Joe Torr graduated from the BA (Hons) Art & Design (Interdisciplinary) in the summer of 2011 and with a friend has set up ‘Village’ an independent bookshop in the Corn Exchange.

Village specialises in self-published ‘zines from local and international artists, as well as selected art, design, fashion and photography books and magazines from established and independent publishers. We met up with Joe to find out more...

When/ why did you set up Village?

We first had the idea for the shop 2-3 years ago. We have always enjoyed finding new independent publishers and self-published books and ‘zines online or when in other cities, but found it annoying there wasn't really a physical shop in the North to go browse these kind of publications.

We wanted to create somewhere where people could come and spend time looking through copies of these publications rather than having to view them online. I don't think you can properly appreciate a book online, to me a book is something that you can only engage with when you are holding it in your hands not viewing it on a computer screen.

What’s the ethos of the shop?

I guess the overall aim of Village is to help provide exposure for independent publishers and self-publishers by carefully curating a selection of books and printed matter. We want to provide exposure for emerging artists within their own community by publishing and exhibiting work by talented creatives and collaborating with like-minded collectives. We don’t want to just be a shop but a creative hub for the Leeds creative community.

Why Leeds? Do you feel like there is anything special about Leeds as a city that supports creative people/businesses?

Leeds has no shortage of great art collectives, independent businesses and projects, all of which are people doing what they do simply because they love doing it.

There are some very inspirational people who have really helped us out while setting up (Jay Cover, Andy Kier and the Catalogue guys just to name a few). Everyone is more than happy to help each other out just to see the community as a whole develop further.

The best thing is it really feels like it’s only the beginning and I think we’re going to see some really great stuff coming out of Leeds in the next few years.

Are you involved in any other projects in the City?

We are currently talking to a few people about a couple of new projects based in the city but they are in their early stages. There are a few other Village based projects we are both working on too which hopefully will come to fruition over the course of this year.

Do you feel that the skills you developed at University have helped support you setting up Village?

I studied Art & Design Interdisciplinary. It was a really interesting course, and the tutors were really helpful all the way through my degree.

I think the skills I learnt at University not only played an integral part in setting up the business but also in the day to day running of the shop. University definitely improved my organisational skills as well as teaching me how to collaborate with other people.

Are there any specific projects that you did at University which encouraged you?

I would say there are quite a few projects that encouraged me to set up my own business. Most of the projects involved working with other people at events; I guess that has naturally developed into what I do now.

Are you planning on remaining connected to the University?

I think the shop will always be connected to the University- it is where the idea came from. We want to work as closely as possible with the Art University and the students/alumni. I think there will always be a strong connection between Village and the University.

What are your plans for the future?

Well its early days at the moment but we have quite a lot of ideas for what we want to achieve. We want to make more use of the store as a space by hosting regular events; book launches, artist talks, workshops, that sort of thing. I think the next project we are working on is developing the publishing side of our business.

You can visit the Village shop in Leeds Corn Exchange, or find out more about them here: www.villagebookstore.co.uk