Paper is a banal material, which is common enough for everyone to relate with, yet neutral enough to be given a new lease of life. It is the perfect blank canvas.



April 8, 2009

dallas clayton is a children’s book writer and also writes short stories/poems. he illustrates these with small drawings.

Dear friend
there is a line you can cross
where she will break up with you
because of your beard
and how silly her coworkers all think it is.

You are nearing that line.

Teetering, even.

Once crossed
she will begin to see you
for who you truly are.

And likewise,
you her.

Dear friend
most people spend their entire lives
trying to achieve this kind of honesty.

And you found it
here at home
sitting on your porch
playing a mean guitar.

Well done.

shel silverstein is someone who needs no introduction. I can recite his poems by heart. He also wrote novels, for Playboy, and the lyrics to “A Boy Named Sue”

Weird-Bird by Shel Silverstein
Birds are flyin’ south for winter.
Here’s the Weird-Bird headin’ north,
Wings a-flappin’, beak a-chatterin’,
Cold head bobbin’ back ‘n’ forth.
He says, “It’s not that I like ice
Or freezin’ winds and snowy ground.
It’s just sometimes it’s kind of nice
To be the only bird in town.”
david sedaris. sardonic, sweet and bitingly funny, he’s a regular commentator on NPR, and has written a slew of books and articles. He lives in France with his partner.

All Grown Up

April 8, 2009

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Jeremy Tinder is a comic style artist residing in Chicago, who makes books, journals, paintings, installations and t-shirt designs. His almost children’s story style of illustration is contrasted with peculiar characteristics and details appropriate for more mature crowds (not in any perverted way, though). Typically incorporating monsters, robots and other hybrid figures, like a man with a hamburger head, his images seem to display a hidden narrative if not already obvious.

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These colorful collections of characters and scenery gave me the idea of creating personal narratives within a classroom. As his images are very welcoming and simplistic, the cartoonish techniques would be great to pass onto students, yet influencing them to illustrate new characters to form a personal story. Different book-making techniques could also be very helpful in this lesson. 

xcb1In 2006 School of the Art Institute of Chicago student Joey Jacks had a comic rejected from the school’s newspaper, Fnews, just one too many times.  Once F finally printed the comic, they would not print the second edition of the comic- crucial to the integrity of the work.  Joey had enough of this so he grabbed his pal Kyle Andrew O’Conell to lead finance and paperwork and they started their own zine Xerox Candy Bar.  They submitted the paperwork, crunched the numbers, became a student group, and pooled their resources here at the school to pay for the printing of this delightful work of art.  The idea behind the masterpiece was one of community and autonomy, artists should have a venue to publish whatever they want, together.

Over the years XCB has made some changes.  They still turn down no submissions, but they only publish  25 entries per month, so the ones that didn’t make it this month will be there next month.There are now five editors who organize and collect the works either digitally or in hard copy to be scanned. Every issue is on catalog at the John Flaxman Library but each new issue can be picked up at any of the school’s common areas.  Each issue is in a screen printed manila envelope.  There are special tasty editions every few months that include a CD of music, mini comics, buttons, and much more.  Founder Joey Jacks has since graduated from SAIC and continues to make really beautiful comics and intern with Anders Nilsen, another great artist.



I would like to highlight a very special editor of XCB, Beth Hetland.  She is a talented artist and writer, and a darn good bookbinder.  Her comics are simple and thoughtful, meaningful without being text heavy.  If I could only say one sentence about Beth it would be that she knows the value of a word. Beth will be graduating from SAIC in the spring and attending The Center for Cartoon Studies in the fall to further her education.


Students could draw comics of some of their own life experience with a limited amount of words.  They could be challenged to only use one sentence to complete the entire comic.  This is a good project for students to learn bookbinding too!  Students could use XCB as a model for working collaboratively.  Linked is one of my personal favorite bookbinding techniques- the never-ending book.  This is the perfect format for limited text.


click links above


Artist’s Books

April 7, 2009

brandi's book-handmade

this is my accordian book, the idea for the project is to make an accordian book and fill it with personal narrative drawings or you can make them sketchbooks!

Howard Munson

it was difficult for me to find a bookmaking artist because i have not studied up on the art. i found this guy and he has some interesting work with accordian and other styles of books.

i have also looked at Illuminated manuscripts from the midieval era and have found some pretty amazing work.

Lesson Idea: students could creat their own sketchbooks using the accordian book method and after a brief identity writing assignment they could illuminate their sketchbooks however they want using metalic paint and other similar materials.wga_12c_illuminated_manuscripts_mary_magdalen_announcing_the_resurrectionkells2leaves_of_gold

Calvin and Hobbes

March 25, 2009

Bill Watterson

Oh the simple things are the only things that matters sometimes. Who needs an Iphone, a Porsche, an airplane, not me, not Calvin and definitely not Hobbes. All we need is our trusty wagon, cardboard box , imaginations and sense of adventure. I love reading this cartoon strip. The creator of Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Waterson, has a kind humor that is still unmatched by any other strip I have ever read, but of course that is only my opinion. It is witty, clever, and sophisticated all wrapped into one. I feel it really captures the essence of childhood, well mostly mine. Growing up I never wanted those fancy toys, lasertag, Nerf guns, Nintendo, etc.calvinandhobbes_1 I had a neighborhood, I had a baseball bat, I had my imagination. Though I have to admit, I was an avid Lego fanatic. Yet I bought my own sets, I would save my weekly five dollars on months on end to buy those crazy time traveling scenes, castles, westerns, etc. Either way, what I’m trying to say is Calvin and Hobbes is were it’s at. If you enjoy reminiscing on your childhood habits, your games, your toys, your life, check some of the strips out, they’re sure to satisfy.



Calvin and Hobbes is a good starting point for any kind of lesson dealing with imagination. It can be applied anywhere from 3-12th grade, in my opinion. I would simply have the students look through several of the strips, read and get acquainted with the feeling and sense of humor of the work. I would them have them draw their own comic. They could choose to use Calvin and Hobbes, like I have done below for my exemplar, or they can create their own creatures, animals, characters, scenery, etc. Sometimes it’s just good habit to space out. Even Einstein did it, though he called it thought experiments, which they are. Just let your mind flow and your imagination run wild. Enjoy you guys.


your book is a palette

March 1, 2009


screen printing: cheap dirty and at home:

for sewn books (otherwise known as the coptic stitch bind):


altered, carved book

altered, carved book

booklyn: artist run non-profit making books as an art form and an educational resource. very exciting stuff in here:

the humument. A Human Document. A Hum(an) (Doc)ument. A Humument:

some idea help:

  • Find an old atlas. Map vacations or describe your personal journey.
  • Make pop-ups like those in children’s picture books.
  • Take a mystery novel and plant clues along the way to recreate the plot.
  • Write over words to cover them up or highlight words to make them stand out.
  • Cut windows out of pages to show glimpses of other pages later in the book.
  • Add stitching or beads sewn in a meandering path
  • Destroy book entirely

Remember, your book is a palette, a canvas, a 3d sculpture, cathartic, a journey, a document, etc. In making one you are combining sculpture and meticulous attention to detail with whatever it is your heart desires to make.