I’m so thrilled to share with you my new found love for book art! I’ve discovered some brilliant book artists and I can’t wait to blog about each one of them! I’ve always thought of books as one of the greatest art forms. Literature has been my passion and anything related to it makes me go wild! Haha! I’m amazed at how these artists transform books into breathtaking works of art. I think it’s a great way of immortalizing books in a world that is slowly turning digital. Creativity knows no limits and I’m absolutely certain that you’ll be entranced (just as I was) when you see these clever creations. I’m so ecstatic to find the perfect blend of my passion for books and my love for art in the hands of these ingenious artists!
For my opening salvo, allow me to introduce you to the wonderful whimsical world of Mike Stilkey.
Mike Stilkey is a Los Angeles-born artist. He not only reads books, he paints on them! He paints his quirky characters on vintage book pages and on book spines. Stilkey said that old pages give him inspiration because they have history and character. He then started to paint book covers then stacked them up to paint the spines. This allowed him to create bigger pieces. When he started to create larger ensembles, he decided to incorporate discarded books (personal and from libraries) to his art in order to give them a second life.
Using ink, paint, colored pencils, and lacquer, Stilkey creates characters with a fantasy twist to it seemingly alluding to fairy tale narratives. I was actually reminded of Alice in Wonderland when I saw his paintings! He depicts a melancholic cast of characters inhabiting ambiguous spaces and portrays a lingering sense of loss and longing that draws the viewer to a mix of capricious poetry, wit, and mystery in his pieces.
Stilkey says that he looks at his artwork as one giant poem wherein he just feels his way through it then it comes out in a way that he doesn’t always expect. He says that he doesn’t edit himself that much, too. His work is reminiscent of Weimar-era German expressionism and his style has been described by some as capturing features of artists ranging from Edward Gorey to Egon Schiele.
In an interview, he said that each of his book sculptures—the huge installations with ginormous paintings—is an individual piece and doesn’t necessarily share a common theme with the other pieces he created. They are generally his expression of his wry sense of humor. Stilkey also likes to explore the relationship between human and animals with most of his art incorporating anthropomorphic creatures such as horses playing guitars, boxing pigeons, and elephants playing pianos.
Hats off to you, Mike Stilkey! Continue creating breathtaking book art! Give life to those abandoned books that deserve attention. You’re giving them their due longevity in a whole new different way. If only I had a lot of books to discard, I would donate them all to you, Mr. Stilkey.