In the short six months of living in Baltimore, my interest and passion for book arts has blown up. I had always fooled around with various paper arts but I have come to realize that the world of book art is much larger than I thought.
In Baltimore, there are many examples of exciting innovative books. I quickly came to know that book was a fluid term and that there were groups of people devoted to this fact. I realized that this applied to not only the content within books but also the construction / composition of the physical object.
I think a book is something that is composed with a beginning and an end. Book sculptures are a slightly different story but equally awesome. “Book Arts” is an umbrella term for many things that fit and contradict the conventional idea and practicality of books but Baltimore’s talented community of artist are showing me that its hardly useful to categorize what space art takes up.
A book artist that has particularly inspired me is Baltimore local, Joseph Young. Seeing his work is most inspiring because he uses primarily found material, something I also do and am interested in exploring more as a book artist. I love books that exist as just one and he makes many of these out of beautiful found material—sometimes old monster movie posters, sometimes dictionary pages. Each work of his is original and limited—beautiful—and they emphasize the intrinsic charm of the paper. These books add a complex level to the world of book arts. One of my goals as a publisher is to provide a space, a read-in library for such books to have a home where people can come and look at them.
Joseph has also opened me up to the “booklet” form which is a simple .pdf book that can be distributed through email or posted on a blog or website. The way he sets these up, makes the work seem more thought out and complete, composed, something a mere .doc file wouldn’t allow. In essence, they are sort of the zine of e-books, accessible to anyone with an adobe reader and easy to create! Even more, the one I’ve posted here is digital version of an original handmade book so it serves as a way to expand your audience even though you may only have one or limited copies of the book you create.
Joseph considers the source of the material part of the art and creates many books that are bound and not. This inspires me because the content of these books are pages, emphasized with sometimes minimalist marks, sometimes words or phrases, sometimes stories or poems, and sometimes mixed. I admire how he uses these found materials as motivation using writing to emphasize art to emphasize the writing to emphasize the page. Traditionally, books are used to house a piece of writing—which certainly has its own merit and occasion but Joseph’s approach allows (and even begs) the book itself to be just as much part of the art as the writing is. It is almost unexplainable how this approach to bookmaking creates a beautifully synced original work of art. I am interested in this way because I feel it will allow me to really embody the things I create.
[Joseph often includes this when distributing the .pdf booklets:
INSTRUCTIONS FOR BEST VIEWING
This illustrated book is best viewed with the following settings in Adobe Acrobat or Reader, all of which are found under View –> Page Display:
• Two Up
• Show Gaps Between Pages
• Show Cover Page During Two Up