Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Arts Fair Slide Show

Thanks to our sponsors, exhibitors, demonstrators, lecturers and volunteers for a successful Book Arts Fair! It was truly a (R)evolutionary event!
See you again in 2012!

Super big Thanks to Neil Greentree for the fantastic photographs!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Binding By the Light" Article in the Gazette

Great Gazette! Thanks to Topher Forhecz for a thorough write up of the fair.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Paper Pop Up Magician is in town for the Fair

Paul Johnson, Paper Pop Up Magician, made an appearance at the Corcoran Museum last night for a talk about his incredible books. The audience was delighted as every container he opened from his suitcase was a magical delight as he swished open book after book like pulling rabbits from a hat. The best part about it was that he passed his books through the audience and actually let you touch them! Wow! When was the last time you got to touch and feel an artist book?
Paul Johnson is someone you don't want to miss at the Book Arts Fair this coming weekend. I promise he will let you touch his books!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Arts Fair Video!

Friend of the DC arts scene, Philippa Hughes, has made a nice plug for the BAF on her popular website The Pink Line Project.

See BAF Steering Committee Chair and Pyramid's Artistic Director Gretchen Schermerhorn discuss the upcoming action with Philippa, while Executive Director, Jose Dominguez, sets the context nicely.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sneak Preview with Paul Johnson, Book Artist

Paul Johnson, Book Artist/Paper Engineer


The Corcoran College of Art + Design and the Graduate Art and the Book program is proud to present a visit with paper engineer artist, Paul Johnson.

The lecture will start at 5:30 pm in the auditorium on October 29 at the Armand Hammer Auditorium of the Corcoran Museum of Art. There will be a question and answer period directly following the talk. The lecture is open to the at 500 17th Street, NW, DC.

Corcoran population and the general public.

–All Welcome.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Exhibitor Profile: Abecedarian Gallery

A chat with gallery owner Alicia Bailey of Abecedarian Gallery in Denver, CO.

Kelly: What's the story on Abecedarian Gallery...how long have you been around, what's your niche or specialty, and anything else you'd like us to know?

Abecedarian Gallery opened in November 2007. The first location was a small room in the back of a building that housed several other galleries and artists' studios. In July of 2008 Abecedarian moved to a larger store front in the 910 Arts Building, a green-built complex designed and built as a creative community center. The gallery has two exhibition spaces. The smaller of the two is the Reading Room where artists' books are always on view. The larger space hosts rotating exhibitions that, while not specifically artists' books, have qualities of sequence, narrative or interactivity that are somehow related to artists' books.

Kelly: Can you give us an example of the kinds of things going on at Abecedarian this fall - perhaps things you're particularly excited about?

Alicia: Currently on view in the main gallery is a solo exhibition by a Denver area artist Mia Semingson. The exhibit includes 366 photographs taken by Mia during a year-long project, presented in 12 accordion fold books, each book presenting a month of photographs. Also on display are larger prints from the series. In the Reading Room is Photo Book Works, an international exhibition of artists' books with photography as a primary element (excluding SPODS) that was juried by Mia. Images of work from current and past shows are available both as print documents and via link from the gallery website. Coming up in January is the student/emerging artist grant exhibition. Abecedarian has been setting aside funds for this award for several months. I hope the gallery is able to continue offering similar opportunities to student/emerging artists. The decision to continue will be determined by the level of interest in the award and my success in securing funds for it in future.

Kelly: What's the Denver art scene like and where do you see your gallery in it?

Alicia: Denver has a flourishing arts scene particularly in the performative (theater and music) arts. The Art District of Santa Fe, has been identified as one of the busiest and well-attended of the 450+ grass-roots districts in the nation. This means that Abecedarian has opportunity to increase exposure to a wide audience of gallery visitors, many of whom are unfamiliar with the artists' book genre. This part of the country is attractive to many because of the recreation opportunities so in Denver cultural aspects aren't as well-regarded as in other cities of similar size. I don't view this as a negative. The result is that I put more energy towards education and community service than I might were Abecedarian located in another city. As the only gallery in the area with an emphasis on artists' books, the gallery functions as an unofficial center for resource sharing, education and opportunity in the book arts.

