This post originally appeared on the Library as Incubator Project in October, 2011.

Sonnenzimmer is an art and screen print studio run by Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi.  The duo creates unique hand-crafted posters, books and music-packaging in their Chicago studio.  They took our survey in the summer of 2011.

How do you identify yourself as an artist, and what kind of work do you do?

Screen printing posters, music packaging, book design, art prints, graphic design, writing, music.

What is/has been your relationship to libraries?

Archive poster

The Society of Typographic Art, Archive 10 Poster by Sonnenzimmer

Very useful and we love the idea of them and love them.  We also get our tax forms there, drop off batteries, check out the bulletin for posters and events.

Have libraries informed or inspired you work? If so, how?

We use them as a research tool to get ideas or to read up on historical context for ideas.  We use it as an extension of a work room or living room to chill out in, as it’s peaceful.

What specific libraries have played a role in your work?  Are there things about these libraries that stand out to you as particularly useful or inspiring?

Our neighborhood library.  It’s consistent in staffing and has a good range of enough books that are specific.  They update the collections.  It’s family friendly but not crazy.  A personal library is important, too, it’s more specialized.  We also use online libraries and google scholar as a form of library.

What resources do you use in your library?

Books mostly.

How do you find about resources, events, or services at your library?

We don’t really.  The Chicago Library does a good job with being active in terms of marketing and getting the word out.  But it’s more like, hey, we are still here.

What can libraries do to serve artists?

Artists need more specialized access to collections.  Or different kinds of libraries — like access to research places such as the Field Museum.  They could order more smaple books for materials.  Search tools could be more visual.

As an artist, what would your ideal library look or be like?

We don’t believe in an exclusive library.  Books are for the people.

What does the phrase “library as incubator” mean to you?

It feels like a motion.  It reads as not static.  Books coming in and out.  Them going out into the world and into someone’s place and occupying minds and coming back…


For more information about Sonnenzimmer and to view more of their work, visit their website.

All images and content in this feature are copyright of the featured artist.

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