Incorporated in Wilmington, Del., and operating from an office in a Victorian house in Antwerp, Prydwen Press will release its debut title in May. The Vanities is written and illustrated by Terence Lawlor, who also founded the press. This is the first book created by the Los Angeles native, a collage artist who has worked in fashion and advertising as a designer and art director. IPG will distribute Prydwen Press titles in the U.S. and Canada.

The Vanities
, a collage-filled, 62-page picture book with three gatefolds, introduces a Cinderella-like young woman who possesses an unparalleled flair for hairstyling, yet uses brains rather than beauty to win a contest to become ruler of her kingdom. Lawlor explains that the book grew out of his advertising work, which often entail tight deadlines that require him to create his collages relatively quickly. “I thought a book would give me the chance to do a series of illustrations that all worked together, in a time frame that allowed me to do my best work,” he says. “I had expected this book would take me two years to write and illustrate, but it actually took me close to six years to complete.”

The luxury of working at his own pace was a key reason the author opted to launch his own company rather than publish with an existing house. “I wanted to take the time I needed and also wanted the freedom to let the story go where it needed to go,” he explains. “I didn’t want to be told to keep the book to 32 pages or when to have it finished.”

This fall, Prydwen Press will release four small-format journals, each featuring a character from The Vanities on its cover. Due in spring 2009 is Lawlor’s Galaxy Trek, a picture book with collage art centering on monsters from different planets. In the future, Lawlor plans to publish books by other authors as well.

Marketing for The Vanities and subsequent Prydwen Press titles will be handled by Deborah Sloan of Deborah Sloan and Company in Andover, Mass. To promote The Vanitites, she is sending electronic press kits to traditional media outlets as well as to art and fashion media. Lawlor will travel to New York City and Los Angeles in May to visit bookstores and specialty stores, where he will hold collage-making workshops. Signed prints of the book’s collages will be available for retailers to display or raffle off at events.

“Prydwen Press is very much a start-up business, and I want to build it slowly,” says Lawlor, who notes that his company is named after one of King Arthur’s boats: “For me, that boat perfectly symbolized the adventure I was embarking on with this press. And the ship’s sail pictured in our logo features the Celtic rune for ‘joy.’ This not only represents the ‘P’ of Prydwen Press, but also the joy I have for art and words.”