About Artists' Books

Artists' Books: An introduction


Artists’ books represent a unique genre of art that combines an emphasis on visual information (words and/or images) and a three-dimensional format—a book, folder, box, or sculpture.. 

There are few rules—only that the creator of the object executes all (or most) of the operations required to produce the “book.”  The author/artist may design, write, illustrate, construct, and market the object.  With this fundamental distinction, artist’ books differ from commercial books.

Conventional authors contribute words and then turn their projects over to the publisher who designs, manufactures and sells the book.  Ulisis Carrion, in "The New Art of Making Books" (from Joan Lyons, 1985, Artists' Books: A Critical Anthology and Sourcebook, Gibbs Smith, publisher), points out: 

A writer, contrary to the popular opinion, does not write books. A writer writes texts.

Artist’s books are typically “one-person” projects, and the books may be issued singularly or in small editions. They are vestiges of creative, democratic, independent, and unrestrained communication.


Fred Montague’s Artists’ Books (issued under the Mountain Bear Ink imprint)

Fred’s books represent true artists’ books and “hybrid” artists’ books.  His works include a one-of-a-kind book/sculpture piece (a true artist’s book) that consists of a hand-bound volume titled Wildness: Complete Works, Last Edition that is sewn closed and mounted as a sculpture. 

His most ambitious project, Rambling, is an 88-page hard-cover book that he wrote, illustrated, designed, printed on his 1913 letterpress, and hand-bound (hard cover) in a limited edition.  Two of his books, Leaves and Garden Grace, consist of hand-bound limited edition collections of illustrations-- each page hand-drawn.

His “hybrid” artists’ books appear in larger editions that he writes, illustrates, and designs.  Gardening: An Ecological Approach is an example, and he hand-lettered the pages of the original text.  Others he hand-binds in limited, signed and numbered, first editions of 88 to 8,800 books.  These include Garden Notes, Fox Sense I, and A Small Book of Winter Animals.  The larger edition sizes reflect Fred’s desire to offer his conservation and environmental commentary to as many people as possible in a collectable book at an affordable price.

To purchase Fred's available artists' books, please see Mountain Bear Ink's Books and Cards section.