Open Source Publishing

Open Source Publishing is a group of individuals from different background and practices: typography, graphic design, cartography, programming, mathematics, writing, performance. Through collaboration, research and pedagogy their practices comprise commissioned work, self-commissioned projects and workshops, searching to redefine their playground, digging for a more intimate relation with the tools.

True to its name, OSP makes graphic design using only free and open source software—pieces of software that invites their users to take part of the processus of creation. Founded in 2006 in the context of Brussels art organisation Constant, has worked with organisations both large and small, and collaborated with individual artists.

How tools and free software change practice

Part of working in any field is to know the tools available and be able to appropriate and customise them. Even though the final output of graphic design and publishing processes might be printed matter, its creation process nowadays involves primarily digital tools.

Software then deserve to be scrutinised. In Graphic Design and Publishing, one software company has a monopoly. This means practitioners that might work in hugely varied circumstances with widely varying aims and interests, all have to contend themselves with the same hammer. Software is necessarily full of conventions, often based on and reinforcing pre-existing labor organisations. In the mainstream commercial software (Adobe), it is no surprise that one finds inscribed a mainstream working practice. This makes for an impoverished visual culture.

Commercial software tends to hide its digital materiality behind slick interfaces, giving the false impression that software is “just” a vehicle, a transparent means for connecting creative ideas to the final output. The culture of Free and Libre software inverses the situation by putting the inner workings of digital tools, their source code, at the center of its practice.

To coordinate the development of Free Software projects, it has seen the development of a series of social and intellectual tools and practices that are inspiring in their breadth. Our practice has been shaped by the encounter with the tools and the culture of Free Software.