Like a bear emerging from the woods, the book is coming soon

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When I first met the furries all that time ago ( only 2008..Ed) I was slightly overwhelmed by their costumes, but more than that their sense of fun and mischief. I was there to do a two page report of RBW, which is the Rather Brilliant Weekend. A sadly now defunct furry convention, which was replaced in a way by the Londonfurs summer and winter parties as well as the now more larger Confuzzled.

Alfa Fox and Lupus Londonwolf were two of the first furries I met

After taking pictures for Bizarre magazine and asking a few questions about their costumes, I felt I had managed to ingratiate myself into feeling accepted for a while at least.

After I left, put the camera down and moved on with putting the magazine together every month ( I was the picture editor there for seven glorious years) the furries kept popping back into my mind. There was something about them that seemed to speak to me, sure the costumes were amazing. There was something else though, the playfulness perhaps, the role playing, the mask element, the becoming something different which seemed to stick with me.

At Home With The Furries

A furry walk outside the Tate Modern

I started going to furry meets in London, organised by the Londonfurs. Yes the furries have an organising committee..:-) In fact more than one. In the ten years since I started the project, furry meets have sprung up all over the UK. Leeds, Birmingham, Oxford and Manchester all meet up every few weeks for a social and usually a furwalk.

I had this idea of going to a furry’s house and photographing them in their suits doing something they liked to do, a hobby or something they didn’t, a chore. I hoped to get a mixture of them as people and their characters. First was Smirnoff and although initially my sketching out of what we’d do on the day was very rough ( re…he was clueless..Ed) As soon as the furry in question fursuited up, I seemed to find a way to tell some sort of truth in the picture. Sometimes on the day or sometimes later in the editing suite.

At Home With The Furries

Smirnoff takes five

Why is this long introduction important to the latest status of At Home With The Furries? Well sometimes what we set out to do isn’t the complete sum of all parts by the time we’ve finished. I’ll be honest, as I usually am with the furry book there are times I’ve wanted to put the project down and forget it. I just didn’t see a way to move forward with it. But I truly believe that meeting people, sharing experiences and ideas is the only way to gain inspiration. Whether that’s in person, email or through social media.

It also helps when someone else, a publisher or a gallery drops you a line to say we would like to feature the project in our book about the history of photography or the Royal Academy accepts one of the photographs into the Summer Exhibition

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Syrrus and Lupestripe as shown in Gallery III at this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of the Arts. I’m furry grateful to all the wonderful people who bought a print, the edition completely sold out.

So here we are, one day next month I’ll receive a shipment of books on a couple of pallets on a truck that’s driven from Istanbul. It’ll be an emotional moment, of that I have no doubt. I realised during the course of the book design and concept is that the book has to be a homage to the furry fandom, to the joy, the passion, the creativity and the crazy characters I’ve met during this amazing journey.

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Marshall gets his reading practise in before he receives a copy of At Home With The Furries

Why Istanbul though? Well I was introduced to the printer, Ufuk Sahin by the photographer, Kalpesh Lathigra who printed his book, Lost in the Wilderness with Ufuk and his print shop, MAS. The production values of Lost in the Wilderness are superb and I wanted a similar level of commitment to the furry project. In fact I ended up with a level of commitment and dedication to the furry project from Ufuk that if anything went to the next level of what is possible. Mainly because I wanted the cover to be something totally unique, it had to be furry basically. Or at least feel like it. The tactile nature of the furry experience had to be reflected in the book itself.

When I visited MAS last month to be on press and sign off the pages as they came off the printer, Ufuk showed me his R & D room, full of bits of furry material that he had experimented with to make a book. We decided on a felt material that we printed a paw print design onto. It’s simple yet beautiful. I want it to be a surprise for the Kickstarter backers and anyone who has pre-ordered a copy of the book so I won’t be posting any pictures of it until the backers receive their books.

