Art Within The Pages: 5 Artists On Making Art Out Of Books

Books are beautiful things. That’s no secret to book lovers like you and I. However, a growing community of artists is doing something that uncovers a whole new layer of book beauty. They are using books as a medium, creating a wide range of extraordinary and astonishing works of art from the pages of old or discarded books. Each of the following five videos features the artwork and words of these talented literary artists.


1. Guy Laramée

Canadian artist, Guy Laramée, turns vintage books into exquisite landscapes. As he carves away portions of each book, revealing hidden beauty not in the words, but in the pages themselves, Laramée artistically expresses his dissatisfaction with an increasingly information driven age. To those who might feel that the sacred nature of books makes such destruction offensive, Laramée says that he is making the books “even more sacred.” And indeed, as we look upon the breathtaking detail of his paper landscapes, it is hard to disagree.

YouTube Channel: CBS

2. Brian Dettmer

Brian Dettmer thinks of the work he does with books as a remix, in the same sense that a DJ might create a musical remix of another artist’s songs. “I’m not moving or adding anything,” he says in this 2014 TED talk. “I’m just carving around whatever I find interesting. So everything you see within the finished piece is exactly where it was in the book before I began.” Dettmer’s sculptures dig into each book and bring out certain words and images, at once revealing what was already present and giving it new meaning and a new way to connect with its audience.

YouTube Channel: TED

3. Mike Stilkey

Unlike Laramée and Dettmer, Los Angeles native Mike Stilkey doesn’t carve into books to create his masterpieces. He paints on them. His creations can require thousands of recycled books carefully organized by size and meticulously stacked and held together with screws. Once in place, Stilkey paints over the spines of the books, creating poignant caricatures that he says are rarely planned.

“You make mistakes and then you have to paint off of your mistake and it becomes a lot more organic that way,” he explains.

YouTube Channel: Hurley

4. Su Blackwell

Su Blackwell, an English artist, offers another kind of book sculpture—one that uses the pages of a book to retell the story. Her pieces bring storybooks to life, including one of her personal childhood favorites, Alice in Wonderland. Blackwell had this to say about working with books as a medium:

“Working with paper continues to fascinate me. Every paper has a different quality and reacts to the hand in a different way. I like the fragility of the paper, but also the strength.”

That duality is echoed in her delicate, yet compelling sculptures.

YouTube Channel: DW (English)

5. Jeremy May

What Jeremy May does with books is sure to be an instant favorite with all the book loving ladies out there. He uses them to create unique, handcrafted jewelry out of people’s favorite page-turners. Through a lengthy process that includes designing the piece, painstakingly cutting out the shape from each page, and then laminating the paper in a process that turns it into a wood-like substance, May creates rings, necklaces, and bracelets that are each a work of art in their own right. May reminds us to see beauty in simplicity when he says:

“My motivation, I think, is to create beautiful things.”

Which stunning book artwork would you love to add to your home?

YouTube Channel: DW (English)



Featured image via Wikipedia

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