How to work with Candor


What is Candor?

can·dor — noun

pronounced: kan•der

the quality of being open and honest in expression

Candor Arts is an independent press based in Chicago.


the things we do:

  • Publish books about life, learning and healing

  • Design art books and editions

  • Produce art books and editions

What we’re known for:

  • We specialize in book design and art book production, 

    working with artists, authors, and institutions

    on highly considered, often handmade, limited editions.

  • We provide design, production, and consulting services

    for book projects, art objects, and printed matter.

  • We work with art institutions, designing and producing 

    publications from start to finish, and oversee production 

    from small limited editions to run quantities of 500+.  

who is candor?









THE candor team:

We are four people.

Matt Austin and Melanie Bohrer co-own the company

and work together administratively to direct Candor Arts.

Matt manages all design and production outside of the studio.

Melanie maintains the financial scope of our projects.

Both work directly with the authors in design, editing, 

sequencing, and finalizing projects for print. 

Katie Chung and Hannah Batsel co-manage 

all production within the studio, coordinate timelines, 

track inventory, and physically carry out the hand-labor 

to create the editions we produce.

Each of us do additional work to support each other.

At the time of this handbook being written, the four of us have produced 

21 editions for 16 authors, making more than 4,250 books

over the course of the last 18 months.


the candor publishing directive:

The authors we select to publish share personal accounts of their lives—

offering therapeutic perspectives on learning and healing. 

The projects always derive from human experience 

and often address contemporary issues in society.

We are not a medium-specific publisher.

Instead, we support authors from a diverse range of approaches, backgrounds, and training. 

Pictured: avery r. young (poet/musician), Matt Austin (designer), Cecil McDonald, Jr. (photographer), and Tempestt Hazel (writer/curator) — from release event of   In the Company of Black     at Filter Photo.

Pictured: avery r. young (poet/musician), Matt Austin (designer), Cecil McDonald, Jr. (photographer), and Tempestt Hazel (writer/curator) — from release event of In the Company of Black at Filter Photo.


Production costs and book profits are split equally between Candor and authors.

Capitalism encourages a prioritization of money and profit over the wellness of any person, and does so with great inequity in terms of race, class, gender, ability, and any mode through which a group of people can be othered.

Typically, publishers rely on distributors or bookstores for sales, which results in significant cuts in the author’s pay and often prioritizes the business’ profit over the author’s compensation. If it is more important to you that your book is carried in bookstores all around the world, we may not be the best publisher for you. Please be aware and clear about what you want from your book’s life. 

Similar to splitting production costs in half, Candor divides sales profit equally with its authors. The only exception to this are sales made at paid-table events or fairs where the publisher receives 60% and the artist 40% of every sale.

Additionally, our publishing model differs from traditional models, in that we do not keep any rights to the author’s work. Authors have the freedom to publish and re-publish their work, if they feel so inclined.

All decision-making at Candor revolves around how to equally share project benefits. Therefore, we partner with other organizations whose ethics align with ours to share resources, heighten the reach of the authors’ voices at no financial cost, and create programmatic opportunities that will further their dialogues.

Candor Arts is an attempt to build a financial and social support system that works toward reversing this disproportion. It responds to concrete examples in which specific groups of people are not only being underrepresented, but remain unsupported.

As a grassroots project, we have the freedom to operate and invest money independently and in accordance with our values.  While we are a for-profit LLC, accumulation of company wealth is not the priority of our business. Instead, we focus on financially assisting our authors and staff.

Our challenge is to create a new mode of working that provides support in situations that often lead to exploitation. 

We believe in and pride ourselves on paying authors and staff fairly. Unlike common publishing models that require 100% of payment upfront from the author, and a small return from that investment, the financial risk of publishing is shared by Candor and our authors by splitting production costs 50/50. For both financial and ethical reasons, we remain in control of the vast majority of sales of our publications. We do not work with distributors and very selectively place our books in stores for resale. This allows us to utilize the full amount of a book’s retail price to maximize our author’s profits and support our employees. In the rare cases we consign or wholesale books, our relationships with those bookstores are rooted in our authors’ appreciation for the cultural environments they foster. 