Kelly: What are you working on in your own art these days?

I have three student interns right now, and we mostly work on the design and production of limited editions. Hot off the press is Theia Mania - a multi-piece collaborative project that includes a sound element. More than twenty other individuals helped me with this project.
I continue with my ongoing project Lovely and Amazing, which is a mixed-media series including books, boxes and three-dimensional collage inspired by and fabricated from an inherited archive of biological specimens, handwritten documents, drawings and photographs.

Kelly: What are you looking forward to seeing or doing at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair?
Alicia: Although it looks like an exciting schedule of presentations and workshops, I'll be spending my time there showing off the treasures from Abecedarian that I have selected for the fair. I will be bringing prints and books from several artists whose work I represent including Alice Austin, Emily Martin, Shu-Ju Wang, Tonia Bonnell, Johanna Mueller, Pati Scoby, Heidi Zednik and Jill Bergman.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tip of the hat to Washington Printmakers Gallery

WGP will be one our esteemed exhibitors in the Exhibition Hall during the Book Arts Fair. Check out Director Annie Turner's blog post here on what to expect!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Exhibitor Spotlight: Vamp and Tramp Booksellers

A look behind the scenes with Bill and Vicky Stewart, proprietors of Vamp & Tramp, Booksellers.

Kelly: What’s the story on Vamp & Tramp...what do you do, how long have you been around, what’s your niche or specialty, and anything else you’d like us to know?

Vamp & Tramp: We began Vamp & Tramp, Booksellers, LLC in 1995, selling modern firsts, mainly 20th-century literary and mystery first editions. This was in the early days of internet bookselling. We had a by-appointment site, which no one visited, and tried every way we could think of to sell books – none very successful. Three or four years later, I stumbled across Ron King's Circle Press edition of Antony & Cleopatra, and was hooked. We began carrying more and more contemporary fine press and artists' books. At about that time, we opened an open shop in Birmingham, with modern firsts, artists' books, fine press books, children's books, Alabama history books – anything we could think of to sell and pay the monthly rent. In December 2003, we had run out of money to lose, and were presented with a chance to acquire Califia Books.

Vicky and I decided to put our time, energy, and resources into what really excited us – contemporary fine press and artists' books. In 6 weeks we closed our open shop, divested ourselves of 4,500 more or less rare books and art works (by the end, we were half art gallery and half book gallery), and took to the road. The acquisition of Califia meant mostly contacts with many new (to us) book artists and access to some hitherto unplumbed institutional buyers. And because of the nature of the books – the physical aspects being so central – we decided that the only way to do this successfully and in a way ethically would be to take the books to the potential customers. Besides, the road trip aspect was fun, or seemed as if it would be fun. So while we did is a sense acquire Califia, we incorporated parts, namely artist and customer contacts, into what we were already doing. What really changed for us was the chance to devote ourselves full time to driving the books across the country.

Kelly: What do you look for in an artist’s work when you’re considering representing them for consignment?

Vamp & Tramp: Our first criteria tends to be what we refer to the as the WOW factor. The not-so-cute names is a distillation of what Bill was feeling when he saw that first Ron King book – wow, wow, wow, just wow. It’s an excitement, an electricity, a visceral sense of contact and connection. This doesn’t necessarily mean a big wow. There are all kinds of wows. Both of us don’t have to experience the wow connection with the book but at least one of us. Next we have to believe we can place it with a collection. Sometimes we are very attracted to a work but realize that we are probably not going to be able to place it. Although nominally we represent fine press and artists’ books, the majority of our placements are based on subject content. We place far more books because of their content than because of anything else.

Kelly: Is there anything in particular that an artist can do to help you be in a position to better sell or offer their work?

Vamp & Tramp: An artist should have not only a general artist statement but a statement about the specific work. A back-story is always helpful – why the work came about, how it developed. It doesn’t have to be pages and pages; just something that will better help us and the collector to understand more about the book. These stories help immeasurably in helping others connect with the work, and open the door to possible purchase. For us, it helps if the back-stories are written. The older we get the harder it is to remember all of the details.

