Bookarts Goals: my checklist for evaluating creative projects

For your creative and curatorial endeavours


Art is SO subjective. What you like I may not and vice-versa. And yet, we have established rules (more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules) that help us evaluate what's good in painting, in the culinary arts, and in commercial book design. What's tricky, is when you're trying to create or curate a project in a medium that is less widely discussed. 

Penrose Press is structured in such a way that I straddle the river between fine art printmaking and publishing, art and business, empathy and math, ideas and execution. And as a bookartist, I buck the norm by collaborating with living writers, by soliciting submissions instead of taking comissions. None of the guidelines perfectly apply to me... so I've created my own.

You may be surprised to learn that

These elements didn't make the list:

  • the book must be made with only the best quality ink and paper
  • the book must be perfectly executed according to plan
  • the book is bound with traditional hardcover techniques and laborious leather tooling.

These were some of the things I thought might be important when I started learning about bookarts. Now I strongly believe that they are less important (if not completely irrelevant) than the items on my checklist.

For example: I strongly believe that mistakes, revisions, and acomodations are one of the most interesting elements of a handmade book. And, I believe in accessible art. You don't need leather or hardcover to make a book wonderful; these things just make it more expensive.

While we're thinking about bookarts and expanding our horizons, I want to share with you an artists book definition by Faith Hale that blew things wide open for me:

"An artists book is anything an artist tells you is a book."

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