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What is an artist book?

The answers are as prolific as the books themselves

A work of art in the form of a book

A sculpture

three dimensional

usually very portable

A piece of art that can be handled

A work by an artist in a structure that includes


that are bound, folded or arranged together,

usually within a binding, covers or a container

Any work in a book format made by an artist;

content may include

drawings, prints, paper cuts, digital art, text, poetry, story telling, illustration, laser cuts, textiles, stitch, painting, photographs …

A unique fusion of ideas, designs and imaginings

conceived and made by an artist

A dialogue between form and content

A playful, interactive and handleable exploration of an idea

A visual methodology

An artist at play with their medium

A rhythmic vessel of


An artwork that is often intimate in scale,

but monumental in impact

An artwork that invites participation:


an interplay between the viewer and the book

which creates an intimacy that isn’t found in other art forms

There is no definitive description

as by its very nature

an artist book is an elusive art form

What is an artist book?

How to display an artist book

There are many different ways to display an artist book. Here are a few suggestions from members of the Artist Book Group:

An artist book can be a private treasure, one that may be hidden in a drawer or tucked away on a shelf, to be taken out and perused from time to time. Or it might be treated like a sculpture and presented on a shelf, desk or mantelpiece.

Displayed open on a window ledge to catch the light, or on a purpose built plinth, an artist book is a work of art to be enjoyed. It can be positioned in front of a mirror so you see the back and can appreciate better the 3D qualities. A collection of books can look good in a glass fronted cabinet or open fronted box.

An artist book invites us to display it differently from a conventional book that sits obediently, closed, on a shelf. It can open and close, but is also happy to tilt, turn, tumble: it can be hung from the ceiling. It perpetually renews and challenges our definition of what a book is and what an artist’s imagination can do with this format.

However it is displayed, it’s important that an artist book can be handled and enjoyed.

How do you display your artist books?
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