Furniture? From a book publisher?



ANSWER 4 ︎︎︎ For those wanting to reach out to the studio and potentially work together on something, it might be best to understand what this studio is /
what this studio is not. 

My name is Matthew Austin and I’ve been doing this kind of work for about 10 years.

For the long story, you can watch this talk I gave for the Center for Book Arts on June 15, 2022. 

The short story is that I first started in my Chicago apartment in 2011, learning from YouTube and making book projects for close friends—a night-and-weekend practice that myself, my brother, and a group of friends later evolved into a non-profit called The Chicago Perch (2012–2015), which funded and published 18 editions and $47,000 in payouts to artists.

This project later evolved into a project called Candor Arts (2015–2021) which I started in my spare bedroom in Los Angeles, but then moved back to Chicago, and operated as a team of four out of three different studios for 5 years, and we closed the last studio down a year into the pandemic. This project funded and published 52 editions and around $300,000 in payouts to artists.

Based in Los Angeles, For the Birds Trapped in Airports (2022–?) is the next iteration of these studio projects.

For the Birds Trapped in Airports is a studio with three main functions, prioritized in this order:

Function 1. funding, producing, and publishing artist books for arts workers interested in restoring humanity—through which their projects become part of a collectivist structure where every collaborator equally shares all collective profits (revenue above production costs).

Function 2. operating as the permanent print production / publishing support arm of small organizations interested in restoring humanity.

Function 3. selectively designing / producing books for hire, as well as consulting, artist talks, and educational opportunities for hire.

Function #1 — PUBLISHING FOR INDIVIDUALS (expanded):

Funded projects are primarily selected by Oriana Koren and guided in conversation with the Candor Collective (a QTBIPOC-led network of antiracist arts workers building systems of care together and advocating for each other’s rest and well-being.).

After the selection of a project, all of the work in this studio is guided by collaboration with another person or with a group of people. There should be no pre-emptive expectations of what the end product looks like—most importantly, not at the beginning.

How does that actually work?

Let’s say there are two people published through For the Birds Trapped in Airports at this moment. No one had to pay anything to be published—design, production, and sales labor were provided by the studio. After 6 months, the first person’s book generated $100.00 profit above production costs, the second person’s book generated $9,900.00 above production costs. In a 6-month period, a total of $10,000.00 in profit has been generated above production costs, to be split by two published arts workers: each arts worker receives a check for $5,000.00. Each arts worker will continue to receive checks twice a year so long as their project contribution is in stock. When the stock depletes, they will no longer receive checks past that period (as they would no longer be  contributing to the fund) but will eventually be offered the opportunity (as schedule and capacity allows) to reprint that project and re-enter the collective structure.

Function #2 — INSTITUTIONAL PARTNERS (expanded):

While we are conducting the work from this studio to extend these organizations’ pre-existing efforts in restoring humanity, through For the Birds Trapped in Airports, these organizations are (or become) publishers themselves, and we are a permanent vendor who provides this resource to them.

What makes that different than being a general production vendor to an institution?

Our rates and capabilities are always flexible and adaptable for these institutions—sometimes they fundraise or get grants that can pay the whole cost of production, sometimes they are out of funds and have nothing to offer—in either case, we still make the project happen and find a way to compromise and exchange resources that results in symbiotic support for each of our projects. 

So far, we maintain this relationship with:

Sixty Inches from Center

Candor Collective 

Sming Sming Books

Function #3 — COMMISSIONED LABOR (expanded):

We love collaborating on book projects with individuals and organizations. It is a pressured challenge that we enjoy, and feel excited by the potential of a book that can be guided by an endless spectrum of voices and influences.

For individual artists who want to collaborate on a project, but not be a part of the collective publishing structure—we can consult, design, and produce projects for hire. We will work with you to establish a production budget relative to your income/funding sources.

Given the experiences that we’ve had over the years, and that unfortunately exploitative circumstances and harmful work environments are often the norm for institutions, we have become far more selective about which of these projects we say yes to. My guess is that we will do 1-2 large institutional publications per year, when the collaboration is the right fit, but it is not the primary function of this studio.

With a lot of the following language being written for the sake of protection (of self-worth), please also know that we do feel that we can more readily and easily identify when a project is a good fit these days—it is typically evident when a basis of mutual respect and fair compensation for all labor involved is at the forefront of the discussion.

So, basically, IYKYK and we look forward to working together. ︎



If you are an individual arts worker or small organization interested in restoring humanity, we will be as flexible with pricing as we can for your project needs in relation to your income.

While we can’t promise schedule availability or give you a blanket set of billable services, we are open to many kinds of project requests, and we do deeply believe in great fits in working together, so please don’t hesitate to send project ideas our way. If it’s not a good fit for us, we’ll likely have recommendations for those who we believe would be a good fit for your project.


If you are representing a large institution, you will pay the highest rate we charge for projects. At the time of writing this, we charge $15,000.00 for design, layout, and production management (not including production). If some time has passed and we’ve developed our work and skills in this field since, our rate may be more than $15,000.00.*

*If paying our maximum rate is off-putting to you, please do not contact us. If you represent an institution that has an annual operating budget of over $2,000,000.00 and won’t pay $15,000.00 for us to design, layout, and manage a book project that will definitely generate more than $15,000.00 for your institution, please do not contact us. Instead of taking the time to contact us with a budget that can’t pay our rate, we encourage you to ask the supervisor who creates your budget why your institutional position is designed to exploit those you work with.


Matt designs and produces custom furniture as gifts for his friends. You can commission him to make a piece of furniture from those styles available

You can also follow his furniture making on Tik Tok. Yes, that’s right, Tik Tok. 😎️

We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for visiting.

Looking for our shop?

It’s called Speculation Bookshop, our sibling company, and you can purchase our work and others there:

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Four more things you can know about us:

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? 4 ︎︎︎

© For the Birds Trapped in Airports 2022