open artist book with prints and threads

Handmade Artist Books: 12 Stunning Examples

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There’s something weird about handmade artist books. A cross between art and everyday object, it’s hard to know whether to pick one up and flip through it, or gaze at it from afar, hoping to not be yelled at for breathing on it too closely.

Many artists at some point tackle creating their own books. I was surprised to read that artist-created books didn’t really catch on until the 1960’s, with only a handful of artists dabbling in artist books from 1895 until then.

Without further ado, here are a whole slew of artist’s books to admire.

Artist Books

Artist book - moth by Catherine Cronin - handmade book in the shape of a moth with handmade box

This ‘Moth” concertina book blew me away for so many reasons: artist Catherine Cronin illustrated 3 different species of moths, adapted the illustrations to fit the shape and style of her book, then figured out how to fold it all in this extremely math-like way.

She sold them in her Etsy shop, but alas we are 7 years too late! Geez, I love the specimen box, the typeface, all of it.

Louise Bourgeois artist's book - fabric from pieces of textiles throughout her life - cover and 2 pages - Ode A L'Oubli
Handmade artist's book by Louise Bourgeois - fabric from pieces of textiles throughout her life - 3 pages - Ode A L'Oubli
Copyright© The Easton Foundation/VAGA at ARS, NY Image source: MOMA

Louise Bourgeois created this handmade book out of textile pieces gathered throughout her life. She made this book, entitled Ode à l’Oubli, in 2002, when she was 91 years old. It is at MOMA in NYC, but not on view currently.

Ode A L’Oubli translates to: Ode to Forgetting, and includes fabric from her past: embroidered napkins, scarves, etc. In 2004, an edition of 25 books was constructed to match the original.

artist's book - miniature sized by artist Evan Lorenzen - hand illustrated

Artist and illustrator Evan Lorenzen makes the coolest tiny books ever. His amazingly dry and wonderful sense of humor comes through in each handmade hand-illustrated book.

handmade artist's book made from paper, a seashell, and sewn binding

Lauren Bishop makes artist books as well as doing photography, and this shell book incorporates both. I feel like it would be the most satisfying thing ever to clomp closed.

2 spreads of handmade artist's book pages by artist Juanan Requena with old photos of trees and writing
2 spreads of handmade artist book pages by artist Juanan Requena

Juanan Requena’s handmade books are mysterious and deeply dreamy. Most of the pages are that aged yellowy-orange, with a personal little memory, photograph, or note lovingly affixed.

stitched and collagraphed artist's books by annwyn dean - 2 examples of her work with different styles and bindings
2 images of handmade artist books by Annwyn dean

Absolutely in awe of Annwyn Dean and her jaw-dropping artist’s books. Her background was in textiles, and she took up bookmaking after her retirement. Fittingly, each handmade book tells the tale of a different textile and its background.

encaustic wax on fabric with wire frames as artist book

Well, this book caught my eye. I’m a massive encaustic art fan. I find the medium beautiful, but also wildly conducive to all sorts of experimentation. Such is the case with this artist’s book, made by Wendy, an artist who happened to take an encaustic workshop and created this beautiful item.

This book bracelet by Lyske Gais and Lia Duinker is made from 1400 prints of Rembrandt hands sourced from the Rijksmuseum public domain images! The pair produced an edition of 10 bracelet books, complete with gilded edges and an index page.

Ha! Brilliant. The Sandwich Book, by Pawel Piotrowski is maybe one of the most clever things I’ve ever seen. That lettuce paper.

More About Handmade Artist Books

Okay, here’s something cool. If you are into making artist’s books, or want to dabble a bit, there is a printshop and studio in Seattle that hosts a monthly artist’s book challenge – complete with hashtags and Instagram and fellow art book makers and it looks wonderful!

Browse their #areyoubookenough hashtag on Instagram to get an eyeful of some of the participant books.

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