Mike Stilkey’s Library of Painted Books
Via The New Yorker
His work on stacked spines and covers reworks books into a beautiful, albeit unreadable, library. I asked him a few questions: What’s the ratio of books-for-painting to books-for-reading in your
house? That’s a good question. I have collected many books over the years, and combined with my wife’s library. We have a pretty impressive selection of reading material. I would estimate that at this point in time, I have gotten my hands on about five hundred discarded books—these are what I use to paint on. Occasionally this number will be in the thousands, depending on the size and scope of whatever installation I’m creating.
How do you choose which books to use for a particular painting? I consider several aspects of the book when I’m selecting for a painting. One factor is the color of the book cover, another is the material of the cover, and a third is the title of the book and how this relates to the narrative of the piece.
Read more here.
Why did you choose to paint on books? It seems like it would have been a challenge to go from working on paper to painting on something so dimensional. What was that transition like?
It was sort of an accident. I was painting on book pages for forever, and actually published a book in 2005 titled “100 Portraits” in which I drew one hundred portraits on old book pages. At the time, I was drawing on books, records or anything else I could find at a thrift store. Eventually, I started drawing on the books themselves. I was going to do a project where I just drew on the covers of the books, and as I finished them I would stack them against the wall. It dawned on me that it might be a good idea to paint down the spines of the books instead of just on the covers.