Kelly: Can you give us an example of the kinds of things going on with Vamp & Tramp this fall – perhaps things you’re particularly excited about?

Vamp & Tramp: Our fall travel schedule is usually busy and this year more so. We’ll be on the road almost continuously from Labor Day until Thanksgiving: we’ll be across the US to San Diego, up the coast to Seattle, back to Birmingham, to Toronto, and then to the Northeast and Middle Atlantic states (on the trip that will bring us to Pyramid Atlantic). One of the fun things we get to do is spread the word about book arts and artists’ books. This comes in the form of presentations as well as new exhibition and book fair venues. In October we will be participating in a book fair in Toronto. While this is an antiquarian book fair we hope to make contact with collectors and collections that we can introduce them to the work of the artists we represent. This is our first foray into Canada so we are really looking forward to going across the border.

Kelly: What are you looking forward to seeing or doing at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair?

Vamp & Tramp: We always look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. Feeling the energy of the artists always reinvigorates us.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Exhibitor Spotlight- Elissa O'Loughlin

Gretchen: How did you start making tools?

Elissa: I was a metals major at Moore College of Art in Philadelphia in the 1970's and realized that the best tools are the ones you make yourself. When I went to work in conservation I saw the need for tools for boxmaking that were smaller than the ones available. I designed the 90-90-45- degree tool (nicknamed the "Nevada" by Garry Harrison) in 1994 and have been making them ever since. The triangles and other shapes came along when book folks asked for special sizes and shapes. Each tool is hallmarked with a wren and "WHT" which stands for Wren Haven Tools. The brass I use is soft brass which means that your knife won't be damaged if you go off square while cutting against it. There aren't alot of women tool makers out there, and I am excited that Shanna Leino will also be at the fair. She is an excellent metalworker!
Gretchen: How about your decorated papers?

Elissa: The papers started to develop as an extension of my interest in watercolor painting. Over the years I've studied the various historical decoration techniques as part of my conservation work. I enjoy mixing techniques from differernt traditions such as block printing and paste decoration. Recently I have been working on papers that I coat with a pigmented clay ground that gives a base for block printing with mica, as in Japanese karakame papers. There are many new pigments available now for us to work with. For example, the irgazines, which are intense and very lightfast. My next project is developing papers with the irgazine pigments for a six panel folding screen.

Gretchen: You are showing your folding screens at the Book Arts Fair. What attracted you to this format?

Elissa: The traditional Japanese folding screen, or byobu, presents an image in its perspective context. I like the way the angles of the screen allow for slight differences in the way an image is confronted, especially when the pigments used are irridescent like mica. In my screens I try to have a variation of the design in each panel so that the viewer sees the individual panels as a fluid image. I also have to admit that the assembly of the screens is an appealing process. You end up with an extremely sturdy but lightweight construct, which is the result of layering differerent types of Japanese papers over the wooden core.

Gretchen: Who are your artistic influences?

Elissa: I suppose I am a traditionalist and look to those artists who embraced aesthetics along with sound knowledge of their materials. This is the conservator in me speaking-- I enjoy art that is meant to be transitory, but I am certain that most artworks produced today will not survive to be 100 or even 50 years old because of materials choices. In the book arts there is a much better awareness of the nature of our materials, and we tend to appreciate the idea of longevity more than our colleagues working in other media.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Exhibitor Spotlight - Vicente Vertiz Pani

Vicente Vertiz Pani is one of our international artists that specializes in small editions of painted artist books that reflect his unique experiences. What follows is an interview that will explore the origin of his artistic influences and future projects.

Patty Lee: What is your first creative memory?
Vicente Vertiz Pani: The 1968 Olympics in Mexico city. I was just a kid 9 years old, but all the buzz around it inspired me to create a comic book that I wrote and drew about a very fat lady that was a real pain in the ass.

