Book Arts

What will be the canon for the artist’s book in the 21st Century?

In an arena that now includes both digital and traditionally produced artists’ books, what will constitute the concepts of artists’ publishing in the future?

This project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council from March 2008 – February 2010. The AHRC funds postgraduate training and research in the arts and humanities, from archaeology and English literature to design and dance. The quality and range of research supported not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. For further information on the AHRC, please see the website

This project investigated and discussed issues concerning the context and future of the artist’s book, in an attempt to extend and sustain critical debate of what constitutes an artist’s book in the 21st Century.

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ABTREE altered diagram by Dr Emma Powell, UK

One of the key points of this project was to try and include all the book related activity that artists engage with. To include work that was being produced on, and exclusively for, digital technologies within the book arts field, and not leave it floundering uncomfortably on the edge, or subjected to a different terminology altogether, if the artist considered what they were producing to be a book, then we felt it should be included. We also looked at the continued practice of traditional production processes for artists’ books such as letterpress, etching, lithography, screenprint and woodcut, and have interviewed a range of artists and publishers who work with these, as well as those producing livres d’artistes, fine press books, design bindings, multiples, installation and audio books.

All of the outcomes from this project are available below as free downloads. They run chronologically from the first interviews onwards. Please see the links for particular presentations as text or audio downloads from our seminars and conference, and focus points such as all the interviews from Poland.

The link below to New Wave – Artists’ Books in the 21st Century , contains an online gallery of 100 artists’ books as examples of the many variations within the book arts, from traditional craft to experimental works. These offer a range of concepts and formats of artists’ publishing, from knitted books to i-pod publications, free download e-books, hypertext works, phone-based works, POD books, letterpress, hand printed etc. What all of these books have in common is content – from political, observational, reflective, humorous, calls to action, treatises, books that talk to each other to books that question our relationship with both the word and the world.

Our manifesto proposes that all of these areas will fit under book arts. Download a copy of the 7pp statement A Manifesto for the Book.

ABTREE altered diagram by Doro Boehme, SAIC, USA

ABTREE altered diagram by Doro Boehme, SAIC, USA

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ABTREE altered diagram by Radoslaw Nowakowski, Poland

Download the colour 187 pp publication A Manifesto for the Book, which contains our statement for a manifesto, and an edited selection of interviews, essays, presentations, case studies, and some ABTREEs from the project.

If you prefer to have a hard copy of the publication, we have made it available in black and white print, at cost as a Print-on-Demand book at

Artists’ Books Seminar 1 (08/05/08)

How are artists using and investigating new media for publishing? Where are we going with this? Where will the books end up?
Audio and PDF downloads of information from our first seminar

Focus on Artists’ Books in Poland (June 2008)

Read or download all of our interviews from Poland and watch videos of Radoslaw Nowakowski talking about his books.

21st Century Book Group

Created at Artist Books 3.0 in 2008 for this project by Tom Sowden. The forum intended to run until July 2009, but more members continue to join, so it will carry on indefinitely. The group currently has 87 members, and has discussed issues such as Artists’ Books or Artists’ Publications; Defining the Book; Theorising the Artist’s Book and Phone Books.
21st Century Book Group

Awaiting Transmission text book (November 2008)

As part of the project, The Centre for Fine Print Research invited E F Stevens, in the USA to produce a phone-based book, as a series of short, text pieces to create an artist’s book in six instalments which was texted to whoever signed up for the free bookwork. E.F. Stevens has allowed us to also upload the texts for viewing as part of the project archive: Awaiting Transmission

Focus on Artists’ Books in the USA (November 2008)

We interviewed artists, educators, researchers, students, publishers and librarians, during our November visit to the USA:

An interview with John Risseeuw who has been involved in book arts since 1967, and teaches courses in Fine Printing & Bookmaking, Papermaking, Artists’ Books, and Photo Processes for Printmaking, at Arizona State University, USA. He is also the proprietor of his own Cabbagehead Press and Director of ASU’s Pyracantha Press.

