Unbinding the Book

Indie publishing platform Blurb and visual arts studio Jotta are working together this year to commission 12 artists and designers to create original books or book installations that will celebrate the art of books, book-making and illustrated story telling. Exhibiting in Europe and North America from September 2014, Unbinding the Book will bring together the work of practicing artists, recent graduates and a new generation of creatives. Unbinding the Book wants to change preconceptions of who can be an author and what a book can be.

The Brief

We are looking to commission twelve artists and designers to create new books or book installations that will celebrate the art of books, book-making and illustrated storytelling. Pushing the boundaries of how books can be experienced, you will be challenged to evoke the storytelling properties of print and the way in which images evoke a narrative, whilst bringing to life the materiality, form and physicality that make books so alluring and different from their digital counterparts. Within this, you are invited to explore all elements of book production such as, for example, interventions pre and post printing, digital augmentation, and new methods of display whilst considering the sculptural qualities of print.

If selected your work will be exhibited in a group exhibition in the US and UK. You will also receive a $1,000 artist fee, have all production costs covered and be offered full curatorial and production support in realising your work.

To submit your proposal click here

Deadline 16th May 2014

Launch events

Prior to the exhibition Blurb hosted a series of events in London, New York and San Francisco to promote the wide landscape of independent publishing.


Alida Sayer
Matthias Hübner
James Cuddy & Roma Levin

at Shoreditch Studios
16 April 2014

New York

Yolanda Cuomo
Brian Storm
Brian Dettmer
Sto Len

at Glass Houses
21 April 2014

San Francisco

Andrew Losowsky
Ala Ebtekar
Donna Seager

at Dog Patch Studios
24 April 2014

Each event included lectures, providing a platform for eminent speakers to discuss their experiences of book arts, alongside a library of book executions that explore a number of themes relevant to Unbinding the Book.

‘Print has a presence and it has a legacy. It is the role of the artist or designer to understand that, and to push its limitations. And if they don’t, somebody else will.’

Andrew Losowsky, 2013: 7

Unbinding the Book continues a tradition of artists and designers who have approached books as a medium in their own right. From Futurism to Fluxus, books were crucial in the development of conceptual art, and became a medium that was accessible to artists, designers and their audiences, whilst offering new possibilities in creative expression. Below, Gossage provides us with the four key factors he sees as being crucial to the success of the artist book.

‘Firstly it should contain great work. Secondly, it should make that work function as a concise world within the book itself. Thirdly, it should have a design that complements what is being dealt with. And finally, it should deal with content that sustains an ongoing basis.’

John Gossage, quoted in Parr and Badger, 2004: 7

Unbinding the Book will look to explore these four functions as well as adding a fifth – how the reading experience of the printed book can be broadened, extended or enhanced

For more information please contact
the team at

About Blurb

Blurb is a company and a community that believes passionately in the power of books – in both print and digital form. Blurb’s indie publishing platform is simple yet flexible enough to make everyone an author — every designer, artist, blogger, photographer, cook, entrepreneur, poet, everyone. Founded by Eileen Gittins in 2005 the Blurb platform enables everyone to independently publish, share, market and distribute their work. With over 1 million book creators and more than 2.8 million unique titles published to date, Blurb is re-imagining not only who gets to be an author but also what books can and should be in the 21st century.

About Jotta

Jotta is a creative studio founded with the world famous Central Saint Martins, a partnership that encourages the exploration and application of the latest trends in materials and ideas within our work. Bringing together skills in installation and exhibition design, content creation and digital production, Jotta works across mediums to develop output with a strong visual aesthetic that builds a lasting cultural legacy for our clients. Past collaborators include Sony, Unilever, Absolut, Intel and The Design Museum.


How do I apply?

When is the deadline for submissions?

May 16th 2014.

What are the benefits to taking part?

Each artist will receive:

  • Be a part of a group exhibition in Europe and the US
  • An artist fee of $1,000
  • All production costs covered
  • Curatorial and production support
  • Exposure through documentation materials
  • (including artist film about them and their practice) and publicity around the exhibition

Do I need to have a background in book arts or book design?

As long as you are a practicing artist or designer, or are studying within an art school or university, Blurb and Jotta are here to work with you to realize your ideas.

What will happen if I’m successful?

Successful applicants will work closely with Blurb and Jotta, documenting their journey and the development of the final exhibition artworks, capturing the whole creative process.

Studio visits will be recorded, and interviews with each artist and designer will be published in order to begin a critically engaged conversation, exploring the intricacies of book arts and self-publishing, creating content and anticipation for the exhibition itself. This content will be available online and across Blurb’s social media channels.

Should I use Blurb’s services within the production of my work?

We would encourage you to think of the services Blurb offer as another production tool available to you. You may choose to print one book or a series. Alternatively you may choose to change the physical book(s) once printed or you may simply want to create a narrative driven book that remains unchanged post printing. Unbinding the Book is about exploring the realms of what a book can be so we are very open to your ideas.

Can I Submit a Past Project?

If the project has not been realised yet then you can submit. Already realised projects are not eligible for entry unless accompanied with plans significant development.

Can I submit as part of a collective or partnership?

Yes, we encourage collaboration. However, all benefits of selection (eg the $1,000 artist fee) will need to be shared between collaborators.