My Path of Creating 1st Artist book “Renjishi” — #4 Like a Boiled Crab

My Path of Creating 1st Artist book “Renjishi” — #4 Like a Boiled Crab

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My Path of Creating 1st Artist book “Renjishi” — #1 A Picture with Wormholes
My Path of Creating 1st Artist book “Renjishi” — #2 What is the “Right” Way of Taking Pictures?
My Path of Creating 1st Artist book “Renjishi” — #3 To the Radio Sounds

In 2018, I visited Kinosaki in Hyogo prefecture for an assigned job. This onsen (hot spring) town is popular among tourists both from Japan and overseas.

One of the town’s experiments is the “Books and Onsen” project.
Well-known authors wrote new novels set in Kinosaki, and their books have been exclusive to be sold to visitors coming to this place. Their book designs are also unique. One of the bookbindings is a print that is reminiscent of boiled crab legs. Another one customizes as an onsen book that uses waterproof papers to read this while taking a bath.
What a creative idea!
The book design of “Kinosaki e kaeru (Return to Kinosaki)” by Kanae Minato attracted me, and I ended up buying it.


This is a story about my path of creating my first artist book “Renjishi” with an eight-part series.

Since I started my book creation, whenever I get books that interest me, I have got into the habits of checking bookbindings and detailed design decisions, such as;
Why is this book designed for this size and shape?
Probably the paper type is …, the paper thickness (weight) is around …kg, or so. Doesn’t it show-through?
How is the back of the book layout? How do they write an acknowledgment page?

For the photo layout, I used Adobe InDesign software. Once the layout was done, I created a handmade sample called a dummy book. Then by turning each page, I found out things that need to be revised.

I was not good at this overall editing and compiling process.
Every time I reviewed, I found out too many revised points, put sticky notes on each, and then redo it.
I feel like it goes on forever.

“Hand bookbinding has a warm feeling, hasn’t it?” people said.
“Yeah, it’s deep, hehe,” I replied.
While I smiled at people who met outside with less explanation, I put my brain into full gear, trying to edit every night at home.
Through my book creation process, I truly realized the professionalism of people with whom I usually work, such as writers, designers, editors, book designers, and other more professionals in each field, and respect them.

To create a book, make a minimum unit of parts called “orichou (signature),” which are printed sheets folded into around twice to six times to become part of a book’s pages. Each sheet consists of a multiple of 4 pages, such as 8 or 16 pages. Stack the folded sheets like puff pastry layers, then sew the folded edge together for bookbinding.


I remember somebody mentioned that changed signatures with each subject. I would try to change signatures based on the storyline, such as slowly moving on and suddenly jumping forward with this hint. Then, I would try to divide the story into chapters by each signature.

The conversation with Tammy Law, a Brisbane, Australia-based photographer and the author of the artist photobook “Permission To Belong,” also gave me a hint. We are the same participants in the 2017 RPS "Photobook as object" workshop. When I asked her for an opinion about the text size, she suggested adjusting it along with Fumiko’s real voice.

It is interesting to grasp text as a voice, and that makes sense to me. What about tone, besides the volume of voice? What about the font? — it might be a good idea to use a font used in her girlhood when she read books the most, so it would indicate her background in terms of age and could be an element to show her personality.

I had less experience editing and creating ideas. In the ocean of editing, I had nothing but struggle to collect hints from people around me and apply these to my book creation and move forward.
Yet, the more I made mistakes, the more I felt improving my book by caring about small details and having every reason to do so.

“I’m going out tonight.”
I said that to my family and went to a local convenience store at midnight, which is the least busy time to use a printer. When I want to check my images in a hurry, I use a laser printer. Even though the color appears slightly different from the actual images, it was still helpful to print out so fast. As editing goes, I have naturally decided to use nine types of papers in my book and use laser and inkjet printers. I have created over 20 dummy books, which embody my passion and progress.

In the darkness with no end in sight.
Do I move on? Do I get back?
I didn’t expect the day would come that the light shines on me from a world of 9000 km (about 5600 miles) away.


(Translated by Harumi Masugo)

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