A discussion with staff and students from the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago: Ann Tyler, Veronika Corzo-Duchardt, Justyna Palka, Mark Addison Smith, Heejin Kim, Renate Gokl and Bethany Armstrong.

Download our case study of a model book art centre with Jeff Rathermel at Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) Minneapolis

Interview with Doro Böhme, Ramon Cartwright, Andrew Blackley and Elissa Papendick at the Joan Flasch Artists’ Books Collection at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Every student in the School will have a mandatory introduction to the artist’s book collection.

Download a PDF of our interview with Sally Alatalo Sara Ranchouse Publishing

An interview with Clifton Meador at The Center for Book & Paper Arts(CBPA), Columbia College, Chicago.

Listen to our reports on the USA in Session 2 of seminar 2 as MP3 audio files

Artists’ Books Seminar 2 (20/03/09)

We reported back on the project’s findings to date, and the series of interviews with artists working with books over the last six months. We discussed how artists in different areas work with books, how artists’ books are perceived and showed examples of the variety of concepts and formats we had studied. Guest speakers Barrie Tullett (Caseroom Press, Lincoln) and Guy Begbie (Hereford College of Arts) offered their views on publishing artists’books and teaching book arts.
You can download PDF information sheets and listen to MP3 audio files from seminar 2.

Artists’ Publishing Part I Exhibition, at Bower Ashton Library (01/0509 – 14/06/09)

University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
The first selection of books which formed part of the New Wave exhibition of artists’ publishing, shown at Impact Printmaking Conference in September 2009.

Artists’ Publishing Part I Exhibition

Artists’ Publishing Part II Exhibition, at Bower Ashton Library (15/06/09 – 28/07/09)

University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
The second selection of books which formed part of the New Wave exhibition of artists’ publishing, shown at Impact Printmaking Conference in September 2009.

Artists’ Publishing Part II Exhibition

Traditional and emerging formats of artists’ books: Where do we go from here?

A two-day conference at the School of Creative Arts, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK.

Thursday 9th and Friday 10th July 2009

Many thanks to all of our speakers: Emily Artinian, Kenneth Butler, Katarzyna Bazarnik, Paul Clarke, Richard Cox, Bibiana Crespo, Zenon Fajfer, Angela Gardner, Andi McGarry, seekers of lice, Clare Thornton, Kathleen Walkup and Julian Warren for their wonderful presentations.

Text downloads and audio files from the conference

Thanks also to Francis Elliott (Foundry) for Dark Globe Enclosed Systems, to Baysan Yüksel for showing her artists’ books, Angela Gardner for the light-trap press displays, Katarzyna Bazarnik and Zenon Fajfer for showing Liberature publications, and to all of you who sent their ABtree diagrams for our first display wall.

Thanks to all the delegates for coming, some from as far away as Australia, USA, Denmark and Belgium. We hope you all enjoyed the conference as much as we did!

New Wave – Artists’ Books in the 21st Century, September 2009

This exhibition of 100 artists’ books forms part of our project, and was specially curated for IMPACT Multi-disciplinary Printmaking Conference from 16-19 September 2009. The exhibition is archived with an online gallery.

Many thanks to all of the artists, academics, students, presses, publishers, curators, dealers and collectors who completed the online survey forms and ABTREE diagrams for the project April 2008 – July 2009.

The ABTREE diagrams were shown as part of the New Wave exhibition in September 2009 at Impact Multi-disciplinary Printmaking Conference.

Investigating the artist’s book

Essays and interviews with artists, curators, academics and collectors in South America, UK & Ireland, Spain, Russia, Japan, Singapore, Sweden and Germany:

Maria Fusco Alternative methods of distribution for artists’ books and 1982, DOOM KNOTS, an artist’s project which utilised Bluetooth to transmit a daily series of short texts to office workers in London.

L. Vandegrift Davala an artist based in County Sligo, Ireland, who works across a number of disciplines. Her recent work has utilised interactive digital technologies in the production of book works.

An interview with Dmitry Sayenko at the BuchDruckKunst at Museum der Arbeit, Hamburg. Dmitry Sayenko ventured into the field of artists’ books in 1993, working with colour woodcut and linocut, and binding his own books by hand. He established his own publishing house Nikodim press in St. Petersburg in 2000.

An interview with Dr Paulo Silveira and Dr Maria Lucia Cattani, Porto Alegre, Brazil. Silveira is the coordinator of the publishing section of Editora da UFRGS, the author of A página violada (the violated page) 2001, and regularly writes articles on contemporary art and the artist’s book. He is a member (heading the artists’ books section) of the research group Veículos da Arte – Vehicles of Art. Cattani is an artist and professor at the UFRGS (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul) Instituto de Artes in Porto Alegre Brazil , who works with artists’ books, prints and site-specific pieces.

An interview with Victoria Bianchetti, artist, Argentina on her artists’ books and book arts practice in Argentina, including the Instantes Gráficos group founded by Carla Rey.

Interview with Eriko Hirashima founder of La Libreria artists’ bookshop and space in Singapore.

An interview with the Swedish artist and bookbinder Monica Langwe. Langwe specialises in historical binding techniques, and is the author of Limp bindings from Tallinn, which explores limp bindings in long-stitch, chain-stitch and ticketing, from her research at the Tallinn City Archives in Estonia.

An interview with Maria White Chief Cataloguer at Tate Britain (, in their collection store to discuss Tate’s definition of artists’ books, what is collected under that remit, and what White thinks about collecting digital works.

An interview with Kyoko Tachibana, Sohon Studio, Sapporo, Japan, on artists’ books in the digital era and her own practice around books.

An interview with Ulrike Stoltz, artist and Professor for typography at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig, Germany.

Rosa Tarruella on the Barcelona-based artists’ books group 13L, formed in 1998. The artists in the group produce individual and collaborative book works and artists’ books in many forms.

Book Arts Directory

This directory was compiled as part of the project. Entries include: Artist’s Book Galleries & Centres, Public and Private Collections & Collectors, Publishers & Presses, Bookshops and Dealers, Educational & Professional Organisations, Artists, Artist’s Book Fair Organisers.

Bookarts Directory 2010

Bibliography / Further Reading

The PDF contains a reference booklist; links to some online essays; links to examples of virtual, download, e-books and online book projects; links to examples of hypertext works; some useful websites for information, societies, artists, creating books and zines, and POD – Print on Demand publishing.Bibliography / Further Reading

Case Studies

The case studies range from simple one-page Q&A mini case studies to more in-depth interviews conducted in situ, or over a few months by email during 2008 – 2009. We aimed for a range of case studies with artists, publishers, presses, dealers, collectors, lecturers and students. Where the subjects produced an altered ABTREE diagram, these have been included in their case studies.

Longer case studies expanded on our core questions with specific focus on the area the artist worked in, for example, Case Study I – an interview with Antic Ham (Seoul) on Korean artists, Case Study VIII – an interview on South African artists’ books with David Paton (Johannesburg), and Case Study XXXII with Tim Mosely (Lismore) on Australian artists’ books.

Case Study I
An Interview with Antic-Ham, Artist, South Korea, where she discusses book arts in Korea and her own artists’ books.

Case Study II 
An interview with Baysan Yüksel (Bayananderson), a 2nd Year Masters Fine Art student at Marmara University in Istanbul, Turkey

Case Study III 
John Bently, Artist, Liver & Lights Scriptorium, United Kingdom, on his practice, and why handmade is always best.

Case Study IV 
Bernd Reichert, Artist, Belgium, on his work with handmade, altered, zines and livres d’artistes.

Case Study V 
Caren Florance, Ampersand Duck, Press/Publisher, Australia, on her collaborative work, and including blogs under the book arts umbrella.

Case Study VI 
Wilber “Chip” Schilling, Artist/Publisher, USA (2010 Minnesota Book Artist of the Year in the annual Minnesota Book Awards), on his work under the Indulgence Press imprint.

