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Re: [BKARTS] Narrative book art

In order to find the balance between affordable books, and the full design
that occurs to me when publishing one of my written artist's books, I often
have an economical version, in addition to a more expensive collector's
edition. This way I can offer words at a price that means they'll get picked
up by a larger population. And for those who are willing or able to invest
in more artistic versions, those are available as well. Time consuming, for
certain. Thank goodness I like making them! Better than working at a car
wash and pumping them out on the side.

Alex, again.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Janice Sapp" <jansapp007@xxxxxxx>
To: <BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2008 2:27 PM
Subject: Re: [BKARTS] Narrative book art

This topic is interesting.

I have seen Haiku and other short poems done in artists' books that are
delicious in both the contents and the look and feel of the book.
I agree that a long narrative may not be 'right' for an artists' book,
however, I write short narratives and make prints to illustrate. I have had
a lot of success when I have put the prints and narrative together*.
Obviously, I would like to do the work more quickly and bind the book more
quickly because writing the story as well as making the prints is very
time-consuming and is not cost-effective when I get to the bottom line. But
my books this way satisfies something in my heart that yearns for me to take
time and pleasure in making the books that I do produce.  And the entire
book is an artists' book, at least, according to my definition.

*disclaimer here:  I have made a book with 7 prints of a butterfly in
transition and bound it in a bark paper.  I wrapped the signatures to the
spine with twine.
My client loved it and bought it when I designed it and before I made it.
Not all customers are as enthusiastic.  Jan Sapp

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2008 08:33:33 -0700
From: ocotilloarts@xxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [BKARTS] Narrative book art
To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

See my article "Now the Artists Book Now" on my website ocotilloarts.com
(under the "studio goals" tab). I think there are several reasons why you
are having difficulties finding examples. First, to theorize your problem,
the requirements you list are incompatible in important ways: books (in
the sense of printed -- usually long -- narratives) belong to a machine
aesthetic whereas art which aspires to uniqueness belongs to the handmade
aesthetic. Getting these two to mix is like oil and vinegar in salad
dressing -- you have to keep shaking the bottle. (This is the main topic
of the article I refer to.) Second, somewhat as a consequence of the
first, there aren't very many examples that meet all your criteria -- in
fact, I'd much like to see the list that will come out of your research.
Third, the economics of it are working against you. The shorter the
narrative the more difficult it is to tell any sort of meaningful story,
and especially one of any
 moral significance. Writing these things is a specialized talent. But you
(the artist) would rather work with a short text. You'd like to get this
thing done in your lifetime, you don't want to retreat to industrial
methods, and if you did come up with a damned thick square book of 500
pages of difficult writing and difficult art stewed into a critical
masterpiece what would you do with it? It's too big to edition, and where
is the collector who will pay $10K for the thing, especially since you've
been working so hard to get it done you haven't had any time to advertise
yourself, make any petit jeux for the galleries, etc. Finally, how many
people do you know who can write like Melville and draw like Kathe
Kollwitz? These are alll good reasons why the older conception of an
artist's book (with the apostrophe) was a commercial item for the carriage
trade made by a graphic artist using hijacked poetry.
There are also technical problems integrating text and the visual track to
the degree you require, largely having to do with the tyranny of the
rectangle imposed by typeset verbiage, and the requirement that the text
be legible and easily readable. The easiest solution is calligraphic.
Great -- we've already asked for a Melville and a Kollwitz and now we want
a Yan Zhenqing? I don't know about you, but I find the prospect of
narrative book art really intimidating.
Ocotillo Arts (Tempe AZ)
(PS I apologize for my website, which really needs renovating. Time, time,
time... )

________________________________ From: Jules Siegel <jules@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 4:56:29 PM Subject: [BKARTS] Narrative book art

I am writing an essay on narrative book art, a term that I thought was
prominent in our field, until I searched the term "narrative book art."
I got exactly one hit. Maybe I broke the Internet. Help me out here.

Example #1

"Minsky in Bed" by Richard Minsky
Text and commentary by Richard Minsky. His love life in the style of the
incunabula, with historiated, inhabited and illuminated initials.

Example #2

"Mad Laughter, Fragments of a Life in Progress"
Text, illustrations, facsimile documents and other visual objects along
with photographs by the author and others. Scenes from his life and
family history.

Shared characteristics:

[1] The text, typography and design are the work of a single author, who
creates or chooses the illustrations and also prints, binds and sells
the book.

[2] The book is meant to be read and looked at, but the text is main
conveyor, not the art. The text is not visually obscure.

[3] It tells a story in words and images; it's not a collection of
isolated pieces. The segments are at least several paragraphs long and
usually take up multiple pages. If it consists of very small segments,
such as poetry, they form a narrative.

[4] The layout is integrated with the story or complements it in a
global way. Richard's book has an antique design that gives his very
candid and explicit sexual memoir an amusing historical frame. My book
is laid out like a lavish university press version of a Great Man's
memoir, complete with documents from his personal papers.


* What other books like this do you know?

* Is narrative book art a recognized genre?

* Do you have any other defining characteristics to add?

* References and authorities?

* Other observations or points of interest

Many thanks for any assistance you may be inclined to offer.

-- JULES SIEGEL Apdo. 1764, 77501-Cancun, Q. Roo, Mexico http://www.cafecancun.com/bookarts

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