B..Bam B..BAM!

VIP please noteI don’t mean the ‘B..B..BAM’ logo to overtake the word ‘artists book’, I think it’d be a good rallying call, like an invigorating ‘quality’ hallmark symbol to use on any publicity material. The ‘pop-art’ similarity is about that stimulating bounce that comes with the onomatopoeia. Pete

I do not wish to ruffle any feathers but I feel the term ‘Artist’s Books’ is a bit misleading. I believe that to attract a wider spectrum of people in to Artists’ Books markets with a view to buy the books  we make, rather than merely view them, there is a need for a more catchy symbol on publicity material, a signifier which is less bewildering, more informative and more inviting, more exciting, maybe:

a b b bam

I believe the term ‘Artist’s books’ can be misunderstood by anyone who is unaware of the beauty that lies within (the field). I’m not being silly nor am I joking. Some people I know who happen to be very bright-intelligent and who get about a bit have been fascinated to see what ‘artist’s books’ are composed of/can be. But, just think of the first timer who comes across a poster which talks about “An Artists’ Book” event. Those uninitiated might be put off, believing that this event is only for ‘artists’ and they are not that, it can be intimidating. I believe after my recent participation at English Artists’ Books Markets in Oxford, Bristol and now Gateshead there is a lot of (simple) work to be done to increase members of the public willing & eager to put their feet over the threshold into the ‘market-place’.

I am going to suggest maybe the slant be changed from ‘Artists Books’ to something like, ‘Books by Artist MakersB..BAM! Let’s think about it? Let’s talk about it? Let me know if you think it’s a good idea. We need something to get folks over the threshold, especially in England where the pinch of the recession still bites the majority and is going to worsen in the next five years as government squeeze the less well off. Books by Artist Makers take a lot of thought and a whole lot of making. They are works of art in themselves which often take longer to create than a painting. Indeed some have several ‘prints’ in as part of their beauty. People may buy a framed print for say £50 (I know that’s cheap, but it’s just a figure to play with, to try to make a point), but would the same folks buy Books by Artist Makers with say 3-6 prints in for £50?

Here’s a quickly sketched onomatopoeia for Books by Artist Makers a b b bam

Cowboy Pete, cowboy pete fingers gunsBukman Artist-Maker

(Hooray, total ‘visits’ to my blog since it began tipped over the 7500 mark today).

Below I have added some comments which came in since I posted this blog about artists books (artisbuks) and the gap between their beauty and the public’s not ‘getting’ what they are. Please add your thoughts if you have any which say things not already said by those who added comments.

seems like we are touching a chord, thanks to yez. Here’s some replies already:

“I think that’s a great idea Pete. To me ‘Artist’s Books’ conjures up an image of books containing illustrations of their artwork or writing, with brief notes or explanations. As opposed to a complete work that you would admire as much as a photograph or painting hanging on a wall. I would never expect the book to be hand-made.” (Maxine, a ‘normal’ non-artist person.)

“Pete, I think you’re right a LOT of people do not understand Artist made books, and I do like your idea BUT how to get other people on board ? I know this is something we as a group at ArtBookArt are thinking about when advertising our event how do we get the concept across to those who think our exhibition may be books about rather than made by artists?

Yes the cost of an artist’s book versus a painting or a print, its partly to do with global forces, people can buy a book (any book) much cheaper and most people do not have the awareness of time taken + cost of materials. However in the right place and with the right buyers it is a different story. Perhaps venue and place is an important consideration in the selling and understanding of artist made books, and when trying to reach people who have never heard about them perhaps there has to be a different approach, a more educational one with some work-shops on simple book structures.” Gwen, (Artist’s Book Maker).

“You make a good point there Pete.

BookArt is a confusing term and it also hides a lot of mediocre stuff as well, just to do something in a book theme is not necessarily good art, it attracts all different sorts and some are not artists but craft people.

To me, for it to be good art, the book form has to be relevant to the art work, it has to enhance/emphasise the artistic thrust of the work. For instance your Venus Stairs book is a story of a work being created, over time and thought, into a an artwork.  Also, using the structure of a book and distorting it to jolt or draw out another perspective, such as using folding lead sheets, is another good way. Also, the attraction and power of using literature/poetry/drama/knowledge communicated in words, as another material to incorporate into the artist’s ‘palette’ is very powerful. There could be an interesting search and analysis on how artists have used words/books in their works over time.

So, anything to help explain that these works are art works based on a book form could be useful.

Maybe it could help shake out the different type of players under the ArtistBook banner from fine bookmakers, crafts people, illustrators, printers, poets/writers, to artists. There will be a lot of resistance to change the term from the established ArtistBook fraternity. But from an artist’s point of view I guess there would be a lot of agreement.

I like the pop-art shout. I have another one, WaBiAW!   Words and Books in ArtWorks!

It’s really all about the emphasis and priority, as to what comes first the book or the artwork.” Duncan (Mod from Twisted Wheel 1960’s days.)

“…The name change might work as well and I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, but I don’t think that on it’s own it will make a huge difference. But B.B.Bam is a cool idea and I love the graphic. The battle I think is to change the way people think of artists’ books by having more book markets and making them as accessible and welcoming as possible. Keep making books though Pete, and entertaining us with your wonderful performances.” Gary Malkin, Book Archivist BALTIC

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