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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?

We can broadly define artists' books as artworks where the medium is the form of the book. The content and form of artists’ books are intrinsically linked: as a result, they are able to communicate ideas on multiple levels, engaging tactile and visual elements like typography, binding, and paper.

Artists' books might be handmade or use commercial printing methods, and may be produced in small or large editions. Within Mason Libraries, we are interested in and collect works that present new or dynamic approaches to the book form, and which represent various modes of printmaking 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 has a number of historic collection strengths, including works by artists from the D.C./Northern Virginia/Maryland region, books by and about women, and topics of social justice and activism including environmental justice. The collection continues to grow, with particular interest in:

  • Books featuring traditional and evolving approaches to printmaking and production, from relief printing to Risograph
  • Democratic multiples and works that engage with publishing as an artistic practice
  • Photobooks and photozines


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.