Interview with Artist Jeni McConnell about Artist’s Books

The last six months has been great for meeting artists and talking to them about their work. Jeni McConnell is another British Artist I’ve exhibited with but haven’t had the chance to meet yet. She also shared a table with Art Byte Critique at the Tokyo Art Book Fair-Ginza Edition on the weekend of March 8th. It was lots of fun to watch people pick up and enjoy Jeni’s books.  In this interview she talks about her why she makes art books and her creative process.

How long have your been making art books?
Since 2007 when I took the 2 nd year print module during my Fine Art BA. The print tutor, Michelle Rowley, was (and still is) an amazing teacher, print artist and artists’ book maker. She introduced us to the form of the artists’ book and took us to see the special collection at MMU in Manchester, England https://www.specialcollections.mmu.ac.uk/artists.php. As a student group we began to show and sell our work at artists’ book fairs in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and London, which I continued after leaving college.

Why do you like making books?
I have long loved books as objects to be held, read and treasured. Sometimes, the fustier and yellowed, dusty and battered, the better the book feels as a weight in my hand. It’s as if the passing years add to the heaviness. I developed a passion for making artists’ books and altering existing books as a natural way of
extending and exploring this sense I have of the book as a form. The contact of marks connected to the papery surface, images that flex with words to take the reader or viewer to another place, on a journey, through an experience. I love to explore ways of presenting my thoughts in this wide ranging form, often conceptually. The process adds a rich layer of meaning to my other creative
forms of expression.

What do you like about making books compared to other forms of expression?
The book form is something that can be handled, explored, moved and touched which adds another layer of experience for those who interact. It is so much more than just looking, it takes you on a journey, gently leading you through the pages.
Many of my books will also have a container, box, or wrapper to hold the book form as a key part of the work. I love this way of making the readers’ explorational journey to get to the book a part of the experience.
There’s also a sense of freedom that you can explore in the order you wish; I am left handed so I think I explore books slightly differently because of my dexterity skill balance – tending to open and explore books from the back page first!

Do you have a favourite method or technique to make books?
I tend to stick to simple book forms, concertina and other folded shapes. I also make boxes and containers to place them in. For me it is so important that every part of the book form expresses the message, or responds to the theme I am working with. I often play around with small pieces of paper and different folds as well as with the images and words – there’s so much more trial and error in
the recycling bin than you might imagine for what at first look like such simple final forms!

What method of making books do you want to try next?
An altered book: I have an old book that I used to press some collected plants and weeds from a desire line walk I did a few years ago. I’ve removed the old battered pages of the book and kept the book cover and spine in tact – I now need to work out how I connect the pressed plants with the book frame in such a way that it conveys the message I want with the right aesthetic. I have been thinking about this for far too long – should I just get on with it?

What was the biggest challenge in making your book?

How Will This End by Jeni McConnell

How will this end is formed of inkjet printed A4 recycled paper sheets, cut, folded and glued to form a single concertina book. Getting the images cropped for printing and making sure the folds of the paper were level and even was key to the final piece. Thinking back further, it was also a bit of a challenge to get the plastic sea creatures covered in gold leaf, making sure their breathing/eating areas were kept clear – but it was a key part of the work.

Looking forward, I was unsure whether people would respond to this book with their own words and images, which the separate small cards were provided for. To date I’ve had no replies, but maybe people are still figuring out how to respond. I’ve done this in Europe with ‘Talking with Strangers, 2009″ and had quite a good response. Perhaps I need to explore and understand more about our
cultural differences – but even the silence is compelling for me to respond creatively!

Do you have any favorite book artists?
Elizabeth Shorrock 
Louise Tett 

Where can people find out more about your work? (Social media etc)
My website: jenimcconnell.com
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Tate Library

Interview with Artist Jacqui Priestly about Artist’s Books

Jacqui Priestly is a British artist who has been collaborating with Art Byte Critique in sharing artist books between the UK and Japan. Currently she is sharing a table with the Art Byte Critique artists at Tokyo Art Book Fair Ginza Edition from March 8-March 10. The Ginza Edition is at Sony Park and runs from March 8 to April 7. During weekends, exhibitors have tables and during the weekdays, books are available through a book vending machine.

Inside page from Melancholia by Jacqui Priestly
Books on left and right by Jacqui Priestly

How long have you been making artist books and why do you make them?
I haven’t been making artists books very long, along have l have made my own sketchbooks for some time, so am familiar with a number of book binding techniques.
I like how the medium allows me to combine my two artistic passions, writing – poetry & prose and visual arts – printing, painting, drawing and photography. I am also fascinated by how far we can push the concept of “a book” into more conceptual three dimensional forms.

