Artists Books

Writing in Progress

Deborah Small 
Spring 2015
Wednesday 5:00-8:45 pm
 ARTS 239
Office Hours: Tues 2:30-5:00, and by appointment
Telephone: 760-750-4151

Deborah Small
Course Description: 
A primary goal of the Artists’ Books class is to foster experimentation for radical new uses of the book format and to explore the interchange between the physical/analog and digital versions of your work.

In this class, we will explore the role of narrative and the book in our digital zeitgeist. What is narrative—textual or visual, monologue or double discourse, traditional or post-modern, linear or non-linear, oral or written, erased or effaced, appropriated or original, remixed or recycled, altered or altared.

We will explore the differences between written narratives and visual narratives, word as image (in the beginning was the WORD, in Western culture). We will experiment with typography’s relationship to writing, writing on the body, what constitutes a book page, books manifested as large-scale sculpture, sculpture manifested as books, books as electronic projections, the walk-in book, books as wall paintings (think Lascaux), books as diptychs, tryptychs, polyptychs, books as lists, journals, diaries, or scraps.

Perhaps we will also explore histories of censored books and book burnings. Perhaps we will burn books . . .

Artists’ books, both as physical objects and as digital versions on the web or projections on the wall, are ideal vehicles for our artwork and writing. As physical objects, artist’s books often have strong sculptural presences, using three-dimensional space to create their own environment.

Artist’s books engage readers/viewers in a comprehensive and often immersive experience that goes beyond reading the text and gazing at the images because of the physical, tactile quality of the book itself as an object. For our artist’s books, we will experiment combining digital imaging and hands-on traditional techniques, including collage and transfer printing as well as the use of various kinds of paper and transformations of paper.

Adobe InDesign is a sophisticated and powerful design and production tool that seamlessly integrates with other graphics software such as Photoshop and Illustrator that we use in our computer labs. Using InDesign, we will be able to produce professional-quality, full-color and/or black-and-white books for printing, as well as for publishing versions on the web as PDF files (or HTML files).

In the class, we will work to develop new levels of sophistication in digital imaging. Producing artist books offers extensive opportunities to explore ways to combine writing and art in a compelling manner. Adobe InDesign’s PDF function will allow us to communicate with a broader audience than is possible with printed books. The class will explore the paradigm shift in communication media from the hard copy/book to electronic media and the intersection/tension between the preciousness of a one-of-a-kind or limited edition books vs. the electronic versions of the same book available to anyone with internet access and a computer.

There are huge constraints in book publishing because of the costs of color printing. We will explore this new wave of publishing made possible by digital technologies. InDesign will allow us to produce our work in multiple formats: copies of our artist books in color, multiple copies, limited editions in black and white, and/or interactive color productions for the web. The interchange between these two formats—analog/physical and digital/pdf— will help us to imagine new forms of linear as well as non-linear narrative and storytelling and new structures for the book.

We will write and edit, or i should say blog, text, stories, poetry, and/or narratives individually and in collaboration with each other. We will examine the profound technological changes affecting our imaginations and our lives, and consider the creative, technical, and social consequences of using new media technologies.

In the last 35 years many book arts centers have opened across the county; The Center for the Book (New York), The Minnesota Center for Book Arts (Minneapolis), Iowa Center for the Book (Iowa City), San Francisco Center for the Book (San Francisco), Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts, Pyramid Atlanta (Washington, D.C.) to name a few. The Artist Books class will allow CSUSM to join other institutions in fostering the creation of artist’s books.

Required Texts:
Online subscription to $10/month for 2 months: total = @$20 will allow you access to 5 software programs for the class
A journal/sketchbook you will bring to class each week.

Storage: PURCHASE A HARDDRIVE, OR, CHECK OUT A HARD DRIVE from check-out in Arts 239

SUPPLIES in an Artists Books box: start assembling an altered book toolbox: we’ll discuss this further
a book to alter
exacto knife and blades
a good pair of scissors
straight edge ruler
glue stick (archival)
 . . .