If you’d like to pre-order a copy of the book, go to Stay Free Publishing here

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A furfect day at the printers with At Home With The Furries and RA news

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Dear furry fans,

I’m pleased to let you know that the At Home With The Furries book is in the final stages of production now, this week the pages are being folded and the cover is being foil blocked for binding.

Order the book here

Two weeks ago I travelled to Istanbul, to the printers MAS to put the finishing touches to the book. I was there on press to review the wet proofs ( the last step before I write my signature on the pages ) and they start printing it.

I had a wonderful time in Istanbul and especially with the printers, a special thanks to Ufuk Sahin and his team (Murat, Zeynep and Ziya) who took an extraordinary amount of care with the project, to make sure that every element was reproduced to the quality that it should be. I could not be happier with it.

Here’s a clip of me reaching that momentous point where I do indeed sign off the pages. In truth this was repeated over the course of two days as every page section was brought up to me for sign-off.

The word on the furry grapevine is that there were no furries in Istanbul, I beg to differ my friends. There were hundreds of them, thousands even. On every street, every pavement, in cafes and restaurants all the city.

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Very realistic cat furries, check out a film called Kedi about the cats of Istanbul

The first order of business is choosing the finish for the plates ( that is where the actual photographs will be reproduced ) Varnish or non-varnish, glossy, matt, semi-matt, paper weight all come into it. Did I also mention that the sketchbook where you’ll be introduced to all the wonderful characters is on a different type of paper?

At Home With The Furries

The wet proof

Decisions made, in truth I had made most of them prior to this trip, the point is being on press is making the final decisions before the book is printed. When you think about it, that’s actually quite a big thing to get your head around.

Next is looking at the final proof, checking that everything is looking good and is in the right place. Once that’s signed off by me, then the printers use a signature print out. This is a rough copy of the entire book so they can see how the book will fit together.

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The proof (top) and printers signature (bottom)

Last step is to say hello to my little friend, the printer of course.

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Out of this comes real magic

They set the plates up, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black and start printing.

After a section is printed, the used plates ( actual metal plates are put to one side) the printers lined them up for me.

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And finally the pages are left to dry in the warehouse, once they’ve dried they can start to cut the pages and glue them ready for binding to the cover.

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As I mentioned, I’m very (furry) happy with the book. It’s magnificent, I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I’m due to receive it on the back of a lorry in a few weeks time.

The official publishing date is 30th September, if you’ve pledged through the Kickstarter or pre-ordered it through Stay Free Publishing, you’ll receive it nearly a month ahead of schedule. Pre-order it now on this link.

Royal Academy News

In other furry news, if you’re planning a trip to London before August 19th or if you live here..:-) It’s worth a visit to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, not just because the furries are on show..:-) I’ve been receiving lots of great feedback from people on Syrrus and Lupestripe being selected, it’s a great honour and I’m so happy for the work to be seen in this space.

Here’s a shot of me on Varnishing Day, it had to be didn’t it?

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Varnishing Day is the preview for all the artists to attend before the exhibition opens for real to the press and the public. It’s the last opportunity you have to put the finishing touches to the work and it’s also a great celebration of the work being selected.

There are a lot of animal themed works on show, check out Debbie Lawson’s Red Bear for example.

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Debbie Lawson adjusting her bear on Varnishing Day

The furries even made the highlights Illustrated book as well, next to the work of a photographer you may have heard of…Martin Parr.

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Royal Academy Summer Exhibition Illustrated 2018, available in all good book shops

I also extremely grateful to three furfect people who’ve purchased the work, only two prints from the edition left.

Finally Hole & Corner did a little interview with me and four other artists who’ve had work accepted into the exhibition this year, it means a lot to me that the furry project is in there, it’s not for lack of trying as you’ll read.

