"Let's Talk" with Cameron Brown

Interview by Dee-Marie,

Cameron Brown started his career as a banker, and quickly climbed the corporate ladder to become CEO of a high-financial institution. At the age of forty, and at the height of his career, he changed course and entered the world of publishing, co-founding Collins & Brown (with no experience in the publishing arena) ó tuning it into one of the largest illustrated book imprints.

In 2001, he once again ventured down a new path, this time creating his own publishing company, AAPPL [Artists' and Photographers' Press Ltd.]

Cameron understands art and artists, and has played an important part in the advancement of artists in the Renderosity community. Last year AAPPL published Renderosity: Digital Art For The 21st Century. Cameron is also one of the driving forces behind Renderosity: The Best of Digital Art ó as both publisher and a member of the judging panel.

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the man behind Renderosityís art books Ė Cameron Brown.

Your life has been filled with amazing accomplishments ó in your opinion, what makes a person successful in business? Is it merely luck, manifest destiny, intuition, hard work and perseverance, or a combination of all? What drives you? How do you find the inner-strength to take potential career risks and turn them into career successes?

Letís not exaggerate!! A lot is luck; being in the right place at the right time. I started a career in merchant banking in London in 1970, a time when young people were being given autonomy early and it was a fun period. My parents could never believe what my employers let me get up to at such a young age.

The 1970s were also still a time of generalization in the banking world. Today new employees fresh from university have to decide immediately what they want to specialize in. Being something of a dilettante, that wouldnít have suited me.

I donít believe in destiny but do believe in intuition and hard work; but luck is still the most important. Iím not sure why I have been a risk-taker; it certainly is not from my parents who, like most of their generation, sought nothing above security, having gone through the economic doldrums of the thirties then the second World War.

My wife Ditz, a successful artist and photographer has always encouraged me to do things that are fun rather than career-enhancing and that certainly helped.

As a fledgling company, how does AAPPL recruit artists for publication? What do you look for in a new artist? How hard has it been, as a London based company, to gather clients from outside the United Kingdom?

Although I only started AAPPL in 2001, I have been publishing photographers and artists since 1989 when I co-founded Collins & Brown. I basically approach photographers whose work I like, such as Tony and Eva Worobiec, and Sam Lloyd, and put ideas together with them. However good something might be I wonít publish it if the subject doesnít interest me personally; why else have your own publishing company?

With the art books Iíve been helped a lot by John Grant, who under his real name, Paul Barnett, acts as a consultant editor and scout for me. I met him when he was commissioning editor for Paper Tiger, part of the Collins & Brown group.

Over the years, the traditional book-publication business has seen some drastic changes ó with an increasing amount of books flooding the market, and the advent of online publications. What are the average costs involved in creating a book? Cost to author? Cost to publisher?

There are certainly too many books being published these days, but there is not much I can do about that problem, other than retire and cut the number by 0.004% per annum Ö
The costs of publishing a book vary greatly, depending on size, colour or monochrome, paper quality, binding, size of print-run.

With illustrated books some of the costs are coming down as printing moves more and more to Computer To Plate (CTP), so no printing film is needed. With digital photographs and other images there is also a big saving from no longer incurring the old scanning and reproduction costs.

Stage 1 of the budget is a mixture of writersí and artistsí costs, editor and proof-reader, design and layout, initial PR and Marketing; stage 2 is the printing, which I do almost wholly in China, where prices are low and quality excellent; stage 3 comprises the ongoing marketing and PR, royalties, sales commissions, warehousing and distribution.

Then of course there are the overheads Ö rent, phones, computers, stationery, post, insurance, travel, exhibitions and fairs, bad debts, etc. The cost to the author is generally just his time and pain.

What steps would an artist take to submit work to AAPPL for publication consideration? Does your company deal with novice artists/writers?

Iíll only publish what I like and itís only 2-4 books per year. Novice artists should really have a go at our forthcoming Renderosity: The Best of Digital Art, which I hope will become an annual showcase, and similar publications such as Spectrum.

There isnít really a shortcut to publication. Artists tend to get into print once they have established themselves through exhibitions, sales, publication in art journals and so on.

The image quality of AAPPL publications is exceptional [which is evident in last yearís Renderosity: Digital Art For The 21st Century]. How does your printing process differ from other publishing houses?

I have the time to take care. This is not unique to AAPPL but itís difficult to achieve in the big publishing houses where work comes off a conveyor belt and costs are always being trimmed. I always go for heavier (and therefore more expensive) paper than I need to, and that has a lot to do with it.

The Renderosity community is filled with enthusiastic anticipation over the upcoming AAPPL publication of the new Renderosity art book: Renderosity: The Best of Digital Art. As one of the judging panel members, what qualities will you be looking for in artistsí submissions?

Originality and quality of execution and that indefinable something which lifts the work up to a higher level, makes you want to come back to it. Digital art deserves that description only when an artistís vision raises it up above mere craft.

Besides the Renderosity art books, what other publications can we expect from AAPPL in the near future?

Keep an eye on my website AAPPL for new titles and backlist information.
Believe it or not Iíve just written two books called Wimbledon Facts, Figures & Fun (I live in Wimbledon) and Christmas Facts, Figures & Fun, both of which Iíll publish this year.

This Fall I also publish What is it? 200 Photos to keep you Guessing a small format 416 page gift-book of photographs by Ditz (my wife, oops!), and a beautiful book of fairy-paintings by Maxine Gadd, called Faeries and other Fantastical Folk. Maxine was brought to my attention by one of your artistsí community, audre, and Iím most grateful to her for the introduction. Next Spring there will be a photographic book about London, by Sam Lloyd.

Thank you for sharing your time with us ó in parting, what words-of-wisdom can you pass along to our readers who have dreams of seeing their works of art displayed within the pages of a coffee table art book?

Itís not easy. Most of these books donít make money for the publisher or the artist, and fewer and fewer of the mainstream publishers are doing them. They can however be great for the artistís prestige. Your best bet is just to work hard at building a customer/client base, try to exhibit, go in for competitions wherever you can, get an agent if possible, let your work be published on cards, posters, mugs, anything. Donít be precious about your work and donít give up if some idiot says ďnoĒ!


  • We invite you to visit Cameron's AAPPL website

  • We also invite you to submit your works of art, for consideration, in the upcoming Renderosity art book:
    Renderosity: The Best of Digital Art.

  • "Lets Talk" with Dee-Marie
    is a monthly featured column by Dee-Marie:
    Editor of the Renderosity Writer's team,
    and Senior Staff Writer.