Case Study VII 
Cathryn Miller, Artist, Canada, on her work with altered books and small editions.

Case Study VIII 
David Paton, Artist and Senior Lecturer: Visual Art, University of Johannesburg, South Africa – discusses artists’ books in South Africa, and work on his research website

Case Study IX 
Andrew Eason, Artist, UK, on his own artists’ books and possibilities for digital viewing and collecting.

Case Study X 
Fernanda Fedi and Gino Gini, Artists, Italy, on the importance of artistic impulse over how a book is produced.

Case Study XI 
Imi Maufe, Artist, Norway, on how a book can be anything from a traditional codex to a wearable piece of clothing/jewellery.

Case Study XII 
Jane Hyslop, Artist, and Academic, Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland, UK, on traditional printmaking and desktop publishing for both her own and students’ artists’ books.

Case Study XIII 
John Janssen, Private Collector, UK, on his own collecting methods and preferences in artists’ books. A second download continues with his self-interview: Artists’ Books: Still Collecting… further thoughts, update 2008

Case Study XIV 
Judy Barrass, Artist, Australia, discusses her artists’ books, including producing virtual books in the virtual world Second Life.

Case Study XV 
Karen Hanmer, Artist and Designer Bookbinder, USA, asks why design binding is often excluded in conversations about book arts.

Case Study XVI 
Leslie Wilson-Rutterford, Artist, UK, on her artists’ books and ephemeral works.

Case Study XVII 
Louise Levergneux, Artist, USA, on working with digital media and her obsession as an artist with archiving and collecting.

Case Study XVIII 
Lina Hakim, Artist, Lebanon on her bookworks and installations, and on collecting and recycling as methods for artworks.

Case Study XIX 
Lilla Duignan, Art Student, UK, discusses her study and the positivity for her in artist’s book definitions being varied, fluid and changeable.

Case Study XX 
Lin Charlston, Artist and Academic, UK, on her practice, expanding skills (both traditional and new tech) and teaching book arts.

Case Study XXI 
Lorelei Clark, Artist, Australia, discusses her work and how to describe the field of artists’ books.

Case Study XXII 
Malcolm James Enright, Artist, Australia, on his work with blogs, online books and the web community.

Case Study XXIII 
Melanie Bush, Artist, Curator / Collector (, Academic, on her own artists’ books, and how she teaches Book Arts.

Case Study XXIV 
Mette-Sofie D. Ambeck, Artist, Denmark, discusses her artists’ books and how do you define a book?

Case Study XXV 
Nancy Campbell, Dealer, UK, on her former work at Bertram Rota Ltd, and fine press books.

Case Study XXVI 
Mike Nicholson – Ensixteen Editions, Artist, UK, on using hand produced graphic narrative work.

Case Study XXVII 
Richard Price, Artist and Poet, UK, discusses collaborations, books and digital media works.

Case Study XXVIII 
Simon Ryder, Private Collector, UK, on collecting artists’ books and the impact of digital technology.

Case Study XXIX 
Stephen Spurrier, Artist, Australia, on his chapbooks, which he distributes as giveaways: Yes… this is an artist’s book, and No… this is not an artist’s book.

Case Study XXX 
Amanda Watson-Will, Artist, Australia, discusses her books and how texture, weight and haptic concerns are sources of inspiration for her when working with the book format.

Case Study XXXI 
Wojciech Wegrzynski, Artist, Warsaw, Poland, on his book practice and book art in Poland.

Case Study XXXII 
Tim Mosely, Artist, Australia, discusses his own books, teaching and the book arts in Australia.

Case Study XXXIII 
Horst Weierstall, Artist, Cyprus, on how his books are structured to encourage handling and create a sensory participatory experience.

Case Study XXXIV
Marian Amies, Associate Professor, Art and Art History, University of Missouri, Saint Louis USA, and students from the University of Missouri, on how good craft is stressed in book works, from digital to letterpress and hand bookbinding.