I’ve been learning bookbinding on my own for the past 3 months or so and have decided it’s time to learn from someone who knows more than I do. I’ve started an Indiegogo campaign to help me attend a week-long bookbinding workshop at the San Francisco Center for the Book, and to create photographs to include in a handmade, signed, limited edition book (20) in its own handmade slipcase, titled “Point Lobos Dreaming”.
For more information, and to help support this project please go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/point-lobos-dreaming-ltd-edition-handmade-book#/:
10% after 4 days! Thank you! Thank you for your continued support! I’m really excited about this project.
What is an artist book, or artists’ book, or artistic book? There are many ways to label it and many more types of artist/artists’/artistic books, which makes this type of book difficult to define. The type of book is recognizable, for the most part: hand made, looks different than the ‘typical’ mass-produced book, can use non-traditional material, and may even not look like a “book” at all. I’ll use the term artists’ book just to keep the typing to a minimum and to refer to the book as “artist owned”, meaning the artist took ownership in its creation by being the maker of all or nearly all of the book’s components; structure, design, content, appearance, from determining the size to cutting the paper to making the cover and hand-stitching the spine.
One predominant aspect of the artists’ book is this type of book tends to cross boundaries and preconceptions and definitions of what a book is, often using cross-disciplinary media and various modes of construction. Instead of the book being about art, or containing something artful, the book itself is an artwork. The book maker has total freedom and control in its production (which creates a bit of anxiety and fear as well as excitement in the artist, especially if the artist hasn’t explored this mode of artmaking before). One thing commonly agreed on; the artists’ book is not simply a book of artwork or a representation of an artist’s body of work, not a diary or sketchbook or blank book, even if it is handmade. Artist’s books are made to be interacted with, the same as with any other book form. Artists’ books are more often than not made in very limited editions compared to machine-printed books or even other limited edition artworks.
The artists’ book can be more deeply or expansively personal than other types of art because of the opportunity to include different media types, from the obvious writing to painting and drawing, photography, collage, augmented reality, even carving and sculpture. Any type of media can be incorporated into the artists’ book form and be used as an appropriate means of expression, as the artist demands. “Artists’ books exist at the intersection of printmaking, photography, poetry, experimental narrative, visual arts, graphic design, and publishing.” (https://blog.library.si.edu/blog/2012/06/01/what-is-an-artists-book/).
While book form has been around for centuries (3500 BC or so), the machine-printed book arrived in 1475 with the Gutenberg press, and artists’ book didn’t really come into being until the 1950s when European artists began experimenting with and exploring the book form. The artists’ book, like sculpture, printmaking, and photography before it, is having a tough time being accepted as a valid form of fine art, and many people have no idea this form of art even exists.
The books I will be making are not artists’ books according to that definition. They are handmade books, for sure, and there will be artistic aspects to them. But each type of book I make for this project are essentially the traditional book form. There may be a time, likely will be, that as I become more experienced with assembling the book form I will explore and experiment with an artists’ book. And it may be sooner than you or I think. I already have a concept for an artists’ book that I may try in the near future based on some photographs I made in the Redwoods of California, with the concept of landscape ecology, fire ecology, and a land ethic (a la Aldo Leopold).
Overall, the hand made book, the artists’ book, is another form of artistic expression and communication based on the artist’s experiences with the world. It’s a way to make the abstract visible or the visible abstract or to be completely and unambiguously literal.
“When we make something with our hands it changes the way we feel. The way we feel changes the way we think. The way we think changes the way we act.” — Carl Wilkens