Patty Lee: What is the most interesting use of a book that you have seen?
Vicente Vertiz Pani: One I made when I was a boy that has the cover of a very serious text book and underneath I could camouflage a a sketch book or a comic book to make appear that I was studying.

Patty Lee: What is the oddest thing or experience that has inspired one of your works?
Vicente Vertiz Pani: My experiences as a pro ultradistance athlete, the kidnapping I suffered 16 years ago, the long walks of up 18 hours non stop I enjoy to do on the trips I take to different cities, odd buildings, etc...
Patty Lee: What are you working on right now, what is in your studio?
Vicente Vertiz Pani: I am working on several prints on wood for a book called "Ciudades en las que nunca he estado" (cities where I have never been) That is a group of 7 large format xilographies on Guarro paper, that I am going to present at the Estampa fair in Madrid Spain next October and in November at the Pyramid Atlantic Book fair. My studio right now is a mess. I have several prints on silk that I am painting by hand for a project on edition of wearable art, there are plates all over the place on big piece of wood over with I am carving a large format Xilografia blocks one of my entrance and on the other my dog an airdale terrier named Croc sleeps peacefuly so I cant get out.

Patty Lee: What is your favorite warm drink?
Vicente Vertiz Pani: Hot Chocolate with a touch of vanilla, cinnamon or coffee.

Look for more of Vicente Vertiz Pani's work at http://www.vicentevertizpani.com/

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Exhibitor Spotlight: Sarah Nicholls and The Center for Book Arts

Kelly: What is the Center for the Book Arts...and what is your role there?

Sarah Nicholls: The Center for Book Arts is a hybrid gallery/studio/hub of artistic and social activity. We were the first non-profit in the nation specifically devoted to book arts. We’re dedicated to encouraging contemporary interpretations of the book as an art object, as well as reinvigorating traditional artistic practices of bookmaking. What that means is we mount exhibitions, teach classes, offer lectures and talks, host poetry readings, and publish chapbook and exhibition catalogs, as well as offer scholarship and residency opportunities for artists and writers to expand their knowledge of the book as an art object.

I’m the Programs Manager, and I organize a workshop schedule of over 150 courses yearly in bookbinding, printmaking, letterpress and artists books. I develop our schedule of artist talks, poetry readings, professional development programs for artists, and panel discussions, as well as oversee our artist residency programs, scholarship programs, and annual poetry publications. I’ve collaborated with other organizations, such as the Drawing Center, CUNY, NYPL, Printed Matter and the Museum of Arts and Design, to present programs and events around New York City. I run the studio programs, maintain equipment, manage our studio volunteers and interns, and provide and/or arrange for technical support for our artists in residence.

Kelly: Can you give us an example of the kinds of things going on at The Center this fall – perhaps things you’re particularly excited about?

Sarah: Today we’re finishing up installing the three fall exhibitions, which open on Wednesday September 22nd: Ear to the Page, organized by James Hoff and Alan Licht, which is a show highlighting the interaction between audio recordings and books. There’s also a Featured Artist Project by Catya Plate called Clothespin Tarot, as well as an installation of recent works by renowned book artist Barbara Tetenbaum, who will be speaking later in November, as well as teaching a GREAT artist books class that begins with the relationship between music and the visual arts. She’s going to be here November 19-21.

I’m also really looking forward to Find a Collaborator! – a visual artists and writers mixer on October 6th; artists and writers are invited to come in and hear about the collaboration between Wennie Huang, former CBA resident, and Ed Go, poet and book arts student, bring in some examples of their own work, and then participate in a few simple exercises designed to help them find a potential collaborator for their own projects. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Kelly: What are you working on in your own art these days?

Sarah: I just finished carving blocks for two prints published by Cannonball Press. Who do great things! And I was really excited to be able to do that. I’m aiming to publish an Informational Pamphlet on Weasels on their Habits this fall, as part of an occasional pamphlet series. And I have an idea for a lino cut animation, called Hot Doug’s Sausage Superstore. That’s as far as that idea has gone so far.

