Generative Measures: Research and Writing for Artist Books

The Ages of Peonies by Ellen Sheffield. A spread of one of Ellen's artist's books.
Ellen Sheffield
Image courtesy of the artist.

Event Info

This class will take place across three sessions:

  • Thursday, April 29th, 6-8pm EDT
  • Thursday, May 6th, 6-8pm EDT
  • Thursday, May 13th, 6-8pm EDT

This workshop will focus on non-traditional approaches to developing original content for artist’s books. A wide range of research tools will first be demonstrated to jump start ideas for projects. From these research seeds participants will respond to writing prompts and engage in experimental creative writing techniques to grow these ideas into prototypes for artist’s books. Processes will be taught for getting text onto the pages of simple folded book structures including alternative mark making, transfers, rub-on type, stencils, rubber stamps and pressure printing. This workshop is for visual artists who want to expand their writing skills and for writers who want to explore the artist book as a time-based medium and go beyond their usual writing practice.

There are a total of 12 spots open in this small-group workshop.

If you cannot comfortably pay tuition but are interested in taking this class, please consider filling out our financial assistance application here. We will notify you of your scholarship status before the start date of the class.

Required materials:

  • A dozen 3″x 5″ notecards
  • Pen or pencil
  • 6 to 8 sheets of 8.5″ x 11″ paper or a sketchbook w/ at least 8.5″ x 11″ size pages or larger
  • Two 11″ x17″ sheets of paper (can be copy paper)
  • Scissors or x-acto knife
  • Vintage and contemporary magazines for collage


  • Sheet of carbon paper
  • Alphabet rubber stamps and ink pad
  • Masking tape

About the Instructor

Ellen Sheffield’s works on paper and artist’s books use text and image intersections to create unexpected readings. Her interest in the juxtaposition of visual language: materials; design; mark-making; and printing processes, with written language: essays: poetry; and hybrid writing, continues to motivate art/word collaborations with Lewis Hyde, Fanny Howe, and Andrew Grace among others. Recently Ellen’s work explores themes of race and class in her rural community informed by research of local African-American history by her husband, Ric Sheffield, Kenyon College Professor of Sociology. Ellen’s studio, Unit IV Arts, is located in Gambier, OH, where she teaches in Kenyon’s Art Department. Her artist’s books have been collected by the Beinecke Library, Yale Collection of American Literature at Yale University, by the Ella Strong Denison Library at Scripps College and by many others.

All images courtesy of the instructor.

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