It all began with a personal interest in independent publications when Alexis Zavialoff, back in 2007, started to distribute art and design books to different bookstores in Switzerland. Motto was born and already a year after, in 2008, the headquarter in Berlin was established. The personal passion has now, extremely quickly, grown to the biggest distribution service of international art publications in the world.

We enter the backyard at Skalitzer Strasse 68, pass a small courtyard. Several light boxes is hanging on the walls where Motto have shifting exhibitions (with openings roughly once a month) by different publishers. At the moment the small brazilian publishing house, Devonian Press, is presenting a series of colorful prints. We go down the short staircase into the former frame shop, where the wood, glass and tools now are replaced with printed, binded and thoughtfully published works.

Wet paws on print
Unfortunatly we have just missed the founder, Alexis, as he, just an hour ago, left Motto for Art Basel together with his friend, the owner of the Chert (the neighbour gallery) with whom Motto have worked close together with throughout the years. Instead we get a good chat with one of the staff members and we also get lucky to meet Tintin, the house cat. “He’s really a good company, just not when it’s raining and he comes in, with wet paws, and messes up the books.”

Motto Distribution, Berlin | All photos by Rikke Luna & Matias © I DO ART Agency.

Motto Distribution, Berlin | All photos by Rikke Luna & Matias © I DO ART Agency.

Motto is connecting the artists and publishers to bookshops all over the world and has in it’s short life already an impressive catalogue of 3.000 titles, all related to art and design, practise and theory. Including a broad range of publishers, from young and unexperienced illustrators to heavy thinkers and bigger publishing houses, Motto is taking the place as the most influencial distributers in the field of art and design. “Now, they come to us. It’s almost every day that artists or publishers contact us to hear if we want to represent them.”

Expanding minds and business
In 2010 Motto started to do collaborations with museums internationally and is now present in Copenhagen (Kunsthal Charlottenborg), Basel, Melbourne and Bruxelles. Even though the majority of Motto’s books might seem a bit narrow, the demand from both artists, publishers and buyers is only growing, and in a time of “the death of print” Motto recently decided to lauch it’s own publishing house. Right now listing 8 finished publications, but with plans of several to come. Motto has taken on a really important role of spreading narrow but interesting thoughts to the world and we have so much respect for how they carry out the task.

Nutritious food for thought
Motto’s obvious interest in the thoughts and works of artists everywhere shines through and every book displayed in the 90m² shop begs to be picked up. Print, paper, binding, layout and content, no doubt, every detail in these publications are worth spending time on. It might not all be the typical, easy swallowed design trends wrapped in a fitting graphic context, but the books under Motto’s roof will guarantee interesting points, aestetic and food for thought.

Rikke Luna (f. 1988) og Matias Albæk-Falk (f. 1988) er stiftere af, og driver derudover formidlingsbureauet I DO ART Agency samt I DO ART Books.