Book Artist, Schmook Artist

Book Artist, Schmook Artist
Dustin Fisher

I think I heard Bill Joel perform “Book Bindin Girls” in concert back in the 90s.

Once again, I feel like we’re arguing about semantics. Peter Thomas made something, and for some reason he seems to be very concerned about whether or not people call it a book. This is not uncommon in this genre. I suppose that’s important to some people, but I’m not one of them. It’s a work of art, which is likely where the term “book art” comes from. Whether or not his final product should be considered a book is of little consequence to me. But we have a whole class dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what is defined as a book, so maybe I’m on rocky ground bringing it up.

To draw a parallel without getting too political, there is a lot of hubbub about whether or not gays should be allowed to marry. Marriage is a religious institution, but it carries certain political benefits with it. Religions have every right to deny gays to be married under their bylaws, but the country is a different entity. If there’s a way to grant a civil union the same political benefits (hospital visitation, tax breaks) as marriage, who cares what it’s called? Call it a wickersham if you will. Same with book art. Call it a malgamuffin. It’s still a work of art.

Of course, Amazon doesn’t have a category for malgamuffin and it would be nice to be able to explain your art to people. And the beat goes on…

Like some of the posts before me, the line about how book art will be the only form of art left (maybe it wasn’t that extreme) resonated with me. I could appreciate how he says it’s the only medium that uses all four dimensions, though any three-dimensional art that takes time to look at could challenge that comment. However, it’s a pretty bold prediction to say that two-dimensional art will disappear because of the access to creation of it. “Anybody can make it” he says. Which is why it will probably never be more popular. I would guess the world would tend toward multimedia more so than book art. Art museums will likely tend toward interactive art we can’t even think of now in 20 years. But as a memoirist, I tend to think the world is leaning a lot more toward nonfiction than fiction these days. So if I were a book artist, I may be similarly biased.

I found Peter Thomas very funny and personable and it balanced out the shock of the first few seconds when I opened the website to find a 47-minute video. His diatribe on what to do if you’re looking at a book and somebody asks you about the Dodgers made me think he was a professional emcee.

Also, I did appreciate his comment about how art costs more and garners more respect if it’s on a wall. Some book art takes just as long to create and is every bit as arty as wall art. And he’s right, the world will probably start to value book art more in the next 20 years when the world starts to realize what it is. I’m sorry, I mean wickersham. The world will start to appreciate wickersham much more.


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