PHO703: Ed Ruscha Style

This is my preparation task for the new module, PHO703: Surfaces and Strategies.

I have got to grips with Adobe In Design and used it to prepare a simple photobook called Short Waits. A subtitle for it might be Bus Stop Magic in 26 Signs.

True, it is inspired by Ed Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations (Ruscha 2020) and his similar books. My images also show largely unpeopled, workaday way stations we don’t normally think much about. And like Ruscha, ‘I was after that kind of blank reality that the subject matter would present’ (Ruscha 2006). However, if I am honest I would say that my book also owes a lot to the peculiar psycho-social conditions of Covid-19 lockdown in the UK. Isolation and emptiness have become the new normal, another kind of ‘blank reality’.

My book is larger, a little less barebones and apparently artless, and it is in colour. I could easily have made the book with monochrome images but part of my intent with this course is learning to use colour much more effectively, and so I have forsworn black and white for almost all my coursework. Ruscha said that he used his camera as a simple recording machine – ‘I just pick it up like an axe when I’ve got to chop down a tree’ (Coleman 2002: 53) – but I am not as hard-hearted as that.

I offer a pdf of the book online here for anyone who is interested. I have sent the original material off to be printed (by Blurb) and expect to receive a finished copy on about 05 June.

What have I taken from this work? An appreciation of Ed Ruscha, the satisfaction of starting and completing a project, the pleasure of creating a book, and learning how to use Adobe In Design. Making a start on using this software effectively is a great step forward for me.


Fig. 1: Mark Crean 2020. Short Waits, a booklet of mysterious bus absences in the style of Ed Ruscha.

Here is the URL for the pdf:

Short Waits PDF


COLEMAN, A.D. 2002. ‘I’m Not Really a Photographer’. In Edward RUSCHA and Alexandra SCHWARTZ. Leave Any Information at the Signal : Writings, Interviews, Bits, Pages. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT, 53.

RUSCHA, Edward. 2006. In Denis LAWSON, ‘Paper Movies’, The Genius of Photography. BBC TV Arts Documentary. London: BBC.

RUSCHA, Edward. 2020. ‘Twentysix Gasoline Stations, (1963, Printed 1969)’. Art Gallery NSW [online]. Available at: [accessed 27 May 2020].


Figure 1: Mark CREAN. 2020. Short Waits, a booklet of mysterious bus absences in the style of Ed Ruscha. Collection of the author.