Thanks furry much Grayson Perry

Here are some lovely links

Hole & Corner

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

Stay Free Publishing

Twitter

Instagram

My website

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

Over the weekend I received a rather wonderful email from the Royal Academy of the Arts. It started with, “We are delighted to inform you” My dear friend I think you’ll find that I am more delighted than you..:-))

Earlier this year I entered Syrrus and Lupestripe having a barbecue in Leeds into the annual Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. I had put in two pictures from the series over the past two years and been shortlisted once, so I thought there was a decent chance of getting into the actual exhibition. Especially seeing as the curator is the artist and sculptor, Grayson Perry and its the big one, the 250th year of it running.

Syrrus, a fox and Lupestripe, a wolf having a barbecue in Leeds, 2017
Syrrus, a fox and Lupestripe, a wolf having a barbecue in Leeds, 2017

These things are always a bit of a lottery so having already been shortlisted, I was a bit overwhelmed and blown away to receive the email that said the picture has been selected.  With that of course it means that the furry project is now at the top table of the art world^^ For those that don’t know the exhibition, it’s possibly the biggest and most prestigious open art exhibition in the world. It opens on June 12th and will be on show until August 19th at the Royal Academy on Piccadilly. Here’s some more information about it https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/summer-exhibition-2018

This is obviously fantastic and furtastic news, especially seeing as At Home With The Furries will be published later on this year and on that note..

At the end of April  I visited the illustrator, Dane Marinkovic and we finished off the sketchbook pages. This extensive section at the back of the book consists of handwritten notes, additional photographs and illustrations relating to all the furries I’ve photographed for the project.  Included is a text from Uncle Kage as well as anecdotes, thoughts and stories from the furries featured.

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For the rest of the book, the design and text is nearly there, last week I finalised the design with Roger Fawcett-Tang from Struktur Design. I am so happy with how it all looks, feels and flows.

Roger also made a miniature version of the book, which really is a thing of beauty.

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The book is being published through the imprint, Stay Free Publishing and as such is now available to pre-order through the website. Rob Clayton is a photographer I’ve exhibited with and he self-published his book, Estate in 2015. Check it out here, copies are still available to buy. We decided to make At Home With The Furries the second book that Stay Free will publish. Stay Free is dedicated to publishing the best British photography projects.

The book will be published in September this year.

Pre-order a copy of At Home With The Furries click here

To buy Rob Clayton’s book, Estate click here

The Royal Academy Summer Show click here

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Stay fursome

It’s a furtastic feeling, it’s Friday and the furs are fully funded!

Yesterday morning (April 5th) just before 8am, the Kickstarter campaign came to an end. It was a very dramatic last week and it finished, I’m pleased and also extremely grateful to report fully funded. There are 205 superb supporters of At Home With The Furries, time for a furry conga…

London Furries Winter Ball

The target I set at the beginning of the campaign was reached early on Wednesday morning, a good 24 hours before the deadline, so this is a double celebration.

A special thanks to all the supporters who not only pledged, but also tweeted, shared and mentioned the campaign to everyone they know. Thanks to you, we managed to get this over the line.  I’ll be writing about the campaign and book plans in more detail over the coming weeks.

In the meantime here’s a few pictures from the beginning of the project, at RBW 2008 to photoshoots, selfies and more. There are some great memories here, shoots with dragons, rabbits, demon lords and bats to name a few.

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If you missed out on the campaign and would like to pre-order a copy of the book, At Home With The Furries, you will be able to do that via Stay Free Publishing next week.

I’ll be talking about the furry project at FFEATURED 15, on April 19th at The Signal in Forest Hill, South East London, tickets available here

In the meantime, connect with me:

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Thanks fur all your support

Tom

Fursday Kickstarter Update

I feel like we are heading into the home straight now, At Home With The Furries is 73% funded with 132 backers and six days left to pledge. So don’t hesitate, please support the project. It’s an all or nothing campaign, that is if we don’t make the target, the book is a bust. All being well, that won’t be the case. So pledge, pledge, pledge..:-)))

At Home With The Furries

Saethwr, a dragon from Cardiff. Available as a pledge through the Kickstarter as a limited edition print, comes with a signed copy of the book and set of four postcards, £85

Time Out featured the project and an interview with me on their website today, see link I recall my first encounter with the furries at RBW, which set me on the path to where I am today.

