Artists' Book as a Pedagogue

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by Shubhshree Mathur on Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Session type

Technical level


The session is about exploring an experiential genre of books for the purpose of facilitating design/art learning. Any design practitioner, student, educator or researcher will be able to relate to it in terms of learning methods while common bibliophiles and logophiles will be able to wander in the varied possibilities of the genre in terms of content and concepts.


Is book a mere object or an idea? Do we read it or experience it? What is a book beyond its pages? Is reading a book academic or experiential or both? What is the difference between narration and experience? Such inquisitiveness can only perpetuate in the mind of a book lover who seeks his beloved beyond this tangible world. An artist’s book might be the answer to such abstractness which we often confuse with absurdity. It is a conceptual playground for an artist, bound in the pages, unbound in time. Reading an artists’ book is not reading as we know it, but experiencing the thought process of an artist in person. It is not ruined by numbers and is literally “an open book” which does not dictate the terms of reading. It serves as food for curiosity of the reader but generates even more of it simultaneously. This prevailing sense of discovery triggers the birth of ideas and inspiration. Design/Art pedagogy functions majorly on the development of inspiration. A teacher is not an instructor but a facilitator for initiating the learning process. That is the reason as to why learning/teaching methods devised for design pedagogy are improvised each day, growing more innovative, laying emphasis on thinking and imagination power. It appears that an artists’ book is a manifestation of such flamboyance requisite for design pedagogy. It aligns itself perfectly to the motives of idea creation, hike in imagination and self empowerment. And since a book is a more intimate medium, the reader instantly feels at home in its space. This lack of inhibition generates confidence and freedom of thought. Basically, an artists’ book doesn’t reflect the scares of a formal curriculum, but can inventively solve the purpose of one.

Speaker bio

A self-diagnosed bibliophile…
Having a background of design and literature and the “condition” mentioned above, I find myself writing concepts, scribbling random thoughts and doodles about some great book I am yet to make, here and there. Up till now along with pursuing this passion, I have also ventured into the arenas of branding , storytelling, education, research and writing for last 2-3yrs now. It might be the “condition” speaking, but I believe that a book is more than and beyond its pages. And I am always on a lookout for like minded people to work with.
I have done Masters in Design in research and design for books and publishing, from NIFT, Mumbai. Apart from this I have dual bachelors degree as well. I am B.A Honors in Design from Pearl Academy and then went on to do B.A in English Literature.
Hoping you are still with me, I would like to elaborate further. I am a avid reader & a poet. I have worked under the umbrella of Graphics at NIFT, my focus being research and concept development in book arts and design. During this 2yr course I have always been eager to do more and learn more outside the curriculum. Consequently I took up many freelance industry projects which provided me valuable insights on production processes, client handling etc. I was a part of a venture called “Studio 205 - Learning centre for kids outside school” in Jaipur, where I contributed right from conceptualization of the project to research and designing of the course structure, curriculum and activities for kids. One of the projects I did was for SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai, Dept. of Human Development. This project in collaboration with a psychology researcher required me to design a set of 12 books for kids (age 4-6yrs). This project was quite demanding as compared to others because I worked on multiple things – concept, content, illustrations and layout. Recently I also finished illustrating a book for Pratham Books titled “Daal Ka Dana”. Apart from this my poetic work has also been published by The Poetry Society India in their anthology titled ” Poetry India: Voyages of Hope and Healing”. Recently I also designed an anthology of poetry (cover, layout and illustrations).