In today’s post I would like to introduce our Featured Artist of the month, for October 2009
I discovered her work thanks to the Book Arts Forum but for those of you who haven’t yet found Hilke, or Buechertiger as she is more often known on line, here is a little more about her and her work.
Who you are:
My name is Hilke but I am often known online as Beuchertiger.
Where you are (which country you are based in)?
I am living and working in Bonn, Germany. That’s a small town at the river Rhine, that was the seat of Government until reunification. I moved here two years ago from Berlin, where I had been living for just one year. – I have been moving around quite a lot in the last years.
Bonn has a little more than 300 thousand inhabitants, but feels like a much smaller town. Maybe one could describe it as neat: the houses in the inner city have no more than 3 floors, the streets are narrow and very clean. It was quite a change from Berlin Friedrichshain where I lived before, the home of punks and left wing activists. And while I enjoy some of the advantages of Bonn, for example that I can do almost everything by foot, I’m looking forward to moving on again.
What you do:
I make books and book art: My blank books serve as journals, sketch or note books, poetry books, guest books, photo albums, diaries, and more. I sell them in my shop on Etsy. With my art I am mainly investigating books themselves, their function and reception. These works are partly available through Etsy, too. But you’ll get a more complete impression by checking my home page.
What got you started in your creative journey?
That’s really a hard question to answer – Probably my birth? I don’t want to go too far back in my personal history and only tell you how I came to work only with books for the last month:
After finishing my phd one and a half years ago I bound my thesis by hand. I only needed about 20 copies, ten for the library and ten for me, friends, and family. Without a conscious decision at first, once I picked this old love of making books, I continued with making some journals for various people, bound some free ebooks, and simply continued binding about a book a day. I applied for jobs, but I didn’t want to do any of them, once I met with the people there for the job interview. And so I decided to take a step back and find out more about who I am, trying to get involved with books and art, before committing myself to a career that I maybe not really want to follow.
During the past year, making books has been my only occupation (well, and applying for grants and shows, organizing the book keeping, and all the organizational stuff that comes with working freelance). For the first time I had enough time and space to think clearly about books, and not just made some blanks under the pressure of having to finish the book before Christmas. And when I discovered the world of book artists and book makers in the internet, the journey into the realm of book arts really started.
What inspires you:
Usually when I see something that I like I begin thinking about how it could be included into the design of a book. This could be just anything. Sometimes am moved and inspired by nature or people. But thinking about it, I realize that it’s more often made objects, pieces of another person’s thoughts and work that catches my attention. I like to take long walks to think things through and sort my ideas, but they are not primarily sources of inspiration.
I’ll give you a fictional example, to explain to you how my brain works:
For example, three dimensionality has been important theme in my work from the very beginning. The first piece of book art that I made is “Tauchgang”. I made this piece of art before I had seen other people’s work, and especially before I had seen any tunnel books, a structure with which it was often compared. From front cover to the last page each has a hole in it – and this is its main feature. It is meant to look like a water-filled cave. It can be leafed through, of course. If you do so, you’ll find pencil marks, and instructions to myself on the backsides of the pages: just as if you took a look at the stage from the back. Since then I made other “books with a hole”; “the creature nightmare” only has text no images, others only have images. Also to “touch and to cut”, one of my two books that come in an edition, plays with threedimensionality: The pages of this book are translucent and can be seen all at once, and only then you can see the true message of the book.
Threedimensionality in books is something that I am interested in per se.
Now sometimes when I look around me I see, say, a fly stuck to the side of a glass of jam, and I might think: This would be great as a 3D book, and it would be about vanity and pathetic deaths. When I am later in my studio working on a different project and this image sticks to me, I begin thinking about how exactly such a book would look like. Later that day maybe I see someone making a book with an interesting non-rectangular shape. Liking the idea, I connect it with the fly-book that also still occupies my mind. And maybe in the end, I turn up with a round, jam-glass-shaped book with images that are horizontal slices of a fly painted by smearing jam over the page.
If money,time and obligations were no object, what you would most like to do?
I would continue to make books, but I would travel more than I can afford now. I’d visit people all over the world and learn from them as much as I can. Then I would settle down and set up a proper studio. Maybe this would be in Minneapolis or St Paul, or in some other city that I visited in my journeys and liked. Or maybe I’ll appreciate this city more after all the traveling and would set it up simply in the empty shop that I pass every day here in Bonn. I would have at least one printing press, and I would buy a lot of bookbinding tools.
It would be a workshop in the true sense of the word: a shop where I work. In the front I would have wooden shelves that hold the finished works and can be bought there. It would have a super comfy red couch where I would serve tea to all visitors who bring some time to chat about this and that. – You see, I got it all planned out. And who knows, maybe I will make enough money one day to pay the rent of such a workshop – then I’ll get started right away.
What do you enjoy most about your creative work/life?
This is truly the hardest of all your question to answer! I have always been creative, it’s like you asked me what I like about breathing air. Instead I will answer the question what I like about working self employed as I did in the past year.
What I enjoy most is that I can be completely myself. I don’t have to pretend to know everything, I don’t have to prove anything, to anyone. In my previous job I felt a lot like playing poker: Never let the others know what and whether you got up your sleeve, and what you truly know and understand. – Especially when lacking knowledge and understanding.
Despite the necessity of pretense in my other jobs, I always have been working creatively – not always to the pleasure of the people around me. When I was teaching in school, one of my pupils, in a class of 14 years olds, explicitely complained “can’t we just once do *normal* school?!” when I explained what we were going to do at the beginning of the lesson.
That makes me realize: I like about my current occupation as an artist that the outcome of my work and creativity only depends on myself, and not on the willingness of, say, my students.
To find out more about Hilke and her work, please visit her blog and website, details below.
Hilke: On my homepage you can find more information about me and my work. You find it at http://buechertiger.de.
I am also blogging, the blog can be found at http://blog.buechertiger.de.
Since recently I am also twittering – under my real name http://twitter.com/hilkekurzke
You’ll also find me on Etsy, DaWanda, and Flickr – just search for “buechertiger” and you’ll find me.
Thanks to Hilke for being our Featured Artist of the Month for October 2009.
Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon