By: Maryanna Hatfield
Technology is expanding faster and faster before our very eyes. Not a single day goes by without the introduction of a new piece of technology, aiming to help improve people’s lives—including artists’ lives. Often times these new technologies actually do help people out. For example, in the animation industry, it helped create an all new form of animation: 3D animation. Animating became easier and artists can now achieve amazingly realistic effects. At the same time, technology made it harder for other animators, specifically 2D animators. Due to the power of 3D animation, 2D animation is becoming increasingly nonexistent. Many artists are even having trouble finding work.
But what does this mean for books and bookmaking artists? Is technology helping to improve bookmaking practices or does it end up destroying older, well-loved processes? Before considering this, it is important to first understand what technologies are available for artists in this field.
One new piece of bookmaking technology is bookmaking software, such as Bookwright. Bookwright is a free, “powerful, multi-featured design and layout application for creating photobooks, trade books, magazines and ebooks” (Blurb.com). This program is useful in many ways. Instead of setting type by hand (which is often very tedious, difficult and slow), you can just type onto your computer and adjust the text however you want. If you want to change the type of your book and make it into a magazine or an eBook, you are free to do so. In addition, the program formats your book for you so you have a perfectly formatted book every time. Also, you can print copies of your book at affordable prices with a range of options to choose from, like the quality of the paper. Finally, if you wanted to add something like custom end sheets or foil stamping, that option is available to you as well.
The next piece of technology that’s available for bookmakers is Adobe products like Illustrator and Photoshop. These programs aren’t specifically for bookmakers, but they can definitely be used to help make books. In these programs there is a wide range of tools to create new images on the computer. You can adjust these images by changing the lighting, size and color. You could also adjust the rulers to perfectly align your images and margins. When the images are done, simply print the images on a printer.
The last technology is Aquafadas. Aquafadas is an app where you can upload your already created book and publish it in digital formats including eBooks and PDFs. You only have to “pay when you publish” (Aquafadas.com). You may also add “interactive enrichments” including “video and slideshow capabilities, 360˚ viewing, locations services, games and many more” (Aquafadas.com).
While technology is advancing, book artists should have no fear as it doesn’t appear that these technologies are destroying old bookmaking ways. These technologies, while useful, are still all pretty limited as to what they can do. For example, Bookwright has very limited options in paper type and what kind of embellishments and decorations you can add to your piece. If you wanted to add images or text that is sewn or use kitikata paper, you’re out of luck.
With that being said, if one really wanted to make a handmade book, they would need to make their own books using older tools like bone folders and thread. The only thing that has really changed with the introduction of these new technologies is that there is more of an emphasis on making books digital (but not so much that actual handmade books are becoming obsolete). In fact, with programs like Aquafadas and Bookwright, it is actually becoming easier (and more affordable!) to spread your art and make it more accessible to readers.
Adobe. Adobe, n.d. Web. 2 November, 2015.
Aquafadas. RakutenGroup, n.d. Web. 2 November, 2015.
BookWright. Blurb, n.d. Web. 2 November, 2015
By Sofia Maria Paz
E-readers & The Old-fashioned World of Physical Books
Aside from online databases, Amazon’s easily accessible plethora of electronic books is the main resource for text-based material, used by adults and children alike. With the creation of electronic reading devices, specifically Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad, paperbound magazines and books have become obsolete, unable to match the immediacy and convince of e-books. However, popular opinion fails to recognize that electronic devices actually obstruct our immersive reading experience. The quintessential book form that executes this essential quality e-books lack are pop-up books. These three dimensional moveable books are the epitome of craftsmanship, innovation, and artistry in the book industry. An art form mechanical machines are incapable of reproducing. To fully appreciate the pop-ups’s value in today’s technological age, one must consider their various creative formats, historical origins, and unique production in designing, constructing, and mass-producing these shelved books.
Unlike origami, which solely consists of a single folded sheet of paper, pop-up engineering combines various cut pieces of folded paper adhered together with glue and string. With the ability to use adhesive materials, pop-ups have evolved into multiple different types. The ones most commonly seen today are two-paged three-dimensional pop-ups called spreads. Traditional pop-up books generally contain only six to eight spreads due to the thickness of the paper necessary to make the pop-ups durable, amounting these books an average total bulk of three inches high with an average weight of two pounds each. The complete antithesis compared to the portable light-weight convenience of reading tablets.
Despite their physical inconveniences, pop-ups offer limitless avenues for creative, recreational, and educational means, just as their technological e-book counterparts do. As we shall come to lean in the essay, the pop-up medium can still hold the same entertainment and educational value as it did originally, and should be granted the literary attention and popular recognition it deserves. With a historical footprint stretching back seven centuries, pop-up books root themselves in a variable past driven by development, experimentation, and adaptation.
The History & Origins of Pop-Ups
Contrary to present mainstream attitudes, pop-up books were initially designed for adults, serving as educational tools for learning and sharing information. The earliest known pop-ups date to the 14th century, found in the illuminated manuscript Chronica Majora created by the Benedictine monk, Matthew Paris. On some of its pages, Paris designed calendars using revolving paper disks to help other monks calculate the approach of religious holy days. These volvelles were also used in documents to make astronomical predictions and decipher secret codes.
Recognizing their didactic value, moveable pop-up elements were later incorporated into medical textbooks. Layers, flaps, and pockets integrated with illustrations and diagrams to accurately depict the different parts of human anatomy. These interactive pages provided the visual tools to offer deeper level of understanding that written text and flat images alone could not match.
It was not until the 19th century when the German illustrator, Lothar Meggendorfer, introduced the pop-ups as an entertainment medium for children. His first pop-up books were transformations, where the reader tugged on tabs to pull down hidden vertical slats that slid over the underlying drawing to create a new scene. Meggendorfer continued engineering pop-ups by designing complex moveables, where a single pull tab would animate multiple features in each illustration, adding humor and visual appeal to his targeted young audience.
Currently, pop-up books have reached the highest degree of craft, imagination, and invention. The elaborated works of the paper engineers Robert Sabuda and Mathew Reinhart are recognized for their whimsical and sophisticated qualities, including Reinhart’s Star Wars: A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy, which also incorporated lights and sound on the page spreads. The New York Times revered Reinhart’s book stating, “ […] calling this sophisticated piece of engineering a “pop-up book” is like calling the Great Wall of China a partition.”
Paper engineers have constantly been pushing the boundaries of three-dimensional structures, each one more intricate than their last. Behind these art books lies a long road of trial and error in the realm where imagination meets the physical limitations in real space, revealing how labor intensive pop-ups are.
Piecing The Pop-Up: Collaborations, Creation, & Reproduction
Just like their historical counterparts, today pop-up books are still assembled by hand from start to finish. Because of their level of labor and complexity, pop-up books are often the product of specialized artists, including writers, illustrators and paper engineers, collaborating by sending material to one another through email and overnight shipping. The artist and author, Chuck Fischer, and Bruce Foster, a paper engineer, are known for their pop-up book collaborations including A Christmas Carol: A Pop-Up Book and Angels: A Pop-Up Book. The key to Fischer and Foster’s success in creating a seamless cohesive books thousands of miles apart, was by following through a regimented sequence of exchanging each other’s images and modules.
When a story is written, designing pop-up books, like almost all forms of artistic media, begins with sketches. It is these drawings forged by the illustrator that serve as the basis for the paper engineer to construct a full scale mockup spread called a white paper dummy. While finalizing on a white dummy, the paper engineer experiments with multiple models to ensure the pop-up’s functionality and durability.
The white dummy’s individual pieces are then transferred onto tracing paper. These tracings are then passed back to the illustrator as guides to outline templates for coloring and painting elements of the original artwork. Usually both the front and back of each paper piece are painted. High resolution scans of the original artwork are then printed, cut, and applied back onto the white paper dummy, to check that the pop-up still functions properly.
Using a specialized software, the individual high resolution scans are grouped and arranged on file layouts called nesting sheets. The purpose of nesting sheets is to maximize the printed surface area of a single sheet, limiting paper waste. The nesting sheet files are then sent to be run through a inkjet printer. There is only handful of print shops that can mass-produce pop-up books, most of which are located in Asia.
Just like the white paper dummy, print shops construct the pop-up books by hand through a series of assembly lines. Each worker is assigned one task in either cutting, folding, or glueing. Even the book’s hardcover is aligned and glued together without mechanical intervention. It takes an average of eighteen months to conceive, design, construct, print, and assembly one pop-up book edition. For this reason, some extremely complicated pop-ups are exceptionally valuable, especially in today’s technology-driven market.
Pop-ups in a Contemporary Context
It is undeniable that the essential essence of a pop-up book contains elements of surprise, targeted to make the reader smile. The “No Way!” factor so to speak. Whether it be unveiling animated three-dimensional characters, discovering secret pullouts or compartments, or seeing spinning elements appear to fly off the page, pop-ups provide a level of personal interaction with the viewer unlike any other art form. For this reason, pop-up books have the potential to exist outside of the world of children’s literature.
Despite their playful format, exhibiting artists are beginning to incorporate the medium into their creative practice. For instance, the printmaker and book artist Carolyn Trant, used the pop-up medium in her illustrated book inspired by Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights.” Even the artist Kara Walker created “Freedom, A Fable: A Curious Interpretation of the Wit of a Negress in Troubled Times,” a pop-up book of silhouettes where her feminine aesthetic lures in the viewer to then disturb them with a visual narrative recalling stereotypes, violence, and abuse. Though the world of moveable books is small, paper engineering is being adopted for a multitude of artistic expressions.
The paper engineer is an artist, a sculptor, a contractor, an inventor. A contemporary Renaissance man of the literary wold. Nevertheless, in this day and age, society’s perception has become predominantly fixated within the boundaries of computer, tablet, and smart phone screens. Even though no technological means can reproduce a pop-up’s intricacy, the medium still remains under the threat of being diminished to the significance of three dimensional Hallmark greeting cards.
Since the introduction of Amazon’s Kindle in 2007, book retail stores have suffered due to the drastic drop in print book sales. Most notably in 2011 Waldenbooks’ Borders, the nation’s second largest book chain, had to declare bankruptcy and shut all its doors. This drastic demise in the retail book industry is due to the increasing amount of customers enjoying the instant delivery of e-books straight onto their e-readers. The root of the matter is that bound books cannot meet e-readers’ impatient fast-passed demands. Even the time elapsed to turn a page is deprecated for being too slow compared to the immediacy of a finger swipe. Nevertheless, public opinion yields to acknowledge that the greatest downfall of electronic books is also their most appealing aspect.
Fundamentally, e-books do not exist in three dimensional space. They are the mere electronic version of the printed book, who's content is only accessible through e-readers. The pages of pop-up books extend outward, upward, and backward, they can spin, slide, wave, pull, and flap. They interact with us within our personal space, demanding the reader to sit-down and meditate over the elaborate spreads. Ultimately, the question we must ask ourselves is if we wish to limit our reading experience within the boundaries of two by five inch screens that fit in our jeans.
Evenhaugen, Anne. “Artists’ Books at AA/PG: Kara Walker’s Pop-up.” Smithsonian Libraries. Unbound, 03 Sept. 2012. Web. 28 Nov. 2015.
Haining, Peter, Moveable books: An illustrated history. London, New English Library, 1979.
Lindberg, Sten G. “Mobiles in Books: Volvelles, Inserts, pyramids, divinations, and children’s games.” Private Library, 2:9Ä256, June 1, 1991.
Losowsky, Andrew. “As Its Final Stores Close, We Ask: What Happened To Borders”? The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 16 Sept. 2011. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.
Meggendorfer, Lothar, The genius of Lothar Meggendorfer. New York, Random House, 1985.
Pogue, David. “A Galaxy in Your Face.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2007. Web. 29 Oct. 2015
Walker, Kara Elizabeth., David Eisen, and Timothy Silverlake. Freedom, A Fable: A Curious Interpretation of the Wit of a Negress in Troubled Times, with Illustrations. Los Angeles: Peter Norton family., 1997. Print.
Author: Gabriel Cebrowski
Music is universally appreciated. It serves as a form of escape, a moment of relaxation, even meditation. Rest assured, it is a form of art that touches many people. Much goes into the production, whether the songs are thoroughly conceptual or just senseless fun. In either case, the production of the music will try to match the “ambiance” of the artist album and use it as a gimmick for their concerts, or exposure, often used to divide one album from their previous one. A good portion of this “ambiance” goes into the booklets or casing of the music. Many musicians would use booklets or covers as a way to label those involved in the project, provide lyrics and to protect the music. Other musicians would use these booklets to their fullest advantage and incorporate the “ambiance” into the booklets, acting as an extender to their idea and providing a further view of the concept that they wish to deliver with their music.
One of the first and very popular forms of released music was the LP records. Born at the late 40’s, LP records became very popular and were one of the first forms of distributing music to the public. LP records were played on the phonogram. Since the records were huge, most of the “cases” were done with thick, square paper that was slightly bigger that the record itself. The case would sometimes have a pocket, where the records would be slipped on. The insides of the albums differ from album to album. Some don’t open and have the pocket on the side where the record would be. Others would have pages or photography or artwork with the records place in a pocket somewhere in the middle pages. LP albums don’t usually have many pages, since the booklet is already big enough, a lot of information can fit in one page. Most of the time the credits for the records were placed on the backside of the album.
The next form of capturing music would be the cassette tape, which are much smaller and portable than the LP albums, but slightly bulky. Although cassettes were innovative for their smaller stature, their booklets were not as complex as those of their previous relative. Cassettes booklets aren’t really “books” to begin with. They are a long, thin sheet of paper that is folded various times. The inside of the sheet would contain the lyric or credits from the album. Sometime, excerpts written by the artist fill those pages. The outside section would have the photography that represents the album, though if necessary, those too, are filled with lyrics or writings. Aesthetically, cassettes did not look as appealing as LP albums, but their portability proved to make them popular enough not to replace LP, but proved to be popular for those who own cassette players and became a more modern look for music collectors.
CD’s would become the successor of cassettes tapes. Having a slow rise due to its different technology, it quickly dominated over cassettes and is still being used to this date. CD booklets offer the portability that cassettes had, but with the detail and freedom that LP albums had. Depending on the success of the band will often depend on the effort the booklet will go through. Contents can range from photography of the musicians or artwork depicting the concept of the music or gimmick that the album has to promote the music. As with its previous ancestors, the CD booklets tend to hold the official lyrics of the music as well as the credits for who was involved with the production. The booklets are usually stapled right down the middle and are printed back to back, having a glossy finish or a slightly rough texture. A secondary form of CD booklets and one that has become popular since the 2010’s, was a more plastic, folded form. The booklets would either be part of the case or remain the same, simply slid inside one of the pockets, where the actual music would also be placed.
With the rise of digital downloads, physical versions of music are becoming a dying trend. The only art that can be seen with music nowadays is the album cover, seen next to the name of the band when their song is played. However, CD’s aren’t doomed to disappear too easily. It is still the main form of physical distribution and just like LP albums, people would collect them and stash them in their shelves, displaying their musical collection, mainly for looks, while the actual music is stored in their computers or other listening devices. This would mean that efforts to make an actual booklet will be slim, becoming much more simplified or completely absent from an album.
By Roisan Rubio
Let’s take a quiz before we begin.
In each set of images posted below, which is an example of scrapbooking and which is an example of an artists book?
In each of the above examples, the image of an artists book is on the left and the scrapbook image is on the right. The artists books images are all from Vamp and Tramp. The examples of scrapbooking were found in a Google search of scrapbooking images. Obviously, the examples were deliberately chosen to blur the line between the two categories.