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“It took Broadbent around a year of going to furry meetups in London – which can sometimes attract as many as 200 people – and building up trust with members of the community before he began photographing them in their houses. ‘Now, many of them have become my good friends – I’ve even worn a borrowed furry suit myself many times – and the response has been phenomenal, both from the furry community, many of whom have pledged money towards it and other people and media outlets.’

There are more than just London based furs in the book of course, most of the furries I’ve worked with in this project live outside the capital.

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Furry tote bag, signed book and set of four postcards, £70 through the Kickstarter. Additional options include a limited edition print of Saethwr the red dragon for £115.

Dog Patch Press also featured the project on their website today, see link,  it has a short interview with me and some lovely words from the editor, Patch O’Furr who has been a supporter of the project over the years.

From Patch “Tom Broadbent has been staging creative fursuit photography for many years. I covered him in: Five pro photographers advancing the art of furry documentary. For each I named a signature approach, and to me, Tom excels at “whimsy”. His carefully chosen fantasy scenes show a depth of intrigue and storytelling beyond conventional scenes. Tom takes great care with relationships with his subjects. I think he’s the ideal photographer that furries could ask for.

That’s why I’m rushing out a post on short notice to urge support for his project. Tom has a dream to showcase furry subjects in a photo book, a beautiful archival object. It’s a few days from the Kickstarter deadline, and of course the funding is all or nothing.

We’ll know on April 4. I usually avoid covering crowdfunding – so this is an unusual request.”

I also talk about the importance of sticking to principles and not compromising in the quest to only have the work shown in the best places, it’s a good read. Thanks Patch

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A sample of the rainbow coloured fur being used to make the slipcases. For £100, you can choose a Custom Creatures designed slipcase with a signed book and set of four postcards. Additional options include a limited edition print of Lupestripe and Syrrus the fox having a barbecue in Leeds for £140.

In exhibition news, one of the images has been shortlisted by the Royal Academy for their Summer Exhibition, which is very exciting. I’ll hear whether we made the cut in late May.

Here’s the Kickstarter link, all book supporters get their name or chosen name (i.e fursona) in the back of the book.  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/466109304/at-home-with-the-furries?ref=bpoi2h

The campaign ends on Thursday 5th April at 7.42am

Links

Time Out feature

Dog Patch Press

The Kickstarter Campaign

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Furday update-At Home With The Furries Kickstarter

Straight off the bat, I am so grateful to each and every one of you who have backed, shared and mentioned the At Home With The Furries book Kickstarter campaign so far. This book is about communicating a thought I had nearly ten years ago, I had no idea then that I would be now sitting here writing a blog post about how privileged I am to have this level of support for the project.

©Tom Broadbent_Pazuzu_garden

To break it down into numbers, we launched on Tuesday at 8am and since then 67 amazing people have pledged just over £3000, putting us just shy of 33% of the total required to publish the book. The campaign closes on April 5th.

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A sample of the fur being used by Curious Creatures to make the furry slipcases. One of the campaign rewards

It was always my intention to publish a book of the work, and every magazine feature, exhibition, website and press article that has been published in the subsequent years since I started the project helped me along towards that goal.

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From the Absolut Manifesto Festival, Madrid, January 2018

I should add at this point that this project has been and is only possible because I have the support of the furries themselves.  Those who have featured in the book of course,  but also those who I’ve met more widely, through for example social media, sometimes following that up in person at furry meets and conventions. Perhaps furries who have visited from abroad and we’ve met for a coffee, a tea or a pint.

