MaiNichi Mushroom Issue #2 Update: Casting Shiitake Sensei.

Work progresses on MaiNichi Mushroom Magazine. I’d hoped to have Issue 2 ready before now but got stuck with details about taxonomy. How much detail to include? How much to leave out? How to make it interesting? I’m not sure if I succeeded but Issue 2 is almost ready to go.

“The Great Mushroom Detective: The Case of the Golden Mushroom” continues to be a lot of fun to write. I outlined the whole story but now I’m reconsidering the ending. You’ll see why later in this article. I have 10 more issues to go so no critical choices to make yet.

The second biggest challenge for Issue 2 was casting Shiitake Sensei for “The Great Mushroom Detective: The Case of the Golden Mushroom.” When I was writing the story, I imagined Shiitake Sensei’s character but not his appearance. I toyed with the idea of Shiitake Sensei as an owl, it didn’t seem to fit. I like the sketch but… something’s not right. I suppose it’s too cliche to have an owl teacher, plus owls don’t eat mushrooms.  A quick search about animals that eat mushrooms lead me to ants, mice, some birds, slugs, deer, hedgehogs and badgers.


So I made some random sketches— in effect casting Shiitake Sensei. Some research revealed that hedgehogs are not native to Japan, but badgers are! I originally dismissed the badger because I mixed it up with tanuki  (racoon dog). In Japanese folklore tank are shape-changing tricksters. And that choice also seemed a bit cliche. Then I learned that badgers (anaguma or mujina) are often mixed up with tanuki, even by Japanese people.

I love this badger! The badger has this kind of slumbering gravitas that I imagined when I created Shiitake Sensei.

The hedgehog was a surprise for me. I think he’s hilarious. This sketch is making me rethink my story so I can cast the hedgehog as the villain.

So with these decisions made and one last sketch to go, Issue 2 is coming to a close. Here’s hoping that the subsequent issues move along a lot faster.

If you’re interested in MaiNichi Mushroom, you can learn a little bit more about it here. I’m hoping to have 12 issues ready for Tokyo Art Book Fair 2016.

Tokyo Art Book Fair 2015: Q & A with Marc Tibbs

Name: Marc Tibbs
From: San Diego, California
Time in Japan: 3 years
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts

marc-tibbs-3-by-thirteen-booksHow long have you been making books?
I took a book binding course my senior year college in 2011 and have been making book ever since.

What is the biggest challenge for you when you make a book?
The hardest part of making a book for me is sticking to the original theme and making a cohesive story.

What kind of books are you making for this fair?
The books I made for this year’s fair is the product of 39 days of drawing and writing.

Time and Location Details
The Tokyo Art Book Fair is held from September Saturday 19 – Monday 21 (holiday)
at Kyoto University of Art and Design, Tohoku University of Art and Design GAIEN CAMPUS
Marc and Art Byte Critique Members are on the 2nd floor booth G-11
1-7-15 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Saturday: 3-9
Sunday: 12-8
Monday: 11-7

Stab Bindings and Book Preparation for Tokyo Art Book Fair 2015

I’m producing way less of each type of book this year and trying out different types of books. One of my inspirations is fellow Art Byte Critique artist Marie Wintzer. Her handmade books are unique works of whimsical art. You can see her work at her site The Bookworm’s Lunch.


 I printed a bunch of signatures (the contents of the book) for an series of amusement park photos.  Then… what to do, what to do? I decided on a stab binding rather than simply folding and sewing. But I wanted something a little more visually interesting than the basic stab.

The blog Becca Making Faces has an amazing variety of stab bindings. Go check it out. You will be amazed. She also generously posted some tutorials. But a lot of those were too complicated. I’m starting to feel the time crunch.

I decided on a hemp-leaf pattern for the stab binding. So I found another good tutorial at which for some reason I couldn’t follow. It’s me not the tutorial. But it gave me a great basis to start from.

Basically a stab binding is like that game of connecting all the holes without going over the same line twice. You can go in the same hole more than once, but not the same path. My way of thinking on it became, do one half of the path in one direction and finish the path on the way back. Finish around the same hole you started in.

Maybe someday I will experiment with more patterns like Becca Making Faces but for now, I’m going to settle on this. It’s not a full hemp-leaf pattern. When I figured out how to get that done, it was too busy. The solution would be to use fewer holes but I like the way this looks.

Goal number two is to use this book making as an opportunity to do some stash-busting. I’ve been saving paper and boards and random things.

When searching for a stab-binding tutorial I found this one at Coloresque for making a stab binding with a hard cover. Since I have all the materials I thought I’d give it a go.

You can see how that experiment went on my next post.

The Tokyo Art Book Fair is held from September Saturday 19 – Monday 21 (holiday) at Kyoto University of Art and Design, Tohoku University of Art and Design GAIEN CAMPUS 1-7-15 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014: Interview with Book Artist Young-ju Choi

Make a Guess
Make a Guess

I have another Tokyo Art Book Fair interview from Korean book artist Young-ju Choi. I purchased one of her books, Make a Guiess. It is a lovely type or riddle book using different textures and cut-outs which interact with the pages underneath. Young-ju kindly took the time to correspond with me via e-mail.

Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where are you from? Did you study art at school or are you self-taught?
I am from Korea. My major was Graphic design in Korea and I received my MA in Book Arts in London.

How long have you been making books?
I have been making books for over ten years since I graduated my MA .

What kind of books do you make?
I prefer making structured books suiting my idea rather than zine type.

What are two things you want people to know about your work?
What I want is only one thing. I hope that people read my books closely, turning page by page.

Is this your first time at TABF (Tokyo Art Book Fair)?
Yes, it is my first time.

Why did you come to the TABF?
I have never taken part in the TABF before.

One of my friends, who I had met in London, mentioned about this Book fair. I wondered about the TABF. 

How was this book fair for you?
Actually I was in a rush to come Tokyo because I didn’t have a plan to take a part the TABF. I regret that I didn’t prepare enough.

I didn’t have time to look around at other tables because I was taking care of my table by myself. But it was wonderful experience. I hope to come again.

Personal Note: I’ve really enjoyed looking at Take a Guess. It’s a beautifully constructed book.

The Days After the Art Book (af)Fair. Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014 Review

The 2014 Tokyo Art Book Fair (TABF) has come and gone. It took a lot of work to get ready for it, and it was an intense three days but I enjoyed all of it. Now I just have to sort through the leftovers in n my studio from my book making frenzy.

20140925-000242-162096.jpgA big thank you to every one who visited the Art Byte Critique Group table (H-05), we enjoyed talking to everyone who stopped by. Special thanks to those who purchased some of our work. We ‘re thrilled because we know that there were so many wonderful choices available to you.

To the other TABF contributers and Zinesmate staff, thanks for the community feeling and your hard work. I thought everything ran really smoothly and every contributer ‘s work looked amazing. It was fun to be counted amongst you.

Finally, Art Byte Critique Group, thanks for making the process so efficient and fun. I’m lucky to be a part of this group. It’s inspiring to see what members are up to and the feedback you give on my own work is invaluable.

20140925-000243-163101.jpgWhat Would I Do Differently?
Put prices on things immediately and have cuter price tags. I didn’t want to be pushy by having prices, but I soon realized when I was browsing myself that a price was one of the first things I looked for.

Put a muslin sheet over our work after the day is done. One fellow artist had several books go missing.  And while that could have happened while we were at the booth and the cloth doesn’t lock anything down, I think covering the table gives that sales-are-done-for-the-day feeling and one layer against temptation. I think people at the Book Fair are generally pretty honest.

Have a display rack for photos. It would be great if I could find a small v-shaped poster holder. The photos on the back wall were hard to access and I didn’t have a lot of stock. I’d like people to be able to look more closely at them.

Longer lead time on production. I had my proto-types for the application, but didn’t start producing in earnest until I learned we got accepted and got a table. But not knowing for sure if you get a spot and spending money on production just in case seems like a bad idea.

What Would I Do the Same?
The whole experience! It was great.

Work with Art Byte Critique. I think it is great to share a table with people. I could easily see being overwhelmed and a bit lonely if I were to do this alone.

More Estello! I got a lot  of great feedback on this project. I was a bit hesitant about how Estello would be received  so I made some very simple zines and some A4 posters. While the zines looked good and suited the casual style of Estello, I think I could get something a little better quality with a lower price point if I have a longer production time and spend a bit more.

Talk to people! I got a chance to interview some people at the book fair and to make some contacts. I also got to watch how people perceived my work. So this makes it a bit more useful as a testing ground for new ideas.

