Skip to main content

Artists' Books Guide: ARTISTS' BOOKS AT THE MILLARD SHEETS LIBRARY

Research guide to the Artists' Books Collection at the Millard Sheets Library, Otis College of Art and Design
Spinning

Spinning by Gail Watson

Transforming

Transforming Hate by Clarissa Sligh

Mideast

Mideast Kaleidoscope by Louise Neaderland

26 Gasoline Stations

Twentysix Gasoline Stations by Edward Ruscha

Composition in F Minor by Ginny Lloyd

Composition in F Minor by Ginny Lloyd

Aggregate Memory by Macy Chadwick

Aggregate Memory by Macy Chadwick

Lessons from the South by Susan King

Stages of the Hajj

Stages of the Hajj by Daniel Mellis

Life Time by Julie Chen

Jazz by Kathy Miller

Useful websites

Definitions

Simply stated, artists’ books are works of art in book (or book-like) form. An artists’ book may be a unique, one-of-a-kind piece but it might also be produced in an edition. It may be letterpress printed using handset metal type or photopolymer plates but it might also be printed offset, mimeographed, photocopied, written by hand, or created using online self-publishing companies. It might incorporate unusual materials like soap, food, or LEGOS. Sometimes it’s produced as a codex and will look like a book but it might also be a scroll, set of computer punch cards, or sculptural piece. This wide variety of form makes a single definition hard to come by but in almost every case, the appearance and production of the work is determined by the artist.

The twentieth century witnessed particularly varied and creative experimentation with artists' books culminating in an explosion of the medium in the 1960 and '70s with California a center of much of this production.

Why does Otis College collect artists' books?

The collection of artists' books at Otis College of Art and Design began and grew significantly during the 1960s and '70sd due largely to the efforts of librarian Joan Hugo, a recognized expert in the field. The Otis Library's current collection is approximately 2,500 works. Among the holdings are books by important contemporary artists such as Ed Ruscha and Joseph Beuys as well as work by recent graduates of MFA programs in the book arts such as Sarah Bryant and Daniel Mellis.

The goal of the Otis Artists' Book Collection is not to create a comprehensive archive, but rather to provide a teaching resource available to artists and students. We encourage use of the collection by both members of the Otis College community and outside researchers.

Where can I find artists' books at Otis College?

Most of the artists' books in our collection are kept in Special Collections and may be used in the library only.  Images of many of the artists' books from Special Collections may be viewed online in Otis Collections Online.

However, we do circulate artists' books that are sturdy enough to withstand life on the shelf. Check the Main Campus Book Stacks for call numbers beginning with N7433.4.

Can I see artists' books from Special Collections?

Yes! Here's how

  • Make an appointment with me at least a day ahead of when you'd like to visit. Please also let me know if there's anything particular you'd like to see, either by artist, title, type of structure or technique, or subject matter. It may help to browse images in our Collections Online.
  • Schedule a class meeting. I can bring books to your class or you can bring your class to the library. Advance notice is required; please schedule a visit by contacting me or using the this form.
  • We offer "Hands-on" events during the regular academic year; at each of these events we have artists' books available for perusal. These and other events are announced through Otis Community email posts.
  • Check the exhibition space at the front of the library where artists' books from Special Collections are regularly displayed. Again, please contact me if you'd like a closer look at the work.

Books ABOUT Artists' Books

Books about artists' books are shelved in the Main Campus Book Stacks and have call numbers beginning with N7433.3 and N7433.35. These books are a good place to look for inspiration.

Books about how making books have call numbers that begin with Z266 through Z271.

  • The Bonefolder: An E-journal for the Bookbinder and Book Artist (free online 2004-2012, ceased  publication)
  • Book Arts Newsletter
  • Bookways: A Quarterly for the Book Arts (1991-1995, ceased publication) print issues may be used in the library, please request
  • Central Booking current print issue in the Periodicals section; please request back issues
  • Journal of Artists’ Books (JAB)  current print issue in the Periodicals section and may be used in the library only; please request back issues
  • Umbrella (digital database of the journal begun by Judith Hoffberg in 1978 and continuing through 2008)
Loading

Catalog and Special Collections Librarian

Cathy Chambers's picture
Cathy Chambers
Contact:
9045 Lincoln Blvd.
Otis College of Art and Design
Los Angeles, CA 90016

(310) 665-6927

Millard Sheets Library | 9045 Lincoln Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90045 | 310-665-6930
Otis College of Art and Design | Dashboard | Library in Dashboard
Millard Sheets Library | Ask a Librarian