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Artists' Books: FAQs

Artists' books defined: artworks realized in the form of a book.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I search for Artists' Books in the library catalog?

A: Limit location to "Special Collections" and direct Advanced Keyword to (d:"artists books")

Likewise, limit location to "Special Collections" and direct Advanced Keyword to (d:"movable books") when searching for movables or pop-up books.

Q: Who uses the Artists' Books Collection?

A: It's no surprise that class visits from the School of Art, Design, and Art History's Book Arts, Photography, Arts Education, and Graphic Design are the most active. However, a wide variety of disciplines have utilized the collection including African, African American, and Diaspora Studies; Feminism & Rhetorics; Geometry; and Pulp Studies among others. There's literally something for everyone in this rich and varied resource.

Q: What are movable or pop-up books?

A: Movable books feature internal elements that move such as: pull tabs or slides, rotating volvelles that spin, or metamorphoses that dissolve or transform. Spilt pages, Turkish maps, flaps, and fold-outs are other movable elements while pop-up elements can be box or triangle cuts, V-folds, floating platforms, tabbed props, spirals, volumes, v-folds, etc. Book structures such as accordion, carousels, flip books, tunnels, and toys or games may be found in the movable books collections. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, a pop-up book is a sub-type of movable book. (Not all movable books have elements that pop-up.) For example, a book with a rotating volvelle or one with a pull tab slide certainly moves but does not pop when the page is turned or the book is opened.

Q: Can artists' books have movable or pop-up elements?

A: Yes, absolutely but a movable or pop-up book doesn't have to be an artists' book. In fact, for our purposes:

Special Collections' Movable Books Collection is separate from the Artists' Books Collection and distinguished by the following characteristics:

  • Commercially produced with large print runs and sometimes even multiple printings or editions
  • Most often printed on slick or glossy clay-coated papers 
  • Fabricated to withstand heavy use especially by children and rambunctious adults
  • Storage and handling requirements less stringent than artists' books

Q: What kind of printing methods are represented in the artists' books collection?

A: Dominant printing methods are: offset lithography, silkscreen, and letterpress. Digital printing, xerography, wood block printing, and linocut are among the other processes. Risographs are becoming more popular in the field. Stamping, stenciling, calligraphy, and high speed screen printing are also represented. There are also several photographic processes found in the collection.