Kelly: What can you tell us about those index cards? They’re quite compelling.

Sarah: The index cards, oh my. Well, most of my artwork uses found text. I collect my text on index cards, and photograph the really nice ones, mainly out of an obsessive need to document. The texts are works in progress and the photographs are evidence of that process. The ones that stick end up being set in lead type, and I think a lot about the difference in how a text sounds between when it’s scrawled on an index card and when it’s set in type and printed. Right now I’m collecting a lot of text on weasels, and on eating.

Kelly: What are you looking forward to seeing or doing at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair?

Sarah: I’m excited to see new work by old friends. I’m excited to get out of the city. I’m excited to see people I haven’t seen in a while. It’s always a great event.

Find Sarah at The Center for Book Arts, her website, and at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair in November!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Exhibitor Spotlight: Sarah Bryant of Big Jump Press

Kieu: I know you've recently finished a new artist's book. Can you tell us a little about it? Will we see it at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair?

Sarah: I began the design for Biography a year and a half ago after making a few prints about the periodic table. I wanted to create a book that explored the role of these chemical elements as both the discrete ingredients in our bodies, and the visual system way we’ve chosen to simplify and codify the world around us. The book introduces the table in an early spread with the elements present in the human body printed in specific colors. These colors identify the same elements throughout the book in a series of diagrams illustrating the chemical composition of the crust of the earth, sea water, and a variety of weapons, medicines, and man-made building materials.

I’m in the process of binding the book now and I’ll have several copies of it with me at the fair.

Kieu: You do a lot of letterpress printing in your work. What do you enjoy about letterpress printing?

Sarah: Letterpress has a lot to offer for me. It allows me to be in control of the process, and offers me a chance to experiment with varying methods of image production. It is ideal for editioning, which is critical. The traditional connection to publishing is also important to me. My books often draw from reference materials and educational printed matter, and I like that the process is related to the theme of the works.

Kieu: Can you share with us three books (artist's books, literature, etc.) that have influenced or inspired you in some way?

Sarah: Reference material of all kinds has always held a special place for me. In addition to my encyclopedias and old science books I collect Baedecker travel guides from the late 19th-early 20th century. These books were mass-produced with such sweet attention to details (half inch fold-outs to include certain elements in maps, for example) despite added costs. I enjoy reading the out of date information; which steam ship to take, how to pack, local customs, etc. I love this once useful set of information. I have a great Northern Germany guide from the 1920’s with descriptions of Dresden before the firebombing.

In Artist’s Book Land, Barb Tetenbaum’s Gymnopaedia #4 is a winner with me. And I’ll just admit right now that I love Watership Down.

Kieu: What do you look forward to doing or seeing at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair?

Sarah: Without a doubt I am most looking forward to seeing the other tables at the fair! It is such a luxury to be able to wander around a room and see what other artists and publishers are doing, to handle their books and talk to them (the people, not the books). I will be sharing a table with Jessica Peterson (of Paper Souvenir), a great friend who lives a thousand miles away, and we will probably spend a lot of the day laughing.

Kieu: And for the random question of the day -- I think all of us have very diverse interests. If you could have another career in addition to being an artist, what would you choose?

Sarah: I enjoy teaching books, so maybe I’d teach something else? God knows. Fireman?

Sarah's websites:



Saturday, September 18, 2010

Katie Baldwin: Exhibitor Spotlight

GS: What are you working on currently?

KB: I am working on a series of narrative prints that use the traditional Japanese woodblock technique called moku hanga. This work has a little letterpress tossed into it as well. These prints will be exhibited at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art. The show is just around the corner, so I am carving like crazy and getting ready to edition very soon. It’s pretty much all I think about…

GS: What are you most interested in exploring in your upcoming projects?

KB: I received a Van Line/Stein Scholarship from The Center for Book Arts. I am interested in taking as many workshops I can in order to explore a variety of book structures. In the past I have worked a lot with the accordion, and it’s time to move to other things. I am hoping to learn some new skills, develop new forms and see what ideas I generate.

