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A Guide to Artbook Printing

What is an art book?

Not many of us have the good fortune to be able to afford a genuine work of art.

That doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate them though, as confirmed by the volume of people who visit museums and art galleries every year.

The Mona Lisa, arguably the most famous painting in the world, is viewed by an astonishing six million people every year, while museums such as Tate Modern, The Vatican Museums, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Hermitage also welcome millions through their doors annually.

Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, Picasso’s Guernica, Michelangelo’s epic fresco at the Sistine Chapel, Munch’s The Scream and Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer draw the biggest crowds.

This just highlights the fact that we have an unquenchable thirst for arts and culture, along with an appreciation of the huge skill of these talented painters.

If you’re lucky enough to see one of these works of art up close and personal, then there’s really only one way of keeping that memory alive.

Most of them have strict rules about taking photographs – particularly as flash can damage these delicate paintings – so you need to find another way.

And that way is undoubtedly a beautiful, high quality artbook that can be seen as a piece of much-loved furniture in your home.

Coffee table books are just that – a high quality, stylish publication, there to be read, as a point of reference or even just as an accessory to showcase your interests.

Art books are inevitably created to a top spec, because these works need to be seen in all their glory. A flimsy cover and a grainy image don’t cut it – they need to be produced in a way that pays homage to the content.

How are art books printed?

If you visit a gallery or exhibition, chances are you can pick up a catalogue which highlights the exhibits or the items for sale. You may not be able to afford a genuine piece, but you can still take home a reminder – and one that you will treasure.

For anyone who curates a temporary (or ‘pop-up’) display which brings together a body of works for a limited period, creating the perfect accompanying book is a must.

It offers a great sales opportunity as visitors know that these art works are unlikely to be in one place again, so there needs to be a tangible way of marking the occasion.

For example, some years ago the Victoria and Albert Museum produced a Vivienne Westwood exhibition, charting the fashion designer’s rise from humble beginnings to becoming a fashion icon. The accompanying catalogue has become a collector’s item in its own right – a sumptuous, colourful and top quality offering which visitors and fans alike snapped up.

How to make an art book

Art book printing can be done in several ways, making the most of the available technology for maximum effect – and using methods that we also offer at WTTB.

For example, lay flat books – where a large image can be spread across two pages without a fold so it doesn’t compromise the picture at all – is a must when it comes to displaying a picture or painting in its full glory.

A hard cover book is also a way to add value to your art book and allows it to be sold at a premium price.

The addition of metallic foils on the cover can also really increase the perception that this is a high value item, where no expense has been spared in its production.

It’s not just an aesthetic decision however, there’s some sound financial basis for coming up with a high-quality offering. A book to be treasured can command a premium price and may even be a limited edition, making it more valuable.

Take for example the hardback book, Versailles: From Louise XIV to Jeff Koons. Lavishly illustrated, it arrives in its own dedicated box and with a pair of white gloves to ensure no greasy fingerprints get on it – well worth the £800 plus asking price.

How do I turn my paintings into a book?

Now you may not be Picasso, but that’s not to say you can’t take your own artwork and turn it into something to treasure. Even – dare we say it – if you’re not the best painter in the world, you can create something that means a lot to you and your family, something that will last when you are no longer around.

There are lots of options for creating your own book out of your personal creations. Good photography is a must – it might be worth investing in this – and then it’s just a matter of deciding on the style and format that you prefer.

As previously mentioned, lay flat is a great option if you have large scale, epic size pieces and you might want to include some pages of text to highlight your thinking/your motivation or even acknowledging your muse.

Add in a hardcover and you have a really beautiful result, which will not cost you the earth. You can decide which size and orientation suits your particular paintings – will they work better in landscape or in portrait?

Do you want a hard cover or a high stock (thicker) soft cover art book that is of higher durability than the inside pages? Glossy paper is a great way to make your images really pop, so factor this into your decision making and whether this suits your body of work.

It may not be your own work that you want to publish at all, but that of a group or even students or school pupils.

Again, there’s a real opportunity here to create something to treasure for a particular year group or organisation, which proud parents or participants will surely want to purchase.

Share your creativity with a waiting world and don’t be intimidated – remember the words of Pablo Picasso – “painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”

Why do artists make art books?

Let’s go back to where we started – highlighting the fact that not may of us can own a genuine work of art. However, if artists’ work is reproduced and collated in one magnificent book that is far more affordable, then it’s something that can also last a lifetime – and means their work can be shared with a far wider audience.


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