Booming Books

Peter Thomas is such a darling! One thing I love about many of the people involved with book arts is that they aren’t afraid to have fun and be silly. That isn’t to say that the profession of being an artist isn’t taken seriously however, I think it is very important to consider the energy you are putting into the things you create. Without fail, the energy invested will be reflected in the final product.


Silly as he is, Peter IS a professional with real ideas about how books should fit into the world of art. I liked his idea of “different schools of book arts.” Over the past few months I have been thinking that “Books Arts” is a too bald umbrella term that makes it hard to analyze & discuss what a work of book art is achieving. We need better ways to distinguish the different sort of books we are creating in this vast world of art because there are so many types of artistic books from book sculptures to handmade chapbooks.


Interesting that he began the discussion on the curious topic of “craft vs. art.” It seems that this idea is heavily debated though no one can really unanimously agree on a distinction. I won’t comment on how I distinguish the two here (partly because I am still unsure and discovering) but I can’t help but wonder, even if the distinction is FUNCTION—does art (even just a painting hanging on a wall) not have at very least a social function?


His definition of craftsman—someone who is in total control of what they create vs. an artist—who is interested in flexibility and interacting with the work itself is very useful and made me think about these ideas in a new way. It also made me more fully understand how what I do fits in.


Peter says that a book artist is someone who uses “books” as their medium. And just like any type of artist—a large part of what you do is giving the things we create a name. It is up to the poet to decide what a poem is and this is the same for the book artist. However, I have seen it proven that book arts are in fact undervalued and unappreciated both in “larger” society and in the world of art. The idea of his wife’s painting being valued more hanging on a wall than if they appear in a beautifully constructed book is perplexing. It makes me wonder how we can break these ideas about what a book is down. I agree that now is the time—especially since information is being transferred in different ways everyday. With this, I believe we will be able to expand the vision of what art is and can be so that we are able to give the art of bookmaking a presence in a world of fine artistic craft. 


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