I am also looking forward to experimenting with textiles and felting. I did a wall installation piece for Philagrafika last year that really surprised me. I worked with cut paper and felted wood and created a narrative installation. The end result was really interesting to me and I hope to continue developing my ideas with these materials.

GS: How or when did you discover your love of woodblock printing?

KB:As an undergraduate at The Evergreen State College, I studied sculpture. When I was finished with school, I moved to Montana and lived in a very small apartment with my daughter. I didn’t have access to a studio, tools, equipment, or even a community of artists. My dad sent me a set of carving tools as a gift and I started carving wood to make prints by hand. I didn’t know much about the process, but I liked planning out images in the same way that I enjoyed planning out sculptural pieces. However, I think I really fell in love with the labor of carving. Somehow, taking the time to carve my images out of wood makes a lot of sense to me—work and labor make a lot of sense to me. As I became more proficient with printing, I became attracted to the idea of becoming skilled at an obsolete technology. This drew me to letterpress, book arts and moku hanga. Of course, it takes a lot of time to become skilled at these things. I am still working on that today.

GS:If you could have dinner with three artists, living or deceased, who would you choose?

Marilyn Frasca, again.

Louise Bourgeois, of course.

Mary Katherine Goddard, for fun.

GS: What are you looking forward to doing or seeing at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair?

I am looking forward to getting out of Philly for a bit, visiting friends, and seeing the new work at the fair. I do hope that I will be able to back track and find that restaurant that Mary Phelan took me to in Silver Springs—the one where they serve $1 beers in small juice glasses.

GS: I'm pretty sure Katie is referring to The Quarry House, Silver Spring's favorite dive, located across the street from Pyramid Atlantic. They carry the largest selection of brews in the area, and yes, serve many of them in tiny glasses for a mere $1.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Exhibitor Spotlight: Letterpress Printer and Artist Val Lucas of Bowerbox Press

Marty Ittner: What has Bowerbox been up to lately?

Val Lucas: I have been printing a lot of custom wedding invitations this summer, as well as working on new woodcuts for coasters and small prints. I'm planning to begin some small, fun color reduction woodcuts, hopefully in time for the Fair. I've also been restoring an old C&P letterpress and am really excited to get that working again; the new press will probably become my real workhorse press for custom work, leaving the bigger Colt's Armory available for printing big woodcuts. Restoring presses is something I love just as much as actually printing!

Marty: What are some differences you see between the Baltimore and DC letterpress/art communities?

Val: Well, Baltimore is about to get its first community shop, which should draw a lot of printmakers out into the open— I know of several commercial shops in Baltimore but I'm sure that many printers are lurking in the shadows! MICA is offering more letterpress classes, so more people are learning about it. I'm a member of APHA (American Printing History Association) and the Potomac chapter includes printers from the DC area as well as Baltimore, Virginia and even Delaware; but I'm only really familiar with DC through my network of APHA friends, most of whom operate private presses. I have not had a lot of contact with the younger printers in DC—I hear of great things going on at Pyramid but haven't been able to participate. I do hope that both communities continue to grow and find new ways of reaching out to each other.

Marty: I see you created a Edgar Allan Poe poster...did you know Pyramid Atlantic will be putting on "The Big Read" focusing on Poe? Hal Poe will be also speaking at the Book Arts Fair.

Val: I heard that Hal will be there— I am excited to hear him speak. I created the broadside in honor of Poe's 200th birthday, but also because I was itching to carve a really big block. The broadside is the maximum paper size I could fit on the Vandercook and still fit the entire poem in large enough to read!

Marty: What will you be bringing to the Book Arts Fair?

Val: Bowerbox Press will be showing The Raven and Albatross broadsides as well as other woodcuts in the Avecedarium series (alphabet of birds), reduction prints, woodcut cards and also handmade books featuring woodcut covers and glass portholes.

Marty: How did you come up with the name BowerBox?

Val: Bowerbox is a combination of 2 things, bowerbird: my favorite birds, they built elaborate bowers to attract a mate which they decorate with flowers, berries, bits of plastic- each bird is an individual, a collector; and birdbox, an idea for a website name that was taken. Best of both!

