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My Favorite Book Artists, Chapter 1: Julie Chen

A couple of years ago, the Book Arts Guild of Vermont took a field trip to the Special Collections department at the Bailey/Howe Library at the University of Vermont. Connell Gallagher, then director of Special Collections, organized an amazing array of artist books for us to view. They were laid out on tables and we were given white cotton gloves to wear as we explored the work.

If you don’t know who Julie Chen is, you should. Julie is the amazing artist behind Flying Fish Press in Berkeley CA. I lost my breath when I saw Julie’s work. Her craftsmanship is just beyond description. Visit her website and check out her portfolio pages if you want to see it for yourself.

And if you think the images are amazing, you really should see them in person. I consider myself very fortunate for having had the opportunity to actually hold several of her pieces in my hands. If you have a university library near you with a special collections department, find out if they have any of Julie’s work. If they do, get yourself over there!

A print catalog of Julie’s work is also available – the book Objects/Encounters: Bookworks at Flying Fish Press 1987-2001 was written by Connell Gallagher & Cynthia Imperatore and was published by the University of Vermont. The book retails for $35.00.

As if seeing her work in person wasn’t enough of an experience for me, I have an even bigger opportunity over the horizon. In about a month, I’ll be taking a class with Julie at the Garage Annex School in Easthampton, MA. She’s teaching a course called Artists’ Books: Ideas, Actions, & Transformations.

I almost didn’t get into the class. The Garage Annex School announced their 2008 class lineup a couple of months before opening registration. When registration opened up, I wasn’t fast enough – the class sold out in 6 hours. I was so upset. I sent in an Email and asked to be put on the waiting list – I was #2 (like 2 people would be crazy enough to give up their spots). Well, apparently there are 2 people that crazy – thank you crazy people!

I plan to take lots of pictures during the workshop so I can share my experience with you. So think of me on July 7th – I’ll be the curly-haired bookbinder in Easthampton, MA trying hard not to look like a star struck doof.

So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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