Do you have a favourite creating books?
I don’t really have a favourite process in terms of book making, l like to experiment but l am fond of the traditional processes of stitch binding and stab binding, both can be challenging but rewarding when the pages come together. I am keen to try some cut page work on my next experiment, combining it with my love of ink drawings. Maybe starting with a more simple cut work like Maddy Rosenberg’s REPTILES! Which with its accordion format seems achievable using ink drawing and cut shapes.
I have included some images of my most recent books.

Further examples of my work across all media can be found on:

website: www.jacquipriestleyartist.com

blog: jacquipriestley.wordpress.com
Twitter: @jacquipy

Nicosui and Harunobu Aihara: The Couple that Felts Together

aihara-yuko-nicosui-needlefelting-fiber-artist-lorionophotographyYuko and Harunobu Aihara felt together. The pair recently had a fiber sculpture exhibition called Ikimono Expo 2 at Gallery Choukou (ギャラリー澄光) near Okusawa station (on the Meguro line) that shows how creative and detailed needle felting can be. The couple started 7 years ago with a small needle felting kit but immediately saw potential for their own designs and started with their own creations almost immediately. One thing that I noticed was the variety of color in the work and I know that they base structure takes a lot of wool. They admit to having a lot of wool roving–two large plastic boxes in fact. For two artists working together and using the same medium, their aesthetic is completely different. And all of the incredible detail (except for Harunobu Aihara’s yarn wrapping), is done with felting needles, not embroidery.

Aihara Yuko uses the artist name Nicosui. Real animals and the animal characters of Grimm’s fairytales inspire her work. She chooses her subjects by how much they intrigue her. Sometimes it is the story, as with the fairytale creatures, but often it is the animal’s face and her desire to try and create a particular shape or feature. She chose the koala because she was interested in recreating the fluffy ears and the shape of the muzzle. She told the most difficult was the giraffe because of the structure. It was surprisingly longer and thinner in the nose than compared to skull.


aihara-yuko-nicosui-needlefelting-fiber-artist-lorionophotography-2While Nicosui’s creations look realistic, she seldom chooses the animal’s natural color. Instead she chooses a color palette that represents what she sees the spirit of the animal: red for the lion, and pink and purple for the feminine nature of the giraffe, green for the koala. She also makes more realistically colored animals in small scale for broaches.

What Nicosui wants people to know about her work:

ぜつめつ動物をなくす (prevent extinction of animals)

Many of the characters she creates are endangered animals. She hopes to inspire the viewer to live in peace with animals and take care of the earth so that people and animals have a healthy place to live.

aihara-harunobu-fiber-artist-needlefelting-portrait-lorionophotography
Aihara-san holds “Gokiburi”

 

Harunobu Aihara is an illustrator and graphic designer. He is also a bassist in a 70’s music hard rock band. Nicosui’s work has more realism while Aihara’s work is about unique, fantastical characters. His style is whimsical and humorous. He says his style has almost always been like this. This year was the first he tried making insect-inspired creature. He really enjoyed them so he made a lot.

It’s not just Aihara’s aesthetic that is different from Nicosui’s. His work process is also completely different. He says that Nicosui takes a lot of time with each project working slowly to perfect her details while he prefers いきよいでつくる, making with momentum.

While he often starts with a sketch, which he may or may not adhere to. Sometimes he freestyles with wool. The base of his sculptures are wire armatures. He builds dimension over the armature by wrapping wool roving around it, and using felting needles to refine the shape. The color detail is a layer of needle felting, sometimes wrapping with yarn or fabrics depending on the effect he wants


He also made many angels, which also have insect or avian features. He said that they are slightly disguised to look like a bird if a person looked up to see one flying in the sky.


His goal: たのしと平和.  He wants to bring viewers moments of enjoyment where they can feel peace through happiness.

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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.

Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014: Interview with Studio Deanna

The Zinesmate Tokyo Art Book Fair starts September 19th and I’m interviewing fellow Art Byte Critique artists about their work. The second in the series of eight interviews presents Deanna Koubou of Studio Deanna. Deanna is a fiber and metal artist from the United States.

Where are you from and how long have you been in Japan?
I am an emerging American artist who has lived in Japan for about 10 years. I have visited 49 of the 50 states and lived in 11, most recently California.

Detail of Navigation and Migration series.
Detail of Navigation and Migration series.

How long have you been making books?
About a year. I’ve been stitching and sewing since I was a child so jumping into hand-stitched art books has been a very comfortable new art form for me.

How did you come to join ABC (Art Byte Critique)
As a group we’ve been meeting for almost a year to prepare for the Tokyo Art Book Fair.

How have these meetings helped you get ready?
The Art Byte Critique has been an amazing group of international and Japanese artists whose feedback on my work has pushed me to create the best designs possible. My favorite part about the group is how divergent we are in the mediums we use but still work strongly towards such similar goals of moving our own artwork forward.