Marty: I love your beautiful bird renderings. Are you a bird watcher? What sources to you use?

Val: I'm only a dabbler in bird-watching; I do love watching and scouting for birds whenever I get the chance. I grew up outside of Baltimore near the park, where lots of birds live. I consider myself lucky to have grown up there, and also to have been interested enough to learn the names of the birds (bedtime reading was the Peterson bird guide for awhile.) Most of my images, sadly, come from birds that have hit a window or other structure. I carefully photograph and sketch them, not only to memorialize them but to use as inspiration for my work. It's sad, but it's also much easier to draw a bird that isn't moving. I also have 2 lovebirds at home, and sometimes they show up in my work.

Marty: There has been a letterpress craze for a few years. Do you think the momentum is still there, or has the market become oversaturated?

Val: There is definitely a resurgence in interest, both in printing itself and the letterpress printed product. I think it's great that so many young artists are learning how to print, and more importantly saving all the old equipment from the scrap heap. I do worry a little about the "fad" side of it, as even large corporations are noticing the trend (Starbucks using faux-wood type lettering, Fossil working in Hatch Show Print) but most of my customers are still genuinely impressed by the feel and look of the letterpressed pieces. However, if the fad gets out of control, I just hope to continue working true to my own craft and heart, creating well-printed pieces of art and respecting the tradition, and I'll still be here when everyone moves on to the next thing.

Marty: What's next? What can we look forward to from Bowerbox?

Val: Well, Bowerbox Press is hoping to break into wholesaling cards to stores, and at the same time I'd like to expand what I'm doing with my fine prints. I have done a lot of craft fairs, and while they are great they just take so much effort that I often neglect working on that new print in order to get ready. I'd love to finish up my Avecedarium series, and maybe work on some larger reduction woodcuts. Of course I also plan to continue rescuing and restoring old presses to printing condition.

The Raven, 2009, woodcut and polymer on Arches Cover, 15x21. Photo of Val Lucas courtesy of Stuart Bradley.

Find Val at
www.bowerbox.com and bowerbox.etsy.com and at the Book Arts Fair in November!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Libros de Artista: An Interview with Carla Nicolas

We are delighted that Carla Nicolás, Pyramid Artist-in-residence during the the month of November, will be presenting a lecture titled Flipbooks: Back to Front, at the Book Arts Fair. I asked her some questions regarding her present work, upcoming projects, and what she is looking forward to at the Book Arts Fair.

What are you working on currently?
Carla: I’ve finished ‘Derelict’ recently, an unreadable book-sculpture. This book is like a drift boat: the content is a sea of paper making with aeronautical tables, the welded structure cover represents the upper works (part of the boat out of water) and his light’s the lighthouse wich will take to solid ground. The light is a very important part of this work.

Gretchen: What are you most interested in exploring in your upcoming projects? What will you work on during your residency at Pyramid?

Carla: I’m interested in letterpress woodblock printing (I don’t have the possibility in the city where I live) and I want to work about the unique book concept with sculptural forms.

Gretchen: If you could have dinner with three artists, living or deceased, who would you choose?

Carla: I’d choose have dinner with Käthe Kollwitz, Charles René Mackintosh and Edgar Degas. (it’s a great and very dificult question… maybe tomorrow I’d choose other artists like Warhol, Dalí, Tàpies... but this is the answer for today).

Gretchen: What are you looking forward to doing or seeing at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair?

Carla: I hope to learn watching the works of the artists invited and his creative process, find new concepts, materials and other processing around book arts. In short, I hope to find quality artist’s works and interact with them. This is a great opportunity to learn and nurture the intellect and creativity.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Early Bird Registration

"Nest Soho-2" by Leilei Guo

Registration is now open for the Book Arts Fair and Conference! Sign up from now until September 15 for the early bird special to the Book (R)evolution. There is an entire menu of choices so there is sure to be something to fit your schedule. The best deal, of course, is to get a pass for the whole shebang, and honestly, why wouldn't you want to? And, students, we have a special rate for you too!

