I’m not an aspiring artist, only a hobbyist. In terms of arts and crafts, I’m most well-known for my modular origami and – to the shock of many – book art.
What is book art? This isn’t a new art form, but is certainly a very controversial one. ‘Book art’ is made from books, as the name suggests. But what the name does not tell us is that it involves the folding, cutting, and tearing of the pages of the book.
Okay, does it really matter what medium an artist uses to create their work? The first ever book art I did was a refolding of the book “Superstition” by Karen Robards into a heart, which I foolishly uploaded to deviantART with the title “I heart books”. Bad idea. The number of comments and hate messages I received in the seven hours after the upload were unbelievable.
Popular artwork had begun to make an appearance, with contemporary artists now using recycled materials for their models. Don’t we all just love how creative Kyle Bean was, when he created a chicken from eggshells?
Chicken made from eggshells, by artist Kyle Bean
Book artists do the same thing: taking old books which would’ve otherwise gone to the landfill and turning it into art to be displayed for that much longer. We’re pretty much taking what can no longer be used and transforming it into something that everyone can appreciate, like an alchemist turning metal into gold.
Most people behave as if it’s murder to fold the pages of a book. The pages are folded. They’re not carved. Now that really is destruction. So what? Some people show they love books by reading them while wearing gloves so they don’t get their grubby fingerprints on it. Or just leave it on the shelves to gather dust. Others do so by making good use of a no longer useful book.
“Pretend you’re this book who suffered in agonizing pain while someone pays no attention to how you feel and just kept folding your pages while you scream for the pain to end.”
Please. Books don’t have feelings. You can’t say, “Poor book” or “I feel so angry/disappointed/sad/insert-your-own-emotion-here when someone does this to a book”. Books were never living. The book never died. By the rules which define a living organism, books are non-living. It never had life. It never had feelings.
Book art by Isaac Salazar
Now, the pages from which the books were made from – that’s a different story altogether. The pages were made from trees, which once were alive. Pretend you’re this tree who stood in this forest for decades and then a group of lumberjacks with chainsaws cut down all the trees around you. You know you’re next. No one cares enough to stop them lumberjacks who hack at your base until finally you fall. This dead tree was used to make the timber of the houses in which we live. The furniture of which we use. The paper on which we write. You have hurt so many more trees than anyone has hurt books.
Unfortunately, for those of you interested in trying book art, there are no instructions for it. It’s pure creativity. (Or a lot of staring at Google Images.) Creativity is not as common as you think – the multitudes of narrow-minded people are testament to this. I recommend starting with a medium sized paper-back, about 300 pages.
Featured image book art by Eva Lok