Books can be incredibly inspiring and uplifting.
Reading stories that resonate with you can lift you out of depression, give you a new outlook on life, or just make you smile when you’re feeling a little down.
But beyond the words they contain, books themselves can be a source of inspiration. Artists all over the world are creating astonishing works of book art, using ancient and modern bookbinding techniques, papercutting, pop-ups, drawings, paintings, fiber art, and more to transform these everyday objects into something much more.
Here, we’ve rounded up a few of the most breathtaking examples of book art we’ve seen recently.
Artist Luciana Frigerio makes custom book art that turns the pages of an old hardcover into personal messages, like a monogram or inspirational phrase. She carefully folds each page to create amazing 3D works, like a pop-up book for grownups.
Design firm Kaspen created a striking series of book art images for the now-closed Czech store Anagram Bookshop. The store may have shut down, but the book art lives on, inspiring artists and writers alike.
The works of artist Su Blackwell transform books into artistic representation of their plots, literally making the words jump off the page to illustrate their stories.
Another artist bringing works of fiction to life is Julya Hajnoczky. From wild imaginings of houses inside bird cages to 3D representations of the tale of the labyrinth and the Minotaur or Dorothy’s trip to Oz in the twister, Julya creates works that stay with you.
Designer Thomas Wightman has long created artist’s books, which appear similar to traditional books until you open them and find the beautiful vellum pages and intricate paintings within. But he’s also done a series of book sculptures made from existing texts, meant to illustrate the challenges of living with OCD.
Are you bored with having art only on your walls? Are your ceilings feeling left out? Artist Lisa Occhipinti may have the answer for you, in the form of her whimsical, cascading book page sculptures and mobiles.
Thomas Allen uses precision cutting tools and techniques to turn book covers and pages into dynamic pop-ups that represent characters and ideas.
Another artist who carves into books to create art is James Allen. His “book excavations” carefully cut into page after page of a book, revealing particular images or words that create a new story or scene from what was hidden inside the covers.
Luminous Creative Imagery created an entire book from the concept of a 3D paper sculpture modeled on a computer. Rather than carving away an existing book, they turned a sculpture idea into a working book shaped like a skull, complete with text inspired by ancient writing.
Artist Tim Baker creates sculptural book covers, typically around a steampunk theme. Intricate carvings, working dials, latches, gears, clasps, and more turn these covers into something more special than your average hardcover.
PRRINT studio uses old pages of dictionaries and other textbooks to provide a backdrop for embellished prints of vintage anatomy textbooks and other art. Their floral explosions add interest and intrigue to the textbook diagrams—there’s a story (or 10) just waiting to be told!
Painter Mike Stilkey uses books as the substrate for his paintings, stacking walls full of old books and then painting his fanciful illustrations on the spines to give these discarded texts new life.
Have you done any book art? Would you mind if an artist repurposed one of your books into a sculpture? Let us know in the comments!
For more ways to get your creativity flowing, read on:
- Bullet Journaling 101: Give Yourself the Ammo to Write Better
- 15 Fantastic Podcasts for Writers
- 5 Ways Writing By Hand Can Boost Your Creative Career
Kate Sullivan is an editor with experience in every aspect of the publishing industry, from editorial to marketing to cover and interior design.
In her career, Kate has edited millions of words and helped dozens of bestselling, award-winning authors grow their careers and do what they love!