Fellow blogger, Universo Tokyo, asked me if I noticed any trends in the types of  work available this year. This is a tough question. I only attended for a short hour at the end last year, so many things may have already sold.  Like last year, there was a huge variety in the offerings, from high-level professionally done photography coffee table books, to stapled editions of zines. I feel like there were more zines and more hand-made books.

I think another trend was looking instead of buying. I have no idea how this compares to last year. I saw lots of people buying supplies, but proportionally less people buying books and maybe looking around for ideas. Goodness knows there was so much creativity in the building that the urge to start making something really built up.

If you attended, what was your impression of the Art Book Fair? Did you notice any trends?

I did buy a few books…

Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014: Interview with Tanya Tanaka

The Art Book Fair starts today! I finish up my interview series of Art Byte Critique Members with Tanya Tanaka.

Tell us a bit about your background.
I’m half British and half American, but I have spent virtually all my adult life in Japan (Kansai and Kanto), with the exception of attending art school in London. I love colours, textiles, the sky, the sea, the cityscape, the wires in our environment. This is my first printed book.
How has Art Byte Critique Group helped you prepare for the fair?
ABC (Art Byte Critique) has been an invaluable help in making this book and in reaching out to others.

Can you tell us a bit about your the process of creating your book?
Although at first I thought I would make books by hand, as it turned out, it made more sense to print. I started the process by making a font with tape and scanning the letters. Next I painted colours and abstract forms, and scanned. After all the scanning, I used Photoshop to make words and then pages. All the words are heteronyms and homographs, words spelled the same with meanings that vary according to pronunciation. I find the word combinations amusing little bits of confusing poetry, somewhat similar to the strange English we often find in Japan. The artwork on the pages facing the words was done with Japanese ink and pigments.

Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014: Interview with Dai Oinuma

The sixth interview in the Art Byte Critique Group series for Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014 is with Dai Oinuma. Dai studied at Rhode Island School of Design.

“Grave.” Photo courtesy of Dai Oinuma

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m from Japan. I usually work in photography and video – both analogue and digital. My work is an exploration of the persistence, growth, decay, and rebirth of the environment and all living creatures.

What kind of book/s will you have at the Tokyo Art Book Fair?
I will have middle-end photoboks and postcards. I’m trying to make my book as affordable as possible while maintaining a certain quality.

“Kate”. Photo courtesy of Dai Oinuma

Are these books mass produced or is each one unique?
My books are mass-produced, but they are hand-made.

What kind of materials do you use?
Washi and cellophane.

What are two points you want people to know about your books?
In addition to photographs, the book includes a couple of poems and texts inspired by headstone inscriptions at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Dorchester, MA.

Is there a website where we can learn more about you and your work?

Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014: Interview with Marc Tibbs

With only a couple days more until the Art Book Fair starts, the fifth of seven interviews with Art Byte Critique members presents Marc Tibbs. Marc studied in the United States.

Where are you from? 
Growing up in many different cities of the world, my mother always encouraged me and my sister to open our eyes and hearts to the world and to continually be inspired by the experiences and environments that we found ourselves in. I never set out to become anything in particular and never held myself to a specific dream, but continually try to move forward through life only to live creatively and push the scope of my experience for adventure and to follow my passions. If I set out tell you about it all right here, I would likely only be able to create a thin, unsatisfying outline of a few of the things I have noticed along the way. It would take me forever to tell it all and I leave it up to the things that I create to tell the story.
What’s your process?
I have no clear process and prefer to make things up as I go along. The things that I enjoy doing tend to develop and evolve into something interesting. This bookmaking project started with learning how to stitch a book together and everything else continued from there. I experimented with ideas in words, sketches and by physically making the books. One thing that caught my attention early on were books with wooden covers, so I tried to incorporate that into my project.
Do you have any favorite materials?
Anything I can get my hands on a play around with. My favorite materials at the moment are acrylic paints, ink, good paper, and wood panels.
Do you have a website where we can learn more about your work?
I do not currently have a website for my work.


Star-Fold Book


I’m trying different book binding techniques for submissions to the Tokyo Art Book Fair.

This effort measure 4.5cmx 4.5 cm. The six page book uses photographs of my snowflakes. The cover is made by recycling a Starbucks bag.

I’d like to try variations that have decoration on the top and bottom white spaces.

%d bloggers like this: