Artist Books

Being at university has opened my brain up to know what artists books actually are. Once upon a time, I just thought that they were a book that exhibited artist’s work. Little did I know, that they were an art form in its own entirety.

So, what is an artist book I hear you asking, or thinking. According to the good old trusty, Wikipedia, an artist books are “works of art that utilise the book form.” Incredibly fascinating stuff, I know. I don’t know why I never realised a book could be a form of art. Never in my art journey had I come across one, or realised that I had.

It was first introduced to me in my Textiles or my Natural History Illustration class, shows how well I remember my first year of university. We had a table of books we were able to touch and look at (carefully of course). I was in awe of just how creative these authors or artists were.

A creative use of an artist book.

I remember one artist book was a box with printed single sheets of paper in it and little notes that you could read. It really challenged me to think what a book actually is, of which I talk a lot more about in this post here.

Showing that a book doesn’t necessarily have to follow a certain definition.

The colour palettes of these books were really interesting too, with most of them using a limited colour palette. My favourite book colour wise was the one below, Tokyo Umbrella by Red Fox Press, which had just white, black and red as its colours and used wood as its cover. Alongside this, I think the pages were made out of rice paper, which tied into the Japanese theme really nicely. The book also read from right to left, as all Japanese books usually do.

Slide to open the first page.

I also learnt that the each publication house has a different publication style. This can be anything from using similar colours across books, fonts or subject titles.

Majority of these books used print as their mediums, but I am sure that there are so many other mediums used for this type of publication, including textiles. I should really go and visit the vast collection they have in the ECA library once this long summer is over.

Example of print making in an artist book.

The way I like to think I will like to use artist books will hopefully reflect in my sketchbook work as well as any future catalogues and look books. For now, there will be only one artist book made by me, make sure you go and check it out here.

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