Well-told stories are works of art — and the books that house them can become literal, visual works of art too! In honor of National Book Lovers Day, we’re sharing some of the best examples of book art we’ve come across. From whimsical fairy tale book sculptures, to paper couture, to jaw-dropping literary landscapes, here’s a fresh way to feed your imagination and celebrate your love for literature today!
Did you ever read about Tolkein’s Middle Earth and feel like you were actually there? Well with the incredible book carvings of Guy Laramee, you can actually see the sweeping mountain ranges, dappled scrub, and secretive caves brought to life. Laramee sandblasts his books (sometimes using entire volume sets at once!) to create topographical marvels that look startlingly real and adventure-ready. We can scarcely believe this is paper!
If you’ve ever wished to be transported into a fairy tale, the art of Su Blackwell will whisk you away. From lonesome castles to cheerful tree houses to mysterious woodlands, we can’t stop marveling over Blackwell’s meticulous detail (just look at those leaves!). She also adds lights to her book sculptures, creating a warm welcoming glow (with the occasional sinister shadow) that makes every fairy tale scene come to life. She’s even created life-size set design versions of her book art for the stage–magical!
Here’s another ultra-detailed book sculptor who is using his art to send a message. Thomas Wightman explores the experience of compulsive OCD within his carefully cut pages and tiny dye-cut letters. Whether it’s a ship spiraling into the papery depths or a book being eaten from the inside out by paper moths, Wightman tackles obsessive compulsive disorder and mental health with deep emotion and stunning craftsmanship.
Brian Dettmer has found a brilliant way of recontextualizing book illustrations into fresh, multifaceted art pieces. Using scalpels, tweezers, and other surgical tools (thus earning himself the nickname “The Book Surgeon”) he cuts out illustrations and layers them on top of one another to create a three dimensional work of art. The result is contemporary, striking and tactile, inviting you to discover layers of meaning within layers of paper.
Sylvie Falcon is making all of our literary couture dreams come true. The French designer repurposes irreparably damaged books into stunning, wearable works of art. From her pink page tea dress to her stunning book spine ball gown, her fashions look straight out of a fairy tale book (and are probably crafted from their pages!). We’re ready to fall down a rabbit hole or dance the night away in these frolicsome frocks–can we order one to size??
Ready to give paper art or book sculpture a try? Our content creator Chelsea at Books Forward tried her hand at making a wearable paper dress thanks to prixprix’s fantastic Instructables tutorial found on this awesome DIY paper crafts list! She also sculpted a wig with paper mache, origami, paper towel rolls and book pages. Paper is pliable, inexpensive and easy to work with — perfect for crafting, and easier than you think! Ready to make your own book art? Tag us @booksforward to share your creations with us!
Happy National Book Lovers Day!
A former award-winning journalist with national exposure, Marissa now oversees the day-to-day operation of the Books Forward author branding and book marketing firm, along with our indie publishing support sister company Books Fluent.
Born and bred in Louisiana, currently living in New Orleans, she has lived and developed a strong base for our company and authors in Chicago and Nashville. Her journalism work has appeared in USA Today, National Geographic and other major publications. She is now interviewed by media on best practices for book marketing.