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Shooting the film for the Kickstarter campaign with Syrrus Fox and Lupestripe

The project has grown organically, through being given the nod by furries I had photographed, and other furs I met at meets and on walks. In 2013 when The Sunday Times Magazine featured the project, I had no idea that I was only halfway through at that point. Since then, Saethwr, Fangorn, Rebel, Pazuzu, Bucky, Zepp, Blacksnip, Edward Fuzzypaws and many more furs have allowed me to go to their homes and make portraits of them.

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Edward Fuzzypaws, a poodle and Teddy, a labradoodle in their drawing room

There are plenty of great rewards, postcards, limited editions prints, furry tote bags, furry slipcases and of course the book! Check out the campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/466109304/at-home-with-the-furries

Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram

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At Home With The Furries Kickstarter

Today I launch a Kickstarter to self-publish At Home With The Furries as my first book.

At Home With The Furries

The intention with At Home With The Furries has always been to publish a book of the work. I felt back in 2008 when I initially started working with Smirnoff, Lupus, Alfa, Lupestripe, Broccoli, Chill and Zuki that there weren’t really any portrayals of the furries in the media that were balanced or fair and so my approach was to address that with my photography.  My plan was to do something that although quirky, the idea of placing a furry in a domestic setting, the overarching feeling was to laugh with them, not at them. I was more interested in building a relationship with the furries I photographed, and indeed that happened quite naturally. I was a stranger, an outsider to this world and yet I could not have been welcomed more warmly into people’s houses.

At Home With The FurriesThe project over the years has received some wonderful feedback, not least from furries themselves. One confided to me that having seen the feature in The Sunday Times Magazine (March 2013), it gave him the confidence to go to his first furry meet and make friends. For me personally a watershed moment was seeing Smirnoff, the husky wolf, the first picture I took for the project, feature in the book by Paul Lowe, 1001 Photographs You Must See Before You Die. Mainly to see my work alongside work by photographers such as Leonard Freed, Eve Arnold, Susan Meisalas, Simon Norfolk and Sandy Skoglund (photographers I studied at college and university) spurred me on to move ahead with the Kickstarter to self-publish the book.

The key to any successful Kickstarter is to put together a great video and its thanks mostly to two furries who have become close friends and supporters of the project over the years. Pazuzu and Lupestripe. The idea of shooting a short film about the furries had been on my mind for a while and so the thought of bringing the furry project to life on film seemed like a logical next step. You can see the campaign video here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/466109304/at-home-with-the-furries

In 2016 I attended a book making workshop with Aron Morel at Photofusion, it was there that I was challenged to decide what my vision for a photobook would be of the project. Since then, the concept has become more fleshed out and everything about the book reflects the nature of the project. The cover, the paper stock, the materials, the design, the writing, the photography and the rewards for the crowdfunder.

At Home With The Furries

Alexandra Tomlin, a professional animator and illustrator, designed the cover.

The cover will be a flock (felt) material and the plan is for the design to be foil blocked onto the surface.

The designer is Roger Fawcett-Tang of Struktur Design, I’ve worked with Roger for many years on book projects.

The book will also contain an essay by Laura Noble, she has written a wonderful piece about the project.

It will also have a text by Uncle Kage, the chairman of Anthrocon, a Pittsburgh based furry convention. It’s also one of the biggest furry conventions in the world with attendees numbering some 5000 every year.

There will also be additional illustrations inside the book alongside thoughts, words and quotes from the furries themselves.

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It is being printed in Turkey by Ufuk Sahin, a leading photobook printer.

The rewards for pledging include postcards, limited edition prints, furry tote bags, furry slipcases and of course the book itself. All book pledgers get their name/chosen name in the back of the book as a supporter.

I will be posting many more updates over the next 30 days as the campaign goes on.

In the meantime, here’s a link to the campaign. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/466109304/at-home-with-the-furries

Thanks for any support you can give the project.

Tom

Links:

At Home With The Furries Kickstarter Campaign

My website

My blog

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