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George Mason University Infoguides | University Libraries
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Artists' Books

Artist books are books created as original works of art. Mason Libraries own a growing number of artist books in Special Collections.

Begin Your Research

Curious about artists' books? This guide will help you to locate and understand Mason Libraries' collection of these objects.

What are artists' books?

Artists’ books can be a little tricky to define, but we broadly describe them as artworks that use the form of the book as their medium. The content and form of artists’ books are intrinsically linked, and as a result they are able to communicate ideas on multiple levels, engaging tactile and visual elements like typography, binding, and paper.

Artists' books may be handmade or use commercial printing methods, in small or large editions. For the GMU collection, we are interested in works that present new or dynamic approaches to the book form, as well as the democratic multiple. The collection overlaps with our zines and minicomics collection and is heavily used in teaching and outreach to various departments and organizations across our campus, including the book arts program in the Mason School of Art.

About the Mason Artists' Books Collection

Mason Libraries own over 300 artists' books, from handmade objects to more traditionally-printed photobooks. The collection is housed in the Special Collections Research Center at Fenwick Library on Mason's Fairfax Campus.

The artists' book collection at Mason continues to grow, with several areas of collection strength:

  • Book artists from the D.C./Northern Virginia/Maryland region
  • Books by and about women and women-identifying artists
  • Social justice and activism, including environmental justice

Image of artists' book "Finding Myself" - depicts a book partially unfolded with blue-green pages, covered in handwritten text

Marika Koskimäki-Ketelä, Finding Myself, 2011.