Artist Books

Claire Van Vliet | Circulus Sapientiae

he term book arts, refers to the arts and crafts in the making of a book. Binding, papermaking and printing are all part of the book arts. Book artists, in the sense that this blog will address today, are artists who employ all these crafts, and contemporary technologies into creating unique, often extremely limited editions of highly artistic books. Book artist are not unlike fine artist in that their work can be of a unique personal style and very collectable. There is a magic to well designed and executed artist books. It takes the idea of the author and transforms it into a sensory story using words, illustration, interaction and often, sculptural effects. My reason for introducing the book artist at this point in time is to expose you to the magic of artist books. You will need to find this magic for your edible books – that idea that you translate with food stuffs that moves your reader. Enjoy the the beautiful books below by contemporary book artists. To learn more about the book and the artist, click on the image. Can you identify the magic?

Pat Smith | Hidden Ancestors
Lark Burkhart | The Good Book Kit
Bonnie Thompson Norman | The Windowpane Press
Chela Metzger | Bird Book
Margery S. Hellmann | The Holburne Press
Gloria Helfgott | Arachne: Vida Lobo
Margery Hellman | Ulysses
Charlene Matthews | Virus: A Love Poem
Jody Alexander | Due Date: It’s No A Popularity Contest
Alicia Bailey | December 1: The Hunt
Su-Ju Wang | Esther
Todd Pattison | Little Library
Claire Van Vliet | Tumbling Blocks
Karen Hammer | Even Before You Left the Farm
Emily Martin | Naughty Dog Press

Patience from Glowing Heads on Vimeo.

The Icebook (HD) from Davy and Kristin McGuire on Vimeo.

Hitch from Pascal Monaco on Vimeo.

Books of Ice, by Basia Irland from Orion Magazine on Vimeo.

Artist Books

A Glimpse at the Special Collections

Printer: Venetiis [Paulus Manutius] 1567. Marshall University Rare Books.
“I have no pretentious library but I am fond of my books. You will find no morocco or gilt on my shelves, but each book bears two stories: one the author’s, and the other the personal history of my copy and how it came to rest on my shelves.” (Ridgway 519)

ON THURSDAY Dolores Thompson, Digital Preservation Librarian & Records Manager, made available for us to view some engaging items, as the Aldine Press title page right, from the Marshall University Special Collections and the Rosanna Blake Library of Confederate History. Each item she presented, in its own way, holds a story on the art of the book, as well as its own personal life story. As we ponder on which book to study this semester keep in mind that the object of our affection can be as simple as an old cookbook to something as elegant as the Shakespeare Folio. Within the pages of a rare, or stack shelf book can be an exceptionally interesting story.

The quote at the top of the page is taken from a copy of The Colophon: a Quarterly for Bookman. The Colophon is a magazine of unique character. Early issues of the publication consist of individual signatures printed at different printing houses. This makes for a collection of different paper and design that visualizes the beauty of the book as well as presenting scholarship on the book arts. Designer Elmer Adler is responsible for the creation of The Colophon, and within the publications list of editors and contributing editors, are several recognizable names in the history of the book.

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The quarterly was published as a handsome graphic form from 1930 until 1935 when a more traditional and commercial publication appeared that continued until 1940. Within the Morrow stacks you can find the complete set. This can be a valuable resource for the research we will be conducting in this class. A successor to the original Colophon began publishing in 1948, but lasted only until 1950. I did not find copies of the later issue in the Morrow Library catalog. Digitized versions of the original series are also archived at Carnegie Mellon. While the digital versions are invaluable for content, do take the time to visit the stacks and experience the pre-1935 copies firsthand. While the paper bindings are worn, the handsome typography within the pages graces the author’s words and supplies a banquet of prints for the eyes. There is just something special in reading words designed with care, and printed upon beautiful paper.

Ridgway, Elizabeth. “Dusty Shelves and Irishmen.” The Colophone New Series: A Quarterly for Bookmen 3.Autumn (1938): 519. Print.


A Glimpse at the Special Collections