I love books about art including books about individual artists. But I wonder why they’re often the size of a coffee table and weigh as much as a Rottweiler. Why such dense prose in tiny fonts? So when making my own art books I go for a light-weight book design and few words.
Take my recent book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” for example. It’s 8.5 x 11 inches when closed. And it weighs about 5 ounces. There are 245 words total. And that includes the ISBN info.
You can read my book while holding it in the air above the dog (or cat) currently sleeping on your lap.
And I’m sure my long time fans will also recognize that in my art book titled “Coffee Table Book” that I played with my whole heavy-coffee-table-size book peeve by deliberately making an art book for smart-phones. More about that here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/coffee-table-book
Yours in being able to read a book about art without needing a hoist or crane.
Recently I posted a video of me un-boxing proof copies of “Dogs by Sue Clancy” https://sueclancy.com/2017/01/15/dogs-unboxed/ Overall I’m very pleased with the books printing, the binding and the way BookBaby https://www.bookbaby.com/ has done things. I’d used BookBaby to do my previous eBooks – so they weren’t un-known to me, and I knew they’d be good to work with. They are. And their book distribution system is worldwide…
Even so, in looking at my proof copies I realized there was a graphic-designer (me) error. The first page that you see upon opening the book is blank. Then you open it and on the left is the title page. The page to the right has the book info.
Not BookBaby’s fault at all. Totally mine. Some days are just like that.
But everything else other than the odd page order at the front is beautiful. So I showed copies of the book to my gallery owners – all are thrilled. (Whew!) And one said she loves the blank page at the front as she’ll be able to put a sticker/card with additional info right there. “Great sales tool!” she added about the book in general.
Since the galleries are happy I’ve decided the pages in the book “Dogs…” are staying as they are. I’ll just do better pagination for the next book.
In case you were wondering why I decided to do my newest book in such a mass-produced way in the first place. (This book is going to be available where ever books are sold in the world. Yes by Amazon.com…and also at independent bookstores) I decided to do it like this because I have fans and art collectors all over the world and Bookbaby’s distribution system for eBooks has been fantabulous – so I’m trusting that the same is true for the print books too!
The idea is that my gallery owners will be able to tell their clients – wherever in the world they are located – that “something new by Sue” is available via a familiar online source or even a bookstore near them. This book is also intended to help the galleries sell the very personal service I provide – creating a visual story that reflects the life of a person and their dog.
Beyond the fine art gallery scene I think of the book as a small attempt to share my “art as good mental health therapy” concept with people who may not know my artwork but may chance upon my book somehow. Maybe they’ll laugh and have a better day.
The original artwork at the gallery gets framed like this:
My artist book “Coffee Beans Plus H2o” is featured at the Abecedarian Gallery in Colorado! I’ve loved it that the gallery owner and some other artist’s who’ve commented privately have “gotten it” that in this book I was playing with a concept of time! I’d worried about whether that was getting across so I can’t tell you how much it feeds my artist soul to hear supportive “I understand this” comments from people – and from people in the book-arts-field too! Wahoo!! I’m happy dancing around my art studio today!! Thank you thank you everyone!!!
Coffee Beans Plus H2o by Sue Clancy – an artist book handmade with hand carved printing blocks and printmaking techniques applied on used coffee filters as a way of artistically exploring the concept of time.
Was contacted this morning by one of my gallery owners, Barney, of Downtown Art & Frame, in Oklahoma to tell me that my work “Lettuce Peas” had sold! This work was a highly experimental piece, different from the “typical” work I do. For this project I worked with Judy Sullens, a writer, and created this words+art piece inspired by and based on her word-play. Judy’s original poem was titled “Gardener’s Prayer”. I took Judy’s words and created an original cut-paper illustration in my style and wrote out her poem by hand using pen and ink calligraphy.
Technically this piece is an original “broadside” as it would be called in the book-arts world. And normally I might have submitted it for exhibit in a book-arts kind of gallery like the 23 Sandy Gallery. But, Barney, who runs a frame-shop-gallery in Oklahoma saw the piece in my studio here on the West Coast, liked it and wanted to frame it and exhibit it along with the other artwork of mine he was selecting for delivery to his gallery.
