Book Arts Projects
There were several craft-based electives available to me in graduate school, offering a chance to get away from the computer and stretch hand skills in other areas. I chose to take Book Arts with famed Bay Area artist Macy Chadwick. In her course, we learned to sew signatures and bind case-bound books, to wrap fabric covers, and to even make our own paper. I found the various projects disorienting at times, but very creatively satisfying.
State History of the U.C.S.A.
Find an existing book and alter it using any medium you choose to change the context and meaning of the original work in an interesting way.
STATE OFFICIAL EARLY INDUSTRIAL HISTORY OF THE UNITED CAPITALIST STATES OF AMERIKA is a 120pp altered book that tells the story of American History through a 1930s–40s Soviet propaganda lens.
Illustration | Papercraft | Collage | Copy Writing + Editing
While browsing Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, I came across a history textbook from the early twentieth century; AMERICA: 1857–1900. The copy was overwrought and dry (which I expected), yet the engravings were beautiful. My initial thought was, what if someone were to rewrite it? This got me thinking about revisionism in general, and how it has been practiced by all sorts of governments to consolidate, establish or maintain their power.
I find the history, art and design of the Soviet Union endlessly fascinating. What if the Soviets rewrote this American textbook? The Civil War would be recast as a bloody worker revolt against rich industrialists. The renegade cowboy would become the loyal farmer; Lincoln, a socialist.
Inspired by two of my favorite art movements, Russian Constructivism and Dada, I set about transforming the book using a combination of collage, acetone transfers and a healthy dose of redaction with a thick Sharpie. Each spread changes the context of the original text to serve the Soviet.
I gathered sourced images from four different books on Russian propaganda design to create my compositions. To augment the new narrative, I borrowed quotes from Orwell’s 1984 and sprinkled them throughout. I also included homages to my design heroes of the era such as Rodchenko and Lissitzky.
The project was selected for inclusion in AAU's 2007 Book Arts Juried Show.
Design an accordion-style book that tells a sequential narrative. Develop a metaphor or theme appropriate to the format and the story being told.
DESTINATIONS is a conceptual, 36pp accordion book that takes the vernacular of the US passport in a new direction.
Illustration | Photography | Design + Layout | Papercraft | Copy Writing + Editing
I love to travel, and I find it interesting to listen to people describe the places that they’ve been. Invariably, upon returning from a fantastic trip abroad, you can hear a sadness set in. “It’s over,” they say. “Now I’m home again and it’s back to the everyday routine.” Yet throughout our lives, as we move from one place to another--to a new city, or a new job, or a new relationship--we are in a sense ‘traveling’ all the while.
For this project I became interested in re-examining the concept of travel as it applies to our life’s journey as opposed to an exotic vacation. Each spread represents one calendar year of my life. I designed an immigration-style stamp for each place that I’ve lived, noting the city and year. After making laser prints of the art in reverse, I used acetone to apply them to the passport. Because acetone transfers toner onto color inkjet prints rather unevenly, the result was an authentic, stamped feel.
The final passport is a documentation of my life’s more ‘ordinary travels,’ from childhood to leaving home and venturing out into the world.
Create a fictional narrative based on two pieces of information provided at random by a classmate: a word from the dictionary and a single piece of art.
THE LIFE & TIMES OF FINNIGUS FLINT a fictional, humorous narrative using Victorian woodcut illustrations and typography. The book is hand-bound.
Design + Layout | Papercraft | Copy Writing + Editing
I was given the word “flint” and a Dover woodcut illustration of a mother with child. From this, I invented the character of “Finnigus Flint,” a self-made industrialist and robber baron from the late nineteenth century. Inspired by the art that was provided to me, I sought out other Dover volumes and selected items from their collections that I found interesting. Having assembled this pile of Victorian-era illustrations, I then wrote a fanciful tale based on what they suggested to me.
I took this project as an opportunity to produce a piece replete with humor. I wrote the copy as if it were a seminal account of Flint’s life commissioned by his estate. The narrative is overly laudatory to the point of being ridiculous, glossing over the man’s obvious character flaws as if they were virtues. Here is a man who amassed a fortune by inventing the “magneto-auto-gyro-matic,” took to storing his wife in a water cage, was ousted by his business partners and travelled the world seal hunting, only to die in the Himalayas unaided by his Eurasian manservants.
Every caption begins with the phrase “in which our man Flint” as an homage to the 1960s spy character and film of the same name.
Design an accordion-style book to illustrate a poem.
We were tasked with designing a piece that could be read in both directions. The narrative repeats back to front, with the reverse page order a ghostly shadow of the forward narrative.
Peace in the Garden
Develop a concept best showcased by a tunnel book construction. Emphasize the strengths of this unique format by experimenting with depth and scale. Design and construct a custom box to house the piece.
PEACE IN THE GARDEN is a conceptual, tunnel book that represents the experience of the traditional Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
Photography | Caligraphy | Papercraft
I have a passion for Japanese garden design, and one of the things I find most compelling about them is how the landscaping is arranged to manipulate scale. Miniature bonsai trees placed in the foreground can amplify the surrounding landscape, just as a well placed boulder can make a koi pond seem like an vast ocean bay.
Tunnel books are an unusual format best suited to atmospherics as opposed to literal narrative. Because the central visual effect is one of depth, a piece representing a Japanese garden—with its own playful take on scale—seemed natural. I made my way to Golden Gate Park and their Tea Garden to shoot photos over several afternoons.
The tunnel book structure requires a large frame on the front panel to hold it together, so I took a classical illustration of the famous “floating” torii gate at Itsukushima Shrine and used it as the entrance to my garden. I blurred and darkened each successive page, or level, of the book slightly more than the one before it to heighten the sense of depth and perspective.
The rice paper lining the accordion sides of the tunnel features reproductions of Japanese poetry. For the box that houses the book, I wrote a haiku poem for the reader to ponder:
A New Perspective
Looking into the Distance
Peace in the Garden