A Week in Culture: Claire Cottrell, Art Book Shop Owner and Editor


The Culture Diaries



7:00 A.M. Wake up to dog barking and strong skunk smell in house. Fear that door to garden was left open and skunk is loose in house. Get out of bed to confirm. Garden door is not open and skunk is not loose. Go back to bed for thirty minutes. 

7:30 A.M. Get out of bed. Wash face. Gather belongings, including black cocoon coat purchased for an imminent trip to Paris found for sixteen dollars the day before at a second-hand store. Head home to Mount Washington.

8:00 A.M. Arrive at home. Make tea. Take daily vitamins. Make new favorite quick morning oatmeal: half cup of oats, two heaping tablespoons of maple syrup, cinnamon, chopped apple, fresh dates, walnuts, boiling water. Settle in to enjoy oatmeal and tea. Realize that laptop, aka lifeline, is in Amos’s car. Freak out. Cancel all morning obligations, citing laptop debacle. Text Amos.

8:05 A.M. Amos drops off laptop.

8:10 A.M. Finish oatmeal. Finish tea. Resume all morning obligations. Including: reviewing reactions to Sybil’s sad demise on last night’s Downton Abbey, looking at Atelier Bow-Wow’s pet architecture—otherwise known as teeny tiny buildings on teeny tiny sliver of land—for an article, researching Bruno Munari’s useless machines for a contribution to the new arts journal, synonym. cover

9:15 A.M. Tackle e-mail. Respond to e-mails from three weeks ago. Debate including ‘apologies for the delayed response.’ Decide against it thinking, No need to always apologize. For all they know I answer e-mail every few weeks because I live in a cabin removed from civilization and spend most of my time in nature.

10:00 A.M. Discuss 35mm print vs. postcard option for the upcoming LA Art Book Fair via text with friend, photographer, and floral artist Lili Cuzor, aka Tigers to Lilies

10:30 A.M. Review color tests of hand-painted henbane, a poisonous aphrodisiac, for a large-scale sign by artist Lauren Spencer King for BOOK STAND, my art book store. Decide on black on peach with neon yellow hand-lettered text. Review tests for complimentary BOOK STAND henbane bookmark.

Photo credit: Lauren Spencer King

Photo credit: Lauren Spencer King

11:00 A.M. Create and send e-mail feature announcing BOOK STAND special projects for the book fair. Do obligatory social-media jazz. Resist obsessively checking to see who’s read the e-mail and/or liked the social-media postings.

11:55 A.M. Decide to try an entirely new visual approach to BOOK STAND online shop. Debate shooting test shots later in the day.

12:00 P.M. Defrost homemade carrot squash soup. Decide to try crispy fried kale strips on top. 

12:30 P.M. Get out stamps and brand new Japanese Mohachi paper to make BOOK STAND business cards for the book fair. 

2:00 P.M. Unpack new book shipments. Organize inventory. Update spreadsheet. Change spreadsheet font–twice.

Photo credit: Pure Beauty, John Baldessari

Photo credit: Pure Beauty, John Baldessari

5 P.M. Take dog for walk. Collect rose petals and nasturtium leaves. Arrange between parchment paper in John Baldessari book. Wonder, Will these dry in time to make something for the fair?

6 P.M. Wonder if there’s time to make kabocha squash curry before meeting Cheri, David, Amos, and co. for Hot Tub comedy night at the Virgil. Decide yes on the curry.

7:15 P.M. Late to comedy night.

10:30 P.M. Aziz Ansari reads text-message exchange between audience member and current love interest to prove the demise of modern dating.

11:30 P.M. Pajamas on. In bed. Asleep.


8:00 A.M. Wake up.

8:15 A.M. Get out of bed.

8:30 A.M. Pick up almond date shake with extra kale. 

9:00 A.M. Write piece about Japanese pet architecture.

11:00 A.M. Appointment in Santa Monica.

12:15 P.M. Stop by tortoise to pick up small brass paper holder for fair. Eat heirloom (crunchy) spinach salad on a milk crate in an alley between GTA and Garrett Leight. Think about pet architecture, alleys, and how surprisingly nice it is to sit in the sun on a milk crate. Consider getting back into architecture just to work on in-between spaces and other clever uses for milk crates and miscellaneous restaurant refuse.

1:00 P.M. Staples stop. Pick up brass paper clips and 100 percent–recycled white paper. Debate grey cardstock. Decide against it. White is wonderful.

