I gather I am not alone when I say that I don’t have much of a working knowledge on book artists. Hearing the phrase at first I more immediately associated the term with a designer or typesetter working on an actual print book. So I jumped into our class resources and over the Center for Book Arts homepage to see if I couldn’t get a better idea of what this whole book artist thing was about. After a bit of reading and the introduction from our first class the sort of work a book artist does becomes quite obvious.
Since I don’t have much of a history with bookmaking, I can only speak to things I have seen that appeal to me as well as my own ideas as to how I would like to become more creative with book making. Given that the traditional print book is a two-dimensional endeavor, I have become drawn to artists that make creative use of space and dimension, using textured materials or multipart books that unfold in an exotic way.
Take as an example The Night Hunter, a book written by poet Nancy Campbell and hand-crafted by Roni Gross. I particularly like the way in which the artist took a cue from the pantoums written by Campbell, using a series of connected boards and color coded lines to highlight the way the poem’s lines unfold and fold back into themselves through repetition.
Another great use of dimensional space is My Characters Were Not Able to Come Fully to Life by Patricia Sarrafian Ward, part of an exhibit that saw her take her craft an artistic statement out of the remnants of her cut-up novel-in-progress. This particular book creates a swirling whirlpool out of strips of text cut from her original work.
I really enjoy the unpredictable way the Jim Pernotto’s Upper U.S. Papermill reads. Pages are stacked and bound in a seemingly random way and a series of arrows direct the reader how to fold the paper and progress through the book.
These three artists and their work have inspired some of my own ideas and broadened my concept of what a book is and isn’t. Throughout this semester I hope to explore my writing to search for cues as to how a potential book or books might unfold.