jellyfish and artist’s books

Written by Kieu

Moon jellies, Thien-Kieu Lam

Why does a work of art – in this case, a small edition of artist’s books – take over three years to complete?

  1. I do a lot of research, which I really love. Sometimes, more than necessary (see research rapture).
  2. I write the text. And rewrite. And revise. And then try to ignore so I’ll stop tinkering with it. Because, you know, there’s always room for improvement.
  3. I prototype. For this project, that means structure. What kind of binding? How will the pages interact?
  4. I experiment with methods and techniques. How will the text be reproduced? The illustrations? I have to draw the illustrations too, before I can reproduce them.
  5. Production time! Measuring and cutting down paper. Stenciling (my main mode of reproduction for this edition). Some hand-drawing (may need to revisit #4). Binding (more cutting plus sewing). And did I mention each stencil is cut by hand?
  6. The books need housing. One container per book. I have a design in mind, but it will require prototyping.
  7. I have to work, as in the job that pays the bills. Which means less time to work on art.

So the next time you ask me what I’m currently working on, don’t be surprised when I say “the jellyfish book” for the hundredth time. There might be an odd this or that along the way, but I’m working on #5 and I really and truly intend to finish this year. By this summer. That’s the goal!

And why a jellyfish book? Well, that is a story for another day.