3:00 P.M. Create and send e-mail number two feature announcing BOOK STAND special projects for the fair. Do obligatory social-media jazz. Resist obsessively checking to see who’s read the e-mail and/or liked the social-media postings.

Photo credit: Pet Architecture Guide Book by Atelier Bow-Wow

Photo credit: Pet Architecture Guide Book by Atelier Bow-Wow

4:00 P.M. Unpack books. Think about brass paper clip/ white paper ‘label’ combo for each book including price and catchy descriptions.

4:15 P.M. Eat dates.

7:00 P.M. Research photos of the American West for an environmental awareness ad campaign. Get sidetracked by vintage Gap Etsy search. Drink warm almond milk, cocoa, and maca. Rewatch Annie Hall.

 10:20 P.M. Send photos of the American West to production company in London.

10:30 P.M. Scan pressed nasturtiums for art journal contribution. Attempt collage. Think about duplicity. Scratch collage. Think about Yoko Ono–inspired text-based contribution instead.

11:00 P.M. Pajamas on. In bed. Read Alice Kaplan’s Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis.



7:00 A.M. Wake up.

8:00 A.M. Miss Pilates class.

8:30 A.M. Make English muffin with plum jam. Take daily vitamins. Drink water.

10:00 A.M. Sort out BOOK STAND booklet printing debacle.

11:00 A.M. Make tea. Catch up on e-mails. Coordinate art and ikebana deliveries to MOCA (the site of the book fair) via text.

1:00 P.M. Pick up braised chard and tahini sandwich at Cookbook. Take to Silver Lake Meadow. Take in the sunshine.

3:00 P.M. Unpack book shipments. Listen to NPR.

4:00 P.M. Review inventory and pricing sheets for fair. Deal with printer jam. Get frustrated. Get mad. Shake printer. Realize jammed paper can be easily accessed by lifting up lid. Clear paper jam. Realize printer is out of ink. Abandon attempt to print. Debate hand writing inventory and pricing sheets. Think, That’s what they did before printers.

5:00 P.M. Take dog for walk. Pick wildflowers to make boutonnieres for friends and collaborators at the fair. Drop half of freshly picked wildflowers while juggling dog and wildflowers. Wonder if any remaining wildflowers are poisonous.

6:00 P.M. Stamp backside of BOOK STAND cards with Web site. Write out handwritten labels for each book including price and something catchy that will inspire people to spend money. Listen to Christine McVie.

7:00 P.M. Attend Pilates class. Decide evening classes are better than morning classes, for me.

Photo credit: Astier de Villatte

Photo credit: Astier de Villatte

8:30 P.M. Pack books in preparation for tomorrow’s kickoff. Pack small box of essentials. Including: hand-stamped BOOK STAND ‘business cards,’ brass paper clips, small brass paper holder, two white clay vases, misc. wildflower cuttings, small gold swan scissors, pink polka-dot grey washi tape, black Moleskine ledger, Astier de Villatte notebook, iPad with new Square Register, small framed black-and-white photograph by Mariko Ogawa showing a woman’s nude torso covered with lilies, calculator. Wonder what other essentials I’m missing. Try to figure out how to stamp a legible hashtag. Pack books in boxes.

11:00 P.M. Pajamas on. In bed. Asleep. 


8:00 A.M. Wake up.

8:15 A.M. Make oatmeal. Tackle e-mail. Forget daily vitamins.

9:30 A.M. Load car with books.

10:30 A.M. Head to MOCA.

11:00 A.M. Set up stand with Lauren and Lauren. Unpack books. Hang henbane watercolor. Arrange wildflowers. Put out bookmarks. 

11:30 A.M Fritz Haeg stops by and invites us to tea and yoga downstairs. 

2:00 P.M. Late lunch at Forage.

5:00 P.M. Lili delivers ikebana. Ye Rin Mok delivers first-ever BOOK STAND booklet of photographs of desert plants in Arizona and Utah.

Photo credit: the southwest by Ye Rin Mok

Photo credit: the southwest by Ye Rin Mok

6:00 P.M. Sell books. Talk. 

7:00 P.M. Secret Circuit, Eddie Ruscha Jr.’s tropical electronic band, performs.

8:15 P.M. Jeffrey Deitch walks by.

8:18 P.M. James Franco walks by.

10:00 P.M. Late dinner of Japanese yam tempura and miso soup with Lili.

11:00 P.M. Home. Pajamas on. In bed. Crash.


8:00 A.M. Wake up. Slam pear juice. Forget daily vitamins.