To my mind, this is a classic example of an artists book, any of the works by Julie Chen.
Again to my mind, this is a classic example of a scrapbooking project, an image found on the Intertubes.
There isn’t much discussion, if any, to be found in books or on the Intertubes regarding the intersection of scrapbooking and artists books. In any case, I haven’t found it. So let’s begin the discussion here. It may be that artists book makers are so busy trying to define the term that they don’t have time for an interloper trying to wedge itself into the discussion. It could also be that artists book makers are so dismissive of scrapbookers that the idea of discussing the similarities is beneath them. There a caste system in the world of art and the world of craft.
Art, with a capital “A” has no clear definition. Some like to refer to high art and low art. At the top are artists whose work sells for millions, if not hundred of millions, of dollars. At the bottom is the “art” produced by kids and posted by parents on the refrigerator door. Somewhere in between is art produced by art students, folk art, primitive art, auteurs, and semi-professional artists with or without formal art training.
This discussion will not include the merits of the above classifications of art. I doubt there will ever be agreement on “What is Art?” Artists books and the books arts are relatively new fields in the spectrum of art. They have long be classified as crafts but some artists book makers like to think of their work as art, not craft. Bookmaking has long been called a craft and some in the field are trying to wedge artists books into the field of art, not craft (although it may be both).
While almost everyone can agree on the definition of a scrapbook, there is still wide disagreement on what is or isn’t an artist book. There is still no formal definition of an artists book that pleases everyone—from those who create artists books to those who curate or buy it. Librarians wonder whether an artists book is a book or a work of art. Some argue that it is both, but some artists books stretch the definition of what most would call a book. In 1998, there was a long discussion (185 email threads) on the Book_Arts-L listserv about the definition of an artists book. At the end, there was no agreement.
Enter scrapbooking. Some artists call scrapbooking a hobby or craft. Wikipedia states that “scrapbooking is a method for preserving personal and family history in the form of a scrapbook. Typical memorabilia include photographs, printed media, and artwork. Scrapbook albums are often decorated and frequently contain extensive journaling.” This description could easily be part of an artist’s statement for an artists book.
The line between artists books and scrapbooking can be blurred, depending on an individual’s preferences and creativity. There are simply no fixed rules about can or can’t be done when making an artists book or when scrapbooking. Scrapbooking is the “creative art of taking books with blank pages and adding photos, memorabilia, journaling, and embellishments.” The “primary purpose of scrapbooking is to preserve memories for future generations.” Someone can create art or visuals in an artists book or via scrapbooking. Anything and everything goes: text, printing, painting, drawing, pen and ink, doodling, stamping, photos, and collage can be used in either medium.
Artists books move beyond the traditional book and scrapbooking moves beyond the traditional photo album. But is there an intersection? When does a scrapbook project move into the territory of artists book and vice versa? Is it just a label that is placed on the piece by the maker? Is an artists book made by someone who doesn’t consider themselves to be an artist—a piece of art or truly an artists book? Formally trained artists tend to denounce scrapbooking as a hobby performed by bored women (it seems to be mostly women, but a male can occasionally be seen the scrapbooking aisle at Michael’s.
Does it come down to restraint? Some artists are dismissive of scrapbooking because its makers are not trained in art and because many scrapbookers do not know when to stop with the embellishments. There is a lot of kitsch associate with scrapbooking. So, when does a scrapbook project move into the realm of artist book? When does an artists book become so kitschy that is moves into the realm of scrapbooking?
I have always avoided the scrapbook aisle when I am in a store like Michael’s. But I recently decided that I will start perusing those aisles—not because I suddenly became a scrapbooker or a devotee of the craft—but because I believe all those 12” x 12” decorative papers would be great as end sheets for handmade books.
Book_Arts-L listserv, 1998. Definition of the Artists Book (Yes, Again).
Julie Chen website: http://www.flyingfishpress.com/
Scrapbooking entry in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrapbooking
Art Journaling vs Scrapbooking: keepinganartjournal/a/art_journaling.htm