Artist Book Roadblocks

I’ve been working on my new Artist book, Medicine Dan, and while it’s still in the works, I’ve already run into several roadblocks. That’s to be expected, but it doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating.

The layout alone had to be put together a few times. The binding wasn’t going to look good with the number of signatures I had in the first place, so I’m making five now. Because of this, I had to buy more specialty paper, which caused wait time. It’s not like there’s an art supply store around here. Shipping takes time.

The print paper I originally had (Moab Legion Kayeta), of which I had a good amount, wasn’t quite enough. That was rather infuriating. It is expensive! Then I found that they don’t make it anymore. I had to purchase something different: Moab Legion Lasal, which is slightly thicker at 235gsm. I had to wait for that too from B&H Photo.

The coverstock I had, which is a handmade paper from India, won’t lay flat. It’s good for using as a whole piece to make a gouache painting on, but not to cut down for book covers. I had to search for something else. Luckily, I found a regular cardstock that was the same color, but that took a while. It just came in the mail yesterday.

Then I had printer problems. Anyone ever want to throw their color printers through the window? I’ve been through several printers over my life, and I think I’ve wanted to bash all of them with a sledgehammer. The Canon I have now has actually been the least fussy. It’s been Epsons that I’ve really hated. They all have a mind of their own. This time, it was my mistake, not the fault of the printer. Once I figured it out, it’s been all good, and yesterday, I was able to print the first two sheets of the first book.

One sheet equals eight pages. Two of these first pages need original elements. Watercolors. Not much on these, though—the title page, and the other page needs a bunch of happy faces. These are easy ones. These two sheets are then folded and covered with the first imported decorative paper. I’m only using two sheets (and the imported paper) per signature. There will be five signatures in total. I have a long way to go.

I also made a few bad cuts. And I made them on the big sheets of Arches. Wrong cuts are a waste of paper, time, and especially money. Of all the papers to fuck up on, I think that might be the worst, and probably one of the imported papers. Those are over ten bucks a sheet! And people wonder why these books are priced so high.

I have yet to make at least a few more illustrations. They will be printed, but I have to paint them at least once, scan them, and put them into the templates I’ve created. Then there are a few original paintings I’ll have to paint eight times. I’ve tried to make them “easy,” but it’s still going to be tedious. And I’m still working on the colophon. Right now, this is what it says:

Medicine Dan is a story about a special animal who heals. He is a cartoon character invented by artist Ayin Es. This Artist’s book is sixty pages on mostly Moab Lasal Photo Matte 235gsm. Using digital color printing and reproductions throughout, various original sketches and watercolors were created on Arches hot press 300gsm. Signatures are wrapped in Thai Marbled Mulberry, Thai Mango, Thai Unryu Lokta, and Aitoh Japanese papers and feature rubber stamping. There are also two hand-stitched felt pages, an imported Khadi Indian paper pocket inserted with stickers of Dan, and a buttonhole binding with waxed linen threads. The 300gsm cardstock covers are embroidered and die-cut with a silhouette of Dan.

The only thing I’m waiting on is the die. It was already custom-made, but it’s still on the way. I don’t need to use it until I’m almost ready to bind the books, so I’m not too worried about it. I just hope it works on the coverstock and the felt. I don’t want to have to cut Dans out of the felt individually by hand. I already have to hand-sew them to the paper. Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into?

2 thoughts on “Artist Book Roadblocks

  1. Hannah November 26, 2023 / 8:02 am

    All hail Medicine Dan and his traveling cabinet of curiosities!

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