Equipment Check-out
Still and viideo cameras, tripods, and portable external hard drives can be checked out from ARTS 239. We will spend the third week working with the cameras to familiarize you with them, but you must also spend time with the manuals. Check-out times and rules are posted on the door to ARTS 239. Albert Rascon will be visiting us the second week of class to talk about check-out procedures.

Lab Access
Arts 239 is open so you can do your homework assignments. Hours are posted on the door. I will also send everyone’s name to public safety, and you can call using the phone outside the lab and they will come to let you in. Labs are open 24/7.

Student Learning Outcomes
1Learn the language:
a) of digital media, focusing on Adobe Indesign, Photoshop, and scanning software through classroom lectures and use of online tutorials at

b) of the history and principles of contemporary artist’s book-making through lectures, web research, field trip to a book art special collections, museum and gallery visits,and guest lecturers.

2. Use the Language/Making Work:
Using primarily on Adobe InDesign CC, as well as Adobe Photoshop CC, and Illustrator CC, as well as hands-ons techniques that you will learn, you will complete the following projects:

1. Sketchbook/Journal
Must include digital/printed materials, found texts, objects-real or scanned, etc. Composites can assembled in InDesign and Photoshop, as well as Illustrator, then incorporated into your sketchbook: these projects are testing grounds and experiments for your book: make use of textures, fonts, borders, doodles, lists, and images. These experimental pages will be uploaded to your blog will also be scanned or photographed and posted on your blog.

You will work in your journal/sketchbook on a weekly basis, and these sketches and journal entries are part of your weekly assignments.

2. Book as Altered Book Pages Project

3. Book of Transformations: Artist as Alchemist
An @ 40 page book project to be printed at Cost is $35-55, depending on format size. We will be exploring the magazine size as well, which may be less expensive.
This will be your major work for the semester. LAYOUT SHOULD BE DONE IN ADOBE INDESIGN, NOT BLURB.
You will export your project from InDesign to Blurb, and use a Blurb plug-in in InDesign.
You will write a one-two page Book Proposal.

4. Blog:
You will use your blog site/electronic portfolio, for all thoughts, ideas, research, etc, on your project. This is the place for you to develop your ideas and your narrative, throughout the semester. All class experiments, experimental page pieces, your altered book (photo), and several book spreads from your final book project should be uploaded to your blog.

1. Attendance: Part of your final evaluation will focus on your ability to respond thoughtfully to other students’ artwork and your ability to work collaboratively with each other. For this reason, it is essential that you attend class regularly. I will take ATTENDANCE at the beginning and at the end of each class. More than two absences will result in the lowering of your grade. Class attendance and participation for the entire class period is mandatory.

2. Art Events:
You will look closely at THREE online book artists / graphic designers, study their work, and write on your blog about their work in relation to your own: what inspires you about the work, what repels you, etc. LENGTH should be the equivalent of a page, or approximately 250 words. You will also use your blog site to write focused freewrites after class presentations, films, etc..

3. Writing
Your writing requirement will be fulfilled by your personal Blog site. In class, we will discuss how to incorporate narratives, texts, lists, dialogues, descriptions, etc, that will be a part of your book. Every week, we will view at least some of your blogs.

4. Projects:
Demonstration of technical and theoretical knowledge using digital media in conjunction with experimental hands-on techniques. Each week, you will be assigned specific chapters from to review as homework.

5. Class Participation in Discussions:
This course is conducted as a workshop: all students will be asked to participate actively and consistently. Much of the class will be devoted to the development and discussion of your projects. I’m interested in your creativity and your innovative approach to the assignments. . .

25% Journal/Sketchbook
10% Altered Book
25% Final Printed Book at Blurb
25% Blog, including writings about THREE online artists as well as responses to class presentations and your experiments
15% Participation

Randall Hasson journals
The Baron Journals, Randall Hasson, at Blurb


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