Up until this past summer, I knew little to nothing about book arts, but I fell in love with it after my first book arts class. I loved everything about it: the letterpress, the book binding, the design process, and the result after all the hard work put in. My love of this grew stronger this semester taking the Typography class, and I had looked up some other book artists to see their styles. I think I got a bit overhyped when I heard there would be a book artist lecture.
To start off, I do think Phil Zimmerman’s work was very intriguing. I liked his idea to combine video and animation with the made book as well as the idea that every book is meant to read as a story. I had been unknowingly introduced to him before when I read Sanctus Sorensis (which I greatly enjoyed) at the Nevada Museum of Art downtown. I also like the feelings he greatly echoes out in his books such as Reaper, In Nature Of, and High Tension. Finally, I did like the idea behind Zimmerman’s latest book: Celsius 233.
However, I found myself looking at the works a bit more critically than normal, and I found I had some disappointments with a few of them. With how gorgeous and well-put Sanctus Sorensis had been, why did Celsius 233 seem like such a disappointment for me? I guess it was because I didn’t feel like enough effort was placed in the video side of the project while the book side was really outstanding. For a book that talked about book burning that happened around the world, why did the video only show the Third Reich? It took away the worldliness of the entire piece and brought it back to a “Hitler’s regime was just awful” state of mind. That in itself really disappointed me.
Also, this might be a personal opinion, but I believe that if you are calling yourself a “book artist,” you do every major thing yourself and get help when needed. Therefore, I was greatly disappointed when he said he always hired someone to manage the letterpress. It took away some of the authenticity of his art to me, and I found myself unhappy hearing that from him.
Overall, I wanted to like Phil Zimmerman’s portfolio, but I just found myself...disappointed. I loved the ideas behind it, but the execution could have been so much better.