Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Art by Mike Stilkey

From the official Mike Stilkey page:  Los Angeles native Mike Stilkey has always been attracted to painting and drawing not only on vintage paper, record covers and book pages, but on the books themselves. Using a mix of ink, colored pencil, paint and lacquer, Stilkey depicts a melancholic and at times a whimsical cast of characters inhabiting ambiguous spaces and narratives of fantasy and fairy tales. A lingering sense of loss and longing hints at emotional depth and draws the viewer into their introspective thrall with a mixture of capricious poetry, wit, and mystery. His work is reminiscent of Weimar-era German expressionism and his style has been described by some as capturing features of artists ranging from Edward Gorey to Egon Schiele.

Some insight into his work from an interview with Dave Kinsey posted on another blog.
I like to think of my artwork as one giant poem. I never really have a concrete idea of what I'm going to do. I just kind of feel my way through it and it comes out in a way that I don't always expect. I really try not to edit myself too much.
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.
You’d be amazed at how many books are thrown out. I like the idea of reusing all of these discarded items as canvases for my work. I even asked the library up the street from my house if they had any books that they were getting rid of, and they said no. When I explained to them how I use them, they gave me access to a huge dumpster in the back parking lot of the library. The dumpster was filled with thousands and thousands of books. I spent the afternoon fighting with some homeless guy over who got which book from the dumpster.


More pictures on Mike Stilkey's Facebook page and official website:

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