8:30 A.M. Quick hike with dog to pick more wild sage.

11:00 A.M. Arrive at MOCA.

11:15 A.M. Sell books. Talk. Meet Anne, an ex–LA City planner, wearing cargo pants and a big Navajo belt buckle. Discuss Not A CornfieldSave Chez Jay, and the brand new LA light rail to Culver City.

2:30 P.M. Cheri arrives with hand-dyed textiles. Hang textiles.


3:00 P.M. Radio interview with Chinatown-based pirate radio station KCHUNG (1630 AM). Discuss plant books, Cheri’s textiles, and Paris.

4:00 P.M. Acknowledge lightheadedness and realize immediate need for food and refreshment. Cheri mans the stand. 

4:15 P.M. Discover food trucks are sold out of all vegetarian options. Hightail it to Little Tokyo Village. Pick up soy chai and what seems to be a spirulina churro at Café Dolce. Pick up white bean mochi in the shape of pink flower for Cheri.

5:00 P.M. Fair ends. Wander around Little Tokyo with Cheri. Stop by Fugetsu-Do, oldest Japanese bakery in LA, en route to hardware store recommended by Lili. Explore pink metal garden shovels, handmade shoes, rakes, brooms, and old crystals in a dusty display case at hardware store. 

6:00 P.M. Drop Cheri off at Shojin. Head home.

8:00 P.M. Dinner with Amos. Discuss gender issues in the work place. 

9:15 P.M. Amos heads off to DJ at Mandrake.

9:30 P.M. In bed. Pajamas on. Read Leanne Shapton’s Swimming Studies. Crash.


9:30 A.M. Shower. Get dressed. 

11:15 A.M. Parking debacle.

11:40 A.M. Arrive at MOCA.

12:00 P.M. Sell books. Talk.

1:00 P.M. Amos goes to Ben Jones’s lecture.

Transmition by Ben Jones

Transmition by Ben Jones

1:30 P.M. Talk to photographer (and Alec Soth’s studio manager) Carrie Elizabeth Thompson about Little Brown MushroomRoosterfish, and the idea of home. Make plan to order Alec’s California Dispatch for shop.

2:00 P.M. Eat three tofu tacos. Amos meets art professor from Cal State Northridge and happily talks about dead and domesticated animals and a water-buffalo slaughter houses photo book she just picked up.

Photo credit: AFTERZINE; Hamish Robertson and Andi Teran

Photo credit: AFTERZINE; Hamish Robertson and Andi Teran

2:30 P.M. Visit Hamish and Andi in Zine World. Buy Future Desert crystal print. Discuss coincidence, Los Angeles, Spellbound Sky Studio, and Bettys Tea Room in York, England.

3:00 P.M. Jason Schwartzman buys vintage ikebana magazine for friend. 

9:00 P.M. Fall asleep watching Summer Heights High on iPad in bed.


30055523_a93e07a6f8_z9:30 A.M. Head to Atwater for Amos’s weekly egg, spinach, and potato burrito. Proof Bakery is (conveniently) across the street to buy breakfast burrito alternative, aka a vegan tea cake. Stop to pick roadside wildflowers en route.

12:30 P.M. On a break, meet girl from Red Clouds Collective in Portland manning a bootleg stand outside MOCA selling handcrafted leather iPhone and tobacco cases listening to music on a portable cassette player.

1:30 P.M. After lunch, take photos.

1:45 P.M. Pick up Formula 1 photo booklet for Dad.

2:00 P.M. Sell books. Discuss Robert Mapplethorpe’s black-and-white flower photos with owner of three originals who lives next door to my old apartment on Ocean Avenue. Discuss Anne Schwalbe and self-publishing with Luciano, a photographer. Discuss ikebana with Kristin, owner of the most fabulous store in Los Angeles, IKO IKO.

3:00 P.M. Meet Eva from Bad Day. Pick up RAM catalog. Discuss community garden zines with Aya, of Rain or Shine Books, manning the Nieves stand.

Photo credit: nursery by Takashi Homma; Nieves

Photo credit: nursery by Takashi Homma; Nieves

5:00 P.M. Miranda July walks by.

6:00 P.M. The fair is over. I pack up.

7:00 P.M. We head home. I drop Lauren off in Highland Park; we discuss Tavi in the car.

7:30 P.M. Home. Unload car. Make avocado toast. Put on pajamas. Drive to Amos. Fall asleep during Downton Abbey.