Must See Shows, Part 2 – Bound For Success

Bound For Success

May 19th – July 31st, 2010, The Grolier Club

Okay, don’t hate me, but I seem to be much better at advertising closings than openings.  So while Bound For Success: Designer Bookbinders International Bookbinding Competition is almost over, it is SO freaking amazing that you must make a point to go in the next 48 hours!  Really!

Bound For Success is an international showcase of bookbinders, organized by Designer Bookbinders, a British society for contemporary book arts.  For this year’s competition, the world’s best bookbinders were given the specially-commissioned anthology, Water, and asked to create an exterior that reflects it.

This ain’t yo’ momma’s book cover design – hand bookbinding is a fine art unto itself.  The creativity in concept and material blows anything created by traditional publishing out of the water (pun intended).  Leather, needlework, found objects, glass, resin, paint, plastic and wood, such as the book of the grand prize winner, Alain Taral of France (whose binding of “pear wood covered by a myriad of exotic veneers”, shown below), are used.

What interested me about the exhibit was that it made me approach the book in a whole new way.  As an illustrator, art is content – words and pictures on the page that tell a story in 2-D.  But for bookbinders, the pages themselves were almost irrelevant.  Sure, no doubt each artist carefully designed their look around Water, but in the show, the book exteriors became 3-D sculptures.  You could barely even see that there were pages behind the glass displays, let alone flip through the contents.

I actually loved that these fine art bookbinders were all about 3-D material.  It was fascinating to read through the alluring, mysterious techniques used (especially because I don’t know what they mean!): exposed hinge stitching, deckled edge paper, morocco goatskin leather, concertina fold, hand-sewn endbands, gold foil inlay, lithograph, applique…  mmm!  I spent the entire time in total awe, knowing that no matter how hard I tried, my craftsmanship could never even come close to that of these world-renowned bookbinders.

Well, what are you still reading this blog post for??  Get yo’self to the Grolier Club, stat!

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