily sells them directly to pop-up book fans and people who collect the work of the featured artists. Having an awareness of already-established fan bases allows Meyer to better target his efforts. “The artists that I work with have existing audiences that we’re able to tap into for each title through social media, emails, and other direct contact,” he says. “Online advertising has also been successful as I’m able to market ads to specific demographics.”
For instance, Meyer sought out H.P. Lovecraft fan communities when marketing Skinner’s Necronomicon Pop-Up Book, a Poposition book featuring scenes from Lovecraft’s stories, illustrated by Skinner, an artist in Oakland, Calif.Meyer recently partnered with Carter, to whom he initially reached out in 2013 to express his admiration and to seek advice about pop-up book engineering. The two struck up a friendship, and in 2017 Carter approached Meyer about a pop-up book that he was creating in collaboration with Hester van Eeghen, a Dutch shoe and handbag designer. The book was planned for a 30-year anniversary exhibition of van Eeghen’s work, to be held at the Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam. The result of their efforts, One Thousand and One Handbags, was a unique project for Carter: his first limited-edition pop-up book, with the potential to be a collector’s item.
Meyer values close-knit hands-on collaborations that result in unique works of art. “It’s a wonderful feeling to hold a finished product in your hands that in some cases just two people worked on for months,” he says. With the “constantly evolving” design and artistry that he brings to each new project, Meyer looks forward to putting more pop-up book wonders into the hands of readers.