A postcard on the table at the entrance to the Vienna Art Book Fair #1 reads “It’s an artists’ book if an artist made it or if an artist says it is.” As good a definition as any really, telling you everything and nothing at all…ironically mocking this infamously hard to define art form.
To me, artist books are single-handedly the best and most underrated source of inspiration for any form of print media design. Through their highly intentional and sophisticated approach to (and seamless marriage of) concept, paper, print, finishing, typography and design, they challenge and push the boundaries (envelope!?) of everything you had ever imagined was possible.
I’ve always felt that your creation isn’t worthwhile if your printer doesn’t look at your idea initially and say, “this is impossible.” And basically, an artist book fair is a room full of people who share that view. These are precisely the artists, designers, thinkers, writers, printers, and publishers who take what’s seemingly impossible and say, cool, let’s try it.
Think complex folds that tell a story, strategically placed holes playing hide and seek, layers upon layers that lure you in…the words “art” or “design” don’t even seem appropriate, some pieces are purely architectural. And I’m not even getting into the content. Whether its poetic, abstract, personal, political or comical…its always clear that a lot of thinking went into the process.
Needless to say, when I discovered that my dear friend and exceptional book artist Ximena Perez Grobet was exhibiting at the first ever Vienna Art Book Fair (in one of my favourite cities!)…it only took me a matter of minutes to book my flight. Below are some of photos I took…they’re hardly representative as I was clearly busy and overwhelmed enough taking it all in without the lens…but I do genuinely hope they’ll inspire you to look up the next artist book fair near you, and I without reservations, not only recommend, but urge you, to go.