Unfolding Narratives: Writing for Artist Books 2022

An open pamphlet with a blue tinted image printed across the spread. There is a sentence typed across the spread at the top of the page.
Ellen Sheffield
Image courtesy of the artist.

Event Info

This virtual workshop takes place virtually on Zoom across three sessions on Tuesdays February 8, 15, & 22 from 6–8pm ET. Registration closes on Tuesday, February 1.

  • Tues, Feb 8 6–8pm ET
  • Tues, Feb 15 6–8pm ET
  • Tues, Feb 22, 6–8pm ET

About the Workshop:

In this three-session virtual course for creative writers with Instructor Ellen Sheffield, students will learn how to generate text for artist books using conceptual techniques including “text as image,” “text as narrative,” and “text as lyrical expression.”

Participants will also experiment with typographic systems, text itineraries as well as Dada and Surrealist approaches.

Sheffield will demonstrate various artistic methods for rendering text like mark making, transfers, stencils, stamps, rub-on type. Students will have the chance to apply these techniques in a simple accordion-structured book of their own making.

Please note that this course includes writing exercise assignments that students will need to complete outside of class.

Class size is limited to ensure an optimal student-to-teacher ratio. Register now before the remaining spots fill up!

Required Materials:

  • 3 x 5 notecards (a dozen)
  • Sketchbook or 8″ x 10″ copy paper (two dozen sheets)
  • Notebook + writing implements
  • Scissors
  • UHU glue stick
  • Old magazines and newspapers for collage
  • 11″ x 17″ medium weight paper (2 sheets)

Optional Materials:

  • Alphabet rubber stamps, stencils
  • Colored pencils and/or markers
  • A few sheets of tracing paper
  • Carbon paper
  • Read the text in the book Format by Keith A. Smith, 2nd edition, 1995
  • Read Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud, 1993

See if any of the materials are available in CBA’s shop–>

About the Instructor

Ellen Sheffield’s works on paper and artist’s books combine text and image in unexpected ways. Her interest in juxtaposing visual techniques—materials, design, mark-making, and printing processes—with written language—essays, poetry, and hybrid writing—drives Sheffield’s collaborations with other artists and writers including Lewis Hyde, Fanny Howe, and Andrew Grace.

Recently Sheffield’s work has explored themes of race and class in Gambier, OH—the rural community she lives in. Her work is informed in part by research into local African American history completed by her husband, Ric Sheffield—a Kenyon College Professor of Sociology.

Sheffield teaches at Kenyon College in the Art Department and runs the studio Unit IV Arts. Her artist’s books have been collected by the Beinecke Library, Yale Collection of American Literature at Yale University, the Ella Strong Denison Library at Scripps College, and many others.


All images courtesy of the instructor. 

Class size is limited to ensure an optimal student-to-teacher ratio. Registration closes on Tuesday, February 1.

Registration is closed. Return to all Classes.

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