Jason Fulford is a photographer, publisher, and designer. The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts recently hosted the latest iteration of “The Mushroom Collection,” which included photographs from his latest book The Mushroom Collector (Soon Institute, 2010) alongside videos and sculptural interventions throughout the museum. Fulford’s photographs have been featured in Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, Time, and on book jackets for Don Delillo, John Updike, Bertrand Russell, Jorge Luis Borges, Terry Eagleton, Ernest Hemingway and Richard Ford. He is the co-founder of J&L Books, and his other monographs include Sunbird (J&L, 2000), Crushed (J&L, 2003), and Raising Frogs for $$$ (J&L, 2006). Fulford lives and works in Scranton, PA.

Art, graphic design, cooking, and office supplies

Ward Long: What are some of your oldest books? What are some books you’ve added recently?

Jason Fulford: I’m in California temporarily, and only brought with me from Pennsylvania the books that I want to think about this year. So this doesn’t represent my full library, but…

Some books here that I’ve had a long time:

Girls, Some Boys and Other Cookies by Ute Behrend
The Telephone Book (With Pearls) by John Baldessari

Some recent additions:

Temporama by Clayton Jr.
Algeria by Dirk Alvermann
Luigi Ghirri Project Prints

WL: In an interview with Bill Boling for Fall Line Press, you said that most of your own photographic archive falls into four categories: published and exhibited works, b-sides and sketches, seeds for new ideas, and pictures you made to remember something. Do you think the same taxonomy would apply to your book collection?

JF: I would say that all of my books fall under the category: Reference + Pleasure

Books, music and office supplies

WL: Does your library play an active role in your creative process, or is it more like a map of places you’ve already been?

JF: I try to keep it active, and weed out the books that collect dust. I end up giving a box to the local used bookstore every few months. We built a narrow shelf in the kitchen to keep some books face out. This selection rotates every week or so.


I also bind all of my personal contact sheets, and have a dedicated bookshelf for them.

Contact sheets

WL: The Mushroom Collector started as a gift from a friend, a manila envelope of flea market photos. Are there many gifts in your library and does that change the way you understand those books?

JF: There are a few gifts, but they are indistinguishable from the rest.

J&L in the closet

WL:  Can you tell me more about a book you find particularly special?

JF: Here are four books that I return to often:

Voyeur by Alain Robbe-Grillet
Pragmatism by William James
Witch Grass by Raymond Queneau
7 Types of Ambiguity by William Empson

Two Williams and two Frenchies. Each of these books feeds me with similar content, but from very different perspectives.

Stack of Southern fiction plus alternative theory and Raymond Queneau

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