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Re: [BKARTS] BOOK_ARTS-L Digest - 17 Sep 2008 to 18 Sep 2008 (#2008-259)

Hello Laura,

I've been making copier printed 'book art' for some 35 + years. It was for me a sort of transgressive thing, printed my editions as needed with a copier printer I leased and kept in my studio. The pen and ink drawings were replicated resized and the layouts and printouts of my pages were done using Aldus Pagemaker. As the years went by, my technology improved when it got affordable to upgrade. I remember getting software and a stylus for making drawings directly on the computer screen.

Having a scanner was a big help. And Adobe Photoshop. Later Adobe took over Pagemaker and with bells and whistles renamed it Indesign.

I always printed out my editions as copier masters and ran off as many as I thought I needed. Mail art required some 25 to 50 copier prints. I did not know or care that people at the Center of Book Arts were looking down their noses at me. I wasn't breaking any of MY precedents. It was all so new to me that i made it up as I went along. The contents of what my books were about was taboo. And I wasn't about to go public indiscrimately with it. Not when i was earning my living teaching in the public schools and hoping eventually to collect my pension when I retired. And I was also very certain that my 'form' followed 'function'. That is I was not having to make editions that would crowd me out of house and home the way may painting were doing. As to the appropriateness of the route I chose to making multiples and keeping down my costs, The style and look of my books seemed about right for the Adults Only clientele I was pretending to be making it for.

I disdained the costly sort of art papers and going all artsy craftsy as to bindings. Mostly, my archival works on paper were in plastic page protectors and eventually come full flower as book art when I got an HP laser color printer/scanner. I now am printing my books on much larger papers than during those early years. I can say without being too immodest that many of the archives keep abreast of me. And my vintage works and my recent works in some rather serious collections here and abroad.

The question as to my books being 'bookart': It was because it was intended that it be 'art'. As such, it was about censorship. For curators and librarians of university collections, art museum libraries - and public libraries, the question always about my books having an esthetic appropriate to the subject (erotic and pornographic) genre I was engaged in doing. No one I came to talked about whether my papers were acid free or my choice of bindings or it having to be letter press or offset or serigraphy, etc. I was using what I had and could afford and did the job. Such matters didn't seem to make an iota of difference as to why my work was there in those collections.

Fundamental questions I address are: Which who am I in this work that does me? Does it matter as to my speaking of this or of that? Show, tell, what fantasies and to who? At what cost and can I and they afford it? And so what if it is only to some ostensible posterity? Each is a one-of-a-kind pretending to pass for a multiple, and let the relevance of it to me in the here and now govern the doing. I've not say or control over where it goes after I'm gone.

Norman Shapiro

Just one more thing: I'd rather my books not be a 'collectible'. Not be for someone whose concern is in being a trader, making a killing using art for gold or an admission pass to exclusive and very elite private clubs.


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Long Beach, New York, 11516

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