Wednesday, October 7, 2009

That's Bookmaker, Not Bookie

I am a Book Artist, sometimes called a Bookmaker. Yes, I usually get a confused or even concerned look from people when they hear me say that. "So...you write books?" Sometimes I write the words that I then letter in the books, but I am not an author. "Oh. So...you illustrate books?" I paint and collage the pages of the books I make, but I am not an illustrator. I make books, and sometimes I design and make a book so that the book itself is a piece of art. Most of the classes I have taught during the last 10 years have to do with making books.
Here is the great thing about books - You can use all 5 of your senses when you look at a book. You see it (Not just to read it. Some books will sell solely on the power of the cover art, especially if that includes the words "Oprah's Book Club Choice".), touch it (Admit it, there is something comforting about holding a well bound book in your hand) , there is sound made when your hands move across the covers and turn the pages (anyone who has tried reading in bed when the person next to them is a light sleeper knows this), taste it (No, I am not suggesting a literal devouring of the pages. But think of how often the combination of other senses with descriptive words such as those in "My Life In France" will cause drooling, uh, I mean salivating.), and the scent of the book can be very subtle, or strong enough to take you back to when you were curled in your dad's lap, and he would read stories from a book full of pictures you could enjoy as you thought how brilliant he was to be able to decipher the words that were still a mystery to you.
I have loved books since I first got my grubby little hands on one. I have been a book artist for almost as long. Just ask my mom how often I drew in, painted, cut and tore pages in my favorite books. Now I make books where every surface, even the thin edge of the page is covered with my painting, lettering and collage.
Some say the printed book is dying, and the future is all electronic. I agree there is a place for this Kindle thing, and someday I might own one when I can no longer carry all the books I want with me on a trip (oh wait, I've never been able to do that). But the printed book is too much a part of human history (that story would fill a whole library), too much a part of our senses. I only hope that Mark Twain's quote - "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated" will always apply to books. If nothing else, it gives children who are read to several wonderful years of believing they have brilliant, omniscient parents.