This video really helped explain book arts to me. I mean, I kind of knew what it was seeing Jenny O’Grady and some of the discussions we’ve had in class, but Peter Thomas’s gypsy wagon analogy really hit home. An artist’s book like a gypsy wagon grabs a person’s attention. It makes us stop and think. An artist’s book is different from the traditional, ordinary books we find at Barnes&Noble. It’s unique.
And now books can be art. Because we have Google now for research and information at the tips of our fingers. And we have Kindles and other e-readers for the content portion (story/poem/essay), books are now “freed from function.” They can transcend from function to art. This seems to be a slow process because most people don’t see how books can be anything other than what they’ve always been. Like Peter said, a painting by itself hanging in a museum would easily sell for a few hundred dollars, but that same painting in a handmade book, ridiculous. And I kind of get that. Books are so inexpensive. Used books on Amazon, $.99 books on Kindle. Paying $200 dollars for a book seems insane. I’ve put off buying books for a year waiting for the mass market paperback to be released. My point is that it will take some time for the masses to come to see books as art, but now it’s possible.
The thing that really struck me during the Peter Thomas lecture was when he was talking about art versus craft. Art appreciates mistakes, but craft is all about total control over the work. He says that if the paint bubbles up or the artist spills coffee on his/her work, that’s not the end. It hasn’t ruined the work. Mistakes have potential to make art even better. Even though I understand this, it’s so hard for me to give up the control. I come from a craft background. It drives me up the wall when I miss a stitch while working on a cross-stitch project, or use the wrong color thread (there were many tears shed in December when I realized I had used light blue instead of white for an ornament I was stitching for my Mom for Christmas. It wasn’t that big of a deal; in fact, you can’t even tell, but it matters to me because I am a craftswoman and I am all about the total control). I think, that if I can just let go of the control, I could maybe achieve something more. Something that I would never be able to accomplish with all my planning. I have to let the mistakes come. Especially since, even though I like to plan out every stage of a project, when it comes to creativity, I can’t force it. I have to just go and start making things. As I’m working, ideas come to me. I have to let myself make mistakes or I would never try anything new. I never expect my first draft of prose to be perfect, why should I approach book arts like this? Art is flexible, and I need to be flexible too. This will by my new philosophy for this class (and maybe in life too): Allow the mistakes to come. That and “Don’t worry, it will all work out in the end.”