An Artists’ Book Start To Finish, Part 1

Melania's Dreamcoat copy

I’m in the middle of my preparation for CODEX 2019. I use CODEX as my every two year deadline to introduce new work. I’ve got a suite of work in progress and, just this week, I’ve started working on a new piece. I know our processes all vary, and learning about them can be interesting, so I thought I’d share mine.

First: The Idea

Most of my ideas are sparked by something I hear on the news, talk about with Greg, or run across in daily life. This particular artists’ book began as a response to the jacket Melania wore to the detention center in Texas.

I played with some ideas for a few days and told Greg, “There is something here, beyond the obvious, but I just can’t quite put my finger on it.”

Then last weekend I drove to Hanford, CA to visit my parents. Usually Greg drives but in this case we wanted to get there early (Greg is not a morning person) so I drove and he slept. I didn’t turn on a podcast or the radio because I wanted him to sleep as much as possible.

I really should sit/drive/walk with quiet more often. Sometimes I forget how much fun my brain has meandering and making connections.

It started with problem solving another in progress piece and making some mental “to do” lists. Then my brain wandered over to the jacket idea. Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat floated by. As did Madeleine Albright’s book about how she used pins to signal different things in her diplomatic meetings.

Aha! Now I knew what I wanted to do for this artists’ book. The cover would be the green fabric  of the now infamous jacket with the title in the same font style as the writing. The working title: Melania and the Controversial Pale Green Pea Coat.

My goal with this book is not to espouse a particular political viewpoint. Rather to explore how women use fashion to communicate in politics and diplomacy. With some added lyricism, Andrew Lloyd Weber style. Clearly still a work in progress, but I have some threads to pull.

Up next? Research.

I’ve collected 35 pages of articles about women/fashion/diplomacy and politics. And ordered an out of print book titled “Power Dressing: First Ladies, Women Politicians and Fashion” from Amazon. And requested the related books I could find at our library, “Reforming Women’s Fashion, 1850-1920: Politics, Health and Art,” and “Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat’s Jewel Box,” and “The Worn Archive.”

I found some interesting references to men’s fashion being used the same way, in particular Mr. Trudeau’s socks. Perhaps there is a sock book in my future. But I digress.

Stay tuned for the next phases: reading, materials collection, and writing.

How does your artwork begin? With an idea? A material? Do you have a standard process? Please leave your process in the comments!

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

 

One response to “An Artists’ Book Start To Finish, Part 1

  1. Hi Ginger
    It’s interesting to hear your thought processes, especially the amount of research you do. I hope more people will weigh in, I imagine it’s pretty individual. I wonder if the working title is too long? I didn’t realize Melania’s jacket was a pea coat. And what about including the other fashion statements in the title? First I thought maybe “Melania and the controversial coat.” Then something like “Clothing tells stories” Still on the green canvas with hand painted text. I am looking forward to seeing the completed book.

    My working process isn’t so organized. Sometimes I have an idea, based on a dream or something I notice. Then I do sketches, a mock-up and finally some test pages. Sometimes a phrase will catch my attention and I start a book that uses that on a page. I have to work out from there, expanding to get enough pages. Or I make a pile of pages, roughly painted in the colors I want, and start collaging and drawing on them. If something starts to take form I try to expand that. I hardly ever do research, but I’m taking a different approach anyway.

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