Tuesday, October 23, 2012


 Recently I sent out a survey to BookArtObject members, asking for some insight into why they have participated in BAO Editions, what they've got out of the experience (or not!) and any suggestions they might have.  So far I've received 29 responses: thank you!  If you haven't yet responded to the survey you can either go back to the email I sent you or access the survey HERE.
I don't want to do in-depth analysis of the results, but I thought you might all be interested in some general things that popped out at me once I'd had the chance to read the responses in full.  As you know, BookArtObject started small - 8 members in the first Edition, and roughly twice that for the second and third Editions - and has ballooned into something much larger with over 80 artists around the world working on Sarah Bodman's An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen with 100 story titles to choose from...  There's no doubt about the fact that the landscape of BookArtObject has changed significantly between Editions One and Four!
So what does the survey tell us? 
Overall I found the comments to be positive (thank you very much!), but there is definitely conflicting opinion about the size of Edition Four as compared to earlier Editions.  For some, the vastly increased numbers of participants has been an opportunity to connect with artists making artists' books in their own geographical area, but for others what was previously an intimate group has become unwieldy and impersonal.
There's no doubt that the size of the group now is a challenge, both in terms of managing the practical aspects of a large project and in terms of keeping the community going: it is easier to misunderstand a comment from someone you don't know from a distance, and inevitably some people find that blogging and long-distance communication suit them more than others.
Deadlines are also a sticky issue: with such a large group it is likely that a few won't finish their books, so perhaps we will end up with unfortunate situations in which a participant receives books from other members in their group but for some reason isn't able to complete their own contribution to the Edition, which would leave everyone feeling disappointed.  I really hope that doesn't happen: if you think this might happen to you, please contact your group co-ordinator ASAP and discuss the matter!  The nominal deadline for completion is the end of 2012, and I really would like to wrap things up in January and let everyone have a short break before we decide where to go next.
Of course Edition Four is only so large because of the nature of the 'text' we're working from!  I doubt if we'll be working from 100 story titles again...  But I don't want BookArtObject to fracture into little pieces either.  I imagine that some of you have enjoyed your participation this time around but might not join up for the next Edition, so there may be fewer participants for Edition Five.
Generally, you have all made very positive comments about BookArtObject and the overall quality of the project and its organisation.  Several people commented about how it has enabled them to make contact with other artists who share their interest in artists' books, as well as providing the impetus to make them.  The blog and the group contacts have also given participants a resource for help and information about making a limited edition of books, and has helped you to push yourselves further - all of which is very gratifying.
I think there are genuine concerns about how BookArtObject will develop from here, given the challenges of working with so many artists.  Who knows how it will turn out?  If you haven't completed the survey yet, I really would love to hear from you!  Click on the link above and take a few minutes to let me know what you think.  Meanwhile, I hope this blog will continue to function as a meeting point, a place to ask questions as well as show off your work, and a forum to discuss artists' books generally and the future of BookArtObject in particular.  If you have particular issues/comments/difficulties don't forget that you can contact your group co-ordinator or me directly via email.
Meanwhile, keep the books coming!  I am in the luxurious position of seeing your work before it goes off to Sarah Bodman, and I am so impressed by the books I've seen so far.  I'm going to photograph everything before I send it off, and I'm having fun!
Many thanks indeed,

P.S. the question has been asked about deadlines for previous Editions, as there are some that are not completely "closed off" - are they also to be finished by the end of this year if possible?  Well, really, it's not for me to say: we've always worked on the basis that there are no hard and fast deadlines and I don't expect every participant in Edition Four to be finished by the end of this year...  In case you are worrying about deadlines, please don't!  I am myself a guilty party because I still haven't finished my contribution to Edition Two, "Paper Wrestling".  I am STILL trying to get hold of old bridles/stirrup leathers (a saga in itself!) in order to finish my books, and I do still intend to finish them.  But I think it is inevitable that at some stage individuals will find themselves unable to complete their own contribution to their group.  So what happens then?  Well, I think that out of courtesy to those who have sent you their contributions, if you find yourself in that position you should contact the other members of your group and your group co-ordinator and offer to send the books you have received back to their creator: some people will  be grateful to have their contribution back; some might be happy for you to keep their book anyway.  As for me, I'm still plodding along but if anyone in Australia knows where I can get some bridles please contact me off-list!


Amanda said...

Thank-you Sara, for putting the survey together and undertaking some research on how the group is going. I'm delighted to see you are planning a paper for the next Impact conference. As for the next edition, time will tell...

dinahmow said...

I have sent my survey responses. But I will just reiterate here...we do seem to be very BIG now and I would hate to lose the personal connections.
I also said in my response that 2013 is already so heavily booked I will take a breather/sabbatical.
But thank you for your efforts, Sara.

Helen M said...

Thanks for all your work behind the scenes Sara and for putting the survey together and gaining a valuable insight into how everyone feels.

alison said...

Hello Sara as I wasn't a participant in this round I have read your survey and noticed your mention of finishing dates . Does this include past editions as I still haven't a full collection of "Paper Wrestling"?
Once again it is great to see how many artist's are interesting in creating books . Thank you to everyone for your efforts.