One of my ultimate passions in life is creating artists' books. If only I could figure out a way to make that my sole career in life! Recently I've begun book binding again - noting glamorous, just a few simple projects to sell for pin money. What inspired me to start working again was the odd coincidence of random articles and videos about artists' books appearing in my path - all within about 4 days.
Here is an absolutely fabulous video about the bookmaking process from start to finish. The Complex of All of These: 3000 photographs (ish), 35 books, 2 months at the Women's Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY.
One of the articles that appeared in my life was written by my former professor Geraldine Ondrizek. Her words make me want to find a studio and begin letterpressing again. The following are her comments, taken from "One for the Books" 2010 Reed College Calendar.
For me, the artist's book is an architectural space that we move through, touch, and experience. As readers, we are visitors to the book's architecture.
The cover of an artist's book opens like a hinges or sliding door, showing the attention paid to the style, scale, weight, materials and construction. The Japanese bind flaps open, the codex cracks its spine, and the Coptic bind lies flat to reveal the hours of its own making. The cover of the accordion book pulls open the entire tome at once, placing you in the middle. A folio book, such as Sol LeWitt's Lines to Specific Points, is a house of cards waiting to be rebuilt.
The title page of the artists' book indicates the formality or deconstruction to come. The table of contents is a floor plan. The typography is the furniture. Roman type, Garamond, Optima, and Arial all have a distinct history. The typeface can let you sit comfortably, slide you from word to word, or throw you abruptly form sentence to sentence.
The paper is our contact with the walls. Handmade, manufactures, thick, or thin, the paper is the vessel that holds language like the walls of a building hold our bodies. From the translucency of calves' vellum to the thickness of letterpressed cotton, each paper tells us the materials it is made from.
The chapters in an artist's book are the rooms. Some books take you into the mechanical room, like F. T. Marinetti's Les motes en liberte futuristes [The futurist words in freedom]. He treated the book as machine, which must be turned, altered, or disassembled by the reader in order to access its information. Some artists' books, like John Ashbery's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, are houses filled with mirrors; they are architectural objects of self-reflection.
The index of an artist's book redraws the floor plan, giving details of where you were and thought you had been. The colophon, like a construction permit, makes you aware of the long line of labor and the history of the materials and structures.