We have been working nonstop adding more exciting events to the three-day program--much faster than we can update the website! But don't worry, all the details are coming soon!
We are now adding the names of fair exhibitors, and information on demonstrations and exhibitions will follow. That's right--exhibitions with an 's'!

Just yesterday one of our fair coordinators Lindsay asked (half-jokingly) if she could register for the fair too. But that is how all of us feel--we want to go to everything too! We are buzzing with energy and excitement here and looking forward to bringing you a great weekend of events.

Can't wait? Register here.

"Floating Palace" by Paul Johnson

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Interview with Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is an English book artist who has been making books and teaching how to make books since the 1980s. He is known internationally both for his teachers and his lively, architectural, pop-up books. Paul will present Books as Architecture, a demonstration of techniques which feature no folds, but hinges, dovetail locks and joints instead. Paul sat down recently and answered some of our questions about his process.

When did your interest in the book arts begin? What did you do before you became interested in book arts?

My love of home-made books started as a child. My father produced twenty-five sketchbooks full of drawings of our family life between 1939 and 1963. This collection is a social document and deserves to be published and is my greatest treasure. But it was not until my early forties in the mid- eighties that I started to make my own books. Before then I was into experimental forms of art - visual poetry and performance art. I took a published pop-up book to pieces to see how it was made and then did my own work from that starting point. Why? I just don't know where the interest in pop-ups came from except that as a child I loved making models of castles and pirate ships that where printed on the back of cornflake packets. You cut them out and glued them together. I guess that my work today comes from my childhood creative life at the kitchen table. What a tragedy that most young people today, like my fourteen-year-old son are locked into an exclusively electronic, passive, world.

Where do you look for inspiration?

I have two creative passions - architecture and natural forms. In some cases the two integrate in, for example medieval cathedrals - the buildings grow just like plants do although made of stone. I grew up in the medieval city of Norwich in the east of England. There is a medieval church on every small street - over thirty of them. It is a magical place - it holds my soul - although I left there over fifty years ago. Since my parents died some time ago I have not returned and will not return. The past should be deposited in a secret place in the mind and left there to live a life of its own. I adore the architecture of Japan and Thailand too - maybe you can see the influence in my work? If my life could be stretched to infinity I would spend weeks solely drawing the trees and flowers in our garden. My wife knows the names of all of them - I envy this knowledge. I just refer to them as 'the small blue one one with five petals.' Like my father, I make sketchbooks and draw in one nearly every day. Not surprisingly it is ancient churches, landscape and plants that I draw most. England is so rich in these things.

You describe your technique as architectural, b/c of your use of dovetail joints, hinges, and locks, but your books also resemble houses. Did the house shape came out of the technique or was it the other way around?

I make movable books that have no folds partly to avoid paper fatigue caused through the constant movement of opening and closing a book but also because when paper is joined with a hinge there is greater structural flexibility than folded paper; the finished piece opens and folds down more easily. Of course the pieces take longer to make but the benefits are considerable. All my new work and indeed new workshops employ this style of construction.

One of your books is called Literacy Through the Book Arts, how do you understand the relationship between book arts and literacy?

I live two professional lives - related yet separate. One life - the one I have already referred to - is about making one-of-a-kind pop-up books. The other life is spent in schools making books with children and working alongside teachers. It is a holistic process integrating text and image and book form. I have written fifteen books about making books with children in which the book as form and the book as content is a continuum. Book artists tend to come from a visual background and not a linguistic one and consequently are not always as at ease with the content of their books as with the physical structure. I am just about to embark on my next, and I think final published book - The New Pop-up Paper Engineering. My Pop-up Paper Engineering was published in 1993 and was one of the first books to attempt to describe and define the genre. It is still in print. This new book is due to be published in 2013, twenty years after the first one and coinciding with my seventieth birthday. Somehow I have to make time to write it. So many places yet to visit. So many people I want to meet. So many things I want to make. Each new day is a precious gift for which I give thanks. So much yet to be done...