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Artists' Books Part 1

Updated: May 6, 2020

During the first half of the semester in an artists books class I am taking, we are required to make one zine and one ‘simply bound’ book. In my previous post, I talked about learning the Photoshop ropes and using digital collage to create a ‘mix and match’ zine. While I had posted photos of the collages, I didn’t post the actual zine! In this post (and the next), I’ll add a few photos showing the evolution of the collages leading to the final zine and 'simply bound' book.

To create the collages, I used images taken from the internet. Most were derived from old books and magazines, vintage postcards, greeting cards, vintage packaging, or royalty free image sites. I was amazed at what's out there, and I definitely had moments where I got carried away finding images to collect! While I continued using Photoshop to experiment with digital collage and transformations, I also wanted to use a range of paper cutting and folding techniques. I did a few experiments with digital collage to develop ideas, and drew on inspiration from a few sources. For my zine, I decided to go with a surreal theme and create strange, transformative landscapes and hybrid forms. I collect vintage children’s books, and was inspired by a 1973 picture book by Graeme Oakley, ‘Magical Changes’. Oakley’s paintings are amusing and odd to begin with, but all pages are sliced horizontally in half allowing the viewer to ‘mix and match’ the paintings (I later discovered that is in fact called a ‘mix and match’ book.

After some further research, I discovered that the surrealists had invented a game called ‘The Exquisite Corpse’ that had similar characteristics. The players of the game would fold a piece of paper into equal parts; for each section of the ‘corpse’ they were drawing, the paper would be folded so as not to reveal what the previous player had drawn. When the final player finished the drawing, they would unfold it to reveal the entirety of the ‘corpse’. Here are a few examples from Jake Chapman's and Dino Chapman's version of the 'Exquisite Corpse' (2000) taken from The Tate.

While the zine wasn’t constructed in this way (I cut rather than folded sections), I decided to create little ‘corpses’ of my own with background landscapes that also matched when combined. Here are a few stages of its evolution to the finished zine.

I first started by creating a background where the 'corpses' would float in front. After printing, I realised that my first task was to clean the printer head. Stripy is not such a good look!

Then I printed in colour, just to see how neatly the top and bottom pages came together.

I then started adding figures, such as the ones below, but realised I had to make a few adjustments as some images didn't fit well together at all!

After a bit more playing around - and using the rulers on Photoshop as a guide - I came up with some strange and absurd figures that seemed to work well together. It took a while to get them to align neatly, and depending on the printer I use, they sometimes don't quite match exactly.

The laser printer also printed brighter and richer colours than the ink jet.

You may see a few windows that have been cut out in the above pages. That's because they are windows! I decided it wasn't quite enough to just have weird and wonderful mix and match pages, but to add to the absurdity, I created a map to determine where I could have little faces appear. When you open the windows, these faces appear to respond to what's occurring around them. Here are a few tests in black and white......

...and the a few examples in colour.

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