Candor Partners:


the candor motive for publishing:

Our publishing efforts are rooted in support and equity for authors. 

Art books are a means to communicate complicated emotional ideas. They are vehicles for sharing personal experiences with readers who may approach life and reality in a dissimilar manner. Despite possible ethical, moral, political, and cultural differences, every reader holds a book object with some degree of thoughtfulness. The experience of touching and interacting with artwork on a personal level heightens the importance of beauty, care, and expression when creating these objects. We believe that design and material are essential tools in reflecting the author’s experience of the subject matter. 

Given our publishing directive of highlighting vulnerable experiences, we work to meticulously craft books that act both as spaces of refuge and as enticing art objects.

The art and publishing industries often provide insufficient monetary and social support for the creative, emotional, and intellectual work of artists and authors.

Our motivation is to offer low- to no-risk financial scenarios for authors to publish their work without compromising standards for design and content. 

Our goal is to create projects that make significant contributions to the author’s career, both in representation and funding. 

Through our model, we wish to demonstrate that our projects are deeply rooted in supporting and learning from the authors we work with: Candor Arts would not exist or matter without them.

By exploring a variety of forms and formats,

we are interested in creating intimate works

that push the boundaries imposed by art and language. 

What we do & What we don’t do:

It is important to note that aesthetic differences between the original work, a digital reproduction of it, and its printing are inevitable. While we use the highest quality machines and processes available to us for each project, in the book-making process there is an inherent and apparent difference between an original and its translation into a printed page.

As a publisher, we strongly believe that the medium of the artist book is inherently powerful and unique. We ultimately create a collaborative new piece of work, rather than representing or duplicating any of the author’s existing artworks as a catalogue, portfolio, or vanity project. 

The authors we choose to publish are making books that serve a social purpose—books that are made with intention for a community and purpose outside of [and larger than] themselves or the advancement of their artistic careers.


the candor standard for design:

Our design is always created in collaboration with the author,

to best reflect their intent, content, and subject matter.

We offer extremely high quality production, a detail-oriented approach, and excellence 

in craft and design, often embracing the beauty and uniqueness of the hand-made.

To reflect the author’s wishes for sales and distribution, 

we create projects that maintain calculated budgets, 

yet do not compromise the integrity of the work. 

The author’s vision and satisfaction remain our top priorities. 

the candor CODE OF ConDUCT: 

We value honesty and respect above all. 

We foster an open, communicative environment 

that is comfortable and safe for all of our

employees, authors, readers, and patrons. 

We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment. 

All members of the Candor team are artists. 

We empathize with how highly important, 

emotional, and personal your project is. 

We give recommendations for design, production, sales, and distribution

based on our experience in this field and our hope for your book to be successful.

We will do our best to provide you with various suitable options for your book.

We never compromise projects for our own gain. 

All opinions are equal; please feel free to bring in new voices.

Our team works on projects and ideas collaboratively, 

and we invite you to share this spirit.  

As the author, you ultimately remain in charge 

of all final decisions to be made around your book.

Publishing is emotional work.

You will be frustrated at some point in this process.

When this happens, please try to remember: 

  • Making complex books takes time.

  • We are always open to making changes,

  • Changes require time.

  • We are all on the same team.

Please be mindful that we are likely working on multiple projects simultaneously,

all of which we care about very deeply. 

While we are aware and respectful of deadlines, 

we believe that any great project takes time. 

We are a very small and young company. 

We are actively reflecting and restructuring to create 

the most equitable model we can while working within

a global industry that operates very differently. 

We take risks every day, and while we love our work, 

all projects cost us sweat, tears, time, and attention. 

Please keep this in mind.

We value and support you.

Your work gives our project meaning.

What matters to you is what matters to us.

We always care. We are all still learning.