I do my best to keep my gallery-owners happy so I agreed. All the art he requested got shipped – including “Gardener’s Prayer”. He was happy. I was happy. Judy was happy. Then life went on.
When he told me today that the work had sold he also said of this piece “it’s a gem”. He talked of how much attention this particular piece had gotten, how the client who ended up buying it had come to ‘visit’ it multiple times before buying. He went on to say that he thought it might be a good idea for me to do more such things, maybe make a book of such poetic-artistic-meditations-on-daily-life.
So now I’m thinking about doing that. Over the many years I’ve worked with Barney he’s had a number of great suggestions for my art/career… so I take his suggestions seriously. And I think Judy will play poetry+art again with me … and I write poems sometimes myself… and I’m also flirting with thoughts of collecting some other poet/writers very short thoughts (ideally word-play) about some aspect of daily life.
My question is how to go about it? Must ruminate more on this topic… Please share your comment/thoughts too.
Anyway here is the “Gardener’s Prayer”:
Poem by Judy Sullens. Art (cut handmade paper) and Calligraphy by Sue Clancy.
I made my first ‘artist book’ when I was about 6 years old. I had become deaf when I was about 4 or 5. It happened in summer and my birthday is in the summer so was I still 4 years old when it happened, or had I turned 5? At any rate the world became silent. This was not a problem for me. It was just my normal life before I got my first set of hearing aids. I lived with my grandmother and life was good. Except for the brief times when I was taken to visit my biological parents. During the weekends at their house an angry yelling adult frequently appeared in my field of vision shouting “BE QUIET!”
This was a mystery to me. What did the phrase “be quiet” mean? I had already learned to read, write and draw. I already knew that the public library was a place full of wonderful magical books full of mysterious things that other people knew. Books were how people collected and kept what they learned and how they made it available for kids like me to see! (Wow!) So after a few weekends of two adults taking turns shouting “BE QUIET” I began my investigation.
I gathered several sheets of paper together and stapled them along one edge. I began to record, mostly in drawings, what I had just been doing when the “BE QUIET” message was delivered at the top of grownup lungs. Between these weekends I went with my grandmother to the library. There I asked a librarian how I would find out what the phrase “be quiet” meant and how someone did that ‘be quiet’ thing.
I don’t recall the exact encounter with the librarian, I mostly remember having a lot of trouble explaining what exactly it was that I wanted to learn. I remember eventually being introduced to the Dictionary and other books containing information about ears, hearing and sound. I wrote and drew, in fat-first-grade pencil, everything I learned into my stapled handmade book. When I was done, and back at home with grandmother again, I created a yellow colored construction paper cover for my book, glued one edge of the construction paper to the staples and titled it, in red crayon, “The Be Quietness Book”.
Long story short I had created my first entry into what, as an adult, I’ve learned is a genre within the Book Arts world: “Books that help you think about and make sense of your experience in the world”
As readers of my blog know I’m working on a pop-up book titled “A Fish Story”. Eventually (when the book is finished) I’ll submit it to the 23 Sandy Gallery – the gallery owner has asked for videos of our pop-up books because of the active movable parts – a juror needs to see it in…action. So I thought I’d better practice the whole “do a video of an artist book thing”. Here is a link to a youtube video of one my artist books titled “Coffee Beans Plus H2o” – used as a practice baby-step. Fair warning: there will be more practice “video-a-book” attempts in the future. Deep breath…here goes…
This coming weekend is the opening for “Wanderlust” a book arts exhibit at the 23 Sandy Gallery! I am lucky enough to have a unique artist book in this exhibit that has a lot of impressive book artist’s work in it! Here is a link to the online exhibit http://23sandy.com/works/product-category/current/wanderlust in case you can’t make it to Portland Oregon this weekend. You can also get more information about the exhibit and a copy of the exhibit catalog here: http://23sandy.com/works/wanderlust (I just love the paradoxical pun of being able to buy a limited edition book about an exhibit of artist books!)
This book is titled “Coffee Please? A dialect guide for the United States”. To create this book I’ve gone through all of my travel sketchbooks, kept as I traveled across the United States, noting, phonetically, the answers I got to my “Can I get some coffee please?” question.
Here is a picture of the “raw pages” in stages of production before “binding” as a book…
Pages from an artist book being created by Sue Clancy titled “Coffee Please? A dialect guide for the United States”