If there's one thing that's better than sitting down to read a great book, it's standing up to inspect the wondrous world of book-related art. Whether it's inspired by books or designed using actual novels, countless literary creations have left us in awe this year. By showing us that the written word can truly jump off the page, the following artists have proven that a little bit of perspective and a whole lot of imagination can accomplish a great deal. These two concepts work seamlessly together to create miniature worlds that perfectly parody the microcosms we can find the moment we open a new book.
Since 2015 was a year filled with the most artistic of literary journeys, we'd love to share the best book-related art we discovered this year. Altogether, these pieces have the potential to transport you to a magical world filled with stories that have withstood the test of time.
9. Where They Live by Guy Larame
Artist Guy Laramee has made a name for himself through his incredible ability to transform encyclopedias, dictionaries, and secondhand novels into extraordinary mountain landscapes. Drawing inspiration from places that he's visited, the artist carves away at printed materials that have been replaced by technology. Upon the pages of wide-ranging publications, Laramee reveals every tree, curve, canyon, and crack in the Earth's surface. This erosion is a key motif in the carver's work, since it represents the changes that ultimately occur as time goes by.
8. Black Beauty by Ellen Cantor
Photographer Ellen Cantor has found a way to artistically express that books are the source of her favorite memories. “My current project, entitled Prior Pleasures, is deeply influenced by my love of literature,” she revealed. “This series explores memory and preservation of the past while ensuring the creation of a visual legacy for the next generation. The books photographed for this series are the ones I have carried with me since childhood. My mother read them to me and, in turn, I read them to my children, carrying on a tradition of the written and spoken word.” Overall, Prior Pleasures is an ethereal depiction that represents just how magical reading can be.
7. Weapon of Mass Instruction by Raul Lemesoff
Buenos Aires artist Raul Lemesoff recently re-configured an old Ford Falcon to look like a military tank. But instead of carting around ballistics, the tank has built-in shelves that can carry about 900 books. He's dubbed his creative mobile library as the Weapon of Mass Instruction. After working for several years on the project, Lemesoff is now driving his completed bookmobile on a peaceful mission across Argentina, distributing books throughout urban centers and rural communities. He says the tank can generate much social good as "a structure that has the ability of transporting books, giving books away, collecting books, making a mess of people's heads."
6. Create by Yuto Yamaguchi
Japanese artist Yuto Yamaguchi transforms hardcover books into sculptures by simply folding their pages. Without using scissors, he crafts the bold designs by intricately creasing each page so that the sheets of paper appear as one cohesive form. Yamaguchi's excellent craftsmanship produces smooth curves and sharp lines, making pop culture characters, cups of coffee, and lettering instantly recognizable and easy to read.
5. Alice in Wonderland Tattoo Chain by Litographs
What does it take to make the world's longest tattoo chain? According to book-loving company Litographs, such a project requires 2,500 people and a plethora of temporary tattoos featuring phrases from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. To launch their collection of temporary literary tattoos, Litographs produced a Kickstarter asking backers to pledge $1 or more for a temporary tattoo. Using Lewis Carroll's 55,668 words from his iconic novel, the company created the tattoos so that, together, they'd form the entire classic narrative.
4. S(edition) by Melissa Jay Craig
In Melissa Jay Craig's enchanting diorama, a small forest of 96 whimsical toadstools made from books bloom across two walls. The mushroom tops–or book covers, depending on how you look at the installation–are patterned after the poisonous fungi Amanita Muscaria. The artist says she has been oddly fascinated by fungi since she was a child, when she came upon a group of the orange-and-white toadstools clustered in a mysterious patch of towering pine trees. It was the first time she had "the intriguing feeling that the planet carried messages… for those who were curious enough to look."
3. Story Pod by AKB
Architecture studio AKB is bewitching Toronto's book lovers with an inviting design known as the Story Pod. As its name suggests, it's a pod for stories. Located near Main Street in the town of Newmarket, the compact construction serves its purpose as a book exchange where visitors can take a book, leave a book, or lounge on the built-in seating for a relaxing reading session. To invite readers into the space, Story Pod‘s doors pivot open in the morning to mimic the covers of a book. Once nighttime falls and the doors are locked to protect the books, energy efficient LED lights (which are powered by the roof's solar panels) make the structure look like a lantern. For those who are walking around at night, the Story Pod doubles as a beacon of illumination.
2. Opposition by Thomas Allen
Thomas Allen brings literary characters to life in a charming diorama series of paper "dolls" cut from book illustrations. The tiny people he frees from the pages of vintage books display the innocent fashion of the 1940s and '50s. He repositions the figures in new, surprising environments: A group of schoolboys plays a game atop a solar system map, a milkman delivers bottles against a galactic backdrop, and a little girl skips rope in front of a black-and-white book page, evidently overjoyed to be unbound from the pages.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Su Blackwell
Artist Su Blackwell utilizes beloved novels as an uncommon canvas and builds upward to create bewitching book sculptures. For her latest standout exhibition, she was inspired by how one's dwelling can act as an imaginative space. Yet, perhaps the most important part of her process is reading each book at least once. While this is a time-consuming technique, it does give Blackwell's work a vital amount of depth. It may seem as though the artist is simply producing visual sculptures, but she's actually creating a miniature world that revolves around time-honored stories. In doing so, Blackwell perfectly evokes a sense of childlike wonder within her illuminative works of art.