What kind of book/s will you have at the Tokyo Art Book Fair?
I created two kinds of books, travel journals and mamebons (bean books).

Travel journals, photo courtesy of Studio Deanna.
Travel journals, photo courtesy of Studio Deanna.

Each one of my Travel Journals is a one-of-a kind handmade art book. Using a consistent cover design of rugged upholstery I have been able load each one with a variety of map pages from various countries throughout the northern hemisphere.

Inspired by the locations on the maps, I created a Migration/Navigation Series of hand-embroidered mamebons (bean books). I embroidered one with a16th Century sailing ship and another with a sea turtle. Both of which represent Navigation and Migration on our planet.

Detail of Migration and Navigation series.
Detail of Navigation and Migration series.

What kind of materials do you use?
Tough upholstery fabric, modern aviation maps, wax threads, embroidery threads, buttons, and crocheted lace threads.

What are two points you want people to know about your books?
I hope people will explore new places with these books. You can add your own sketches and memories into the Travel Journals or enjoy the hand-embroidered art books.

Do you have a website where we can learn more about you and your work?
My website is www.studiodeanna.com.

Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014: Interview with Arthur Huang

The Zinesmate Tokyo Art Book Fair starts next week and I’m participating with the Art Byte Critique Group. Art Byte Critique is a diverse group of artists based in Tokyo. I’m really excited about the event and really proud to be part of the group. They were generous enough to spare some time from their preparation to do an interview with me. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be posting their interviews on The Spendy Pencil.

The first interview is with Arthur Huang, founder of Art Byte Critique Group.

Tell us about your background.
I moved to Tokyo from the San Francisco Bay Area in 2009. I work at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute as a researcher in a laboratory studying the mechanisms of learning and memory in mice. At the same time, I maintain a studio practice working as a visual artist interested in memory and the everyday.

How long have you been making books?
I made my first artist book back in graduate school in 2001 incorporating bookbinding and screenprinting. Since then, I have always had an interest in making artist books, but I have not had the structure and motivation to focus on this craft. I began to explore this medium again in late 2013 in conjunction with the Art Byte Critique group, which I helped to start, with other Tokyo-based contemporary artists.

Can you tell us more about ABC?
The Art Byte Critique group was started to create an environment where artists could gather on a regular basis to share ideas and give feedback to each other’s work in progress.

How has Art Byte Critique helped you get ready for the Tokyo Art Book Fair?
We have had regular meetings over that last year to gather knowledge, inspiration, and feedback about our work in creating artist books. They have provided structure and motivation for me as we get ready for the Tokyo Art Book Fair in less than two weeks.

What kind of work will you have at the okyo Art Book Fair?
For the Tokyo Art Book Fair, I will be exhibiting a series of accordion books that I created in 2011 titled “One Year on Japanese Public Transportation” which is composed of twelve books. Each book represents one month of travels on Japanese, primarily Tokyo, public transportation. I have drawn lines which represent each train or subway ride that I took in that month. The lines are the actual route of the train or subway ride taken from a map of Tokyo. Each ride is connected to the next ride chronologically (time and day) and run back and forth through the length of the entire book. Each book uses slightly different marks to represent departure and arrival points.

In addition to “One Year of Japanese Public Transportation”, I am in the process of creating several new series of artist books based on my “Memory Walks” project and “Interstices” project. I plan to assemble the books for the these projects by hand, printing the images on paper or acetate, cutting and binding the pages by hand.

Photo courtesy of Arthur Huang
Photo courtesy of Arthur Huang

For the “Memory Walks” artist books, I am planning to create photo books composed of close-up photographs of my Memory Walk eggshells. Each edition of the “Memory Walks” artist books will consist of a single walk that I take on a regular basis, such as my walk from my home to the train station or the train station to work. The cover for each book in each edition will consist of a previously drawn “Memory Walk” crushed eggshell for that particular walk.

隙間 070614 #3 – 下北沢, Courtesy of Arthur Huang
隙間 070614 #3 – 下北沢, Courtesy of Arthur Huang

For the “Interstices” project, I am planning to create a series of accordion books in which individual photographs of alleyways in Tokyo are printed on acetate and then mounted into the pages of the accordion book. Taken individually, the reader can see the characteristics of each alleyway. When the book is folded, the different photographs will be overlaid to create a composite image of all the alleyways similar to the digitally created “Interstices” photographic series that I have been creating since 2012.

Is there a website where we can learn more about you and your work?
You can learn more about my progress towards the Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014 at my blog – arthurjhuang.wordpress.com. This blog also has more details and images about my “Memory Walks” and “Interstices” project. Please come to the Art Byte Critique booth between September 19th and 21st and say hello!

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