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Artists' Books & Mini-Comics: Home

Special Collectiomd

The Artists' Books & Mini-Comics Collection

The CCAD Artists' Books & Mini-Comics Collection consists of over 200 artists' books and mini-comics in a variety of subjects, styles, and media.

Artists' Books & MiniComics

A compendium of domestic incidents by Joanna Ruocco ; designed by Sarah McDermott
Cover of I want to take picture by Bill Burke
Good kitty! bad dog!! by Isabella Rotman and Mike Freiheit.
Take one and see Mt. Fujiyama, and other stories by Duane Michals.
Playing with Dada  by Franticham
The party by Warja Honegger Lavater
Swan Lake  by Ping Zhu

Making an appointment

Viewing Special Collections materials is by appointment only. Contact Christine Mannix (

Bring your CCAD ID card. If your item has a barcode we will "check out" the item. If it doesn't have a barcode, we will hold your ID. For security purposes, we request that you sit at the table across for the circulation desk. One book may be viewed at a time unless special permission is given to view multiple books.

Book handling 101: Wash your hands (no moisturizer, please); no food or drinks allowed; stow belongings; pencil and notebook or laptops only; photos without flash are allowed, but not photocopies. 

What is an Artists' Book?

What is an artists' book? Everybody seems to have their own definition, but traditionally, the book arts fall into several categories.

Artists' Books: The Smithsonian defines them as "a medium of artistic expression that uses the form or function of “book” as inspiration. It is the artistic initiative seen in the illustration, choice of materials, creation process, layout and design that makes it an art object." They can be handmade or machine made, unique or created in multiples.

Democratic Multiples: Democratic multiples are inexpensive artists’ books sold cheaply or even given away to as many people as possible. The term was attributed to Clive Phillpot who headed the Franklin Furnace collection, a collection of artists books produced after 1960. The website says it will "accept any multiple published by an artist as a work of art." In a practical sense, though, it isn’t truly democratic. While the price might have been low, they had limited distribution. And as Johanna Drucker points out, there is no guarantee that the content is accessible to everyone (thus, not democratic). Today, with the possibilities of the internet and print-on-demand, democratic multiples are being reinvented. 

Fine Press Books: Fine letterpress printing made up the bulk of the earliest European-style book art: it employed fine papers, a good design, and excellent printing, not unlike a livre d'artiste, but the content was and is often generated by the maker or in collaboration. It can be combined with other terms, such as fine press livre d'artiste, or fine press artist's book.

Livre d'Artiste: Book designed to hold images, usually prints or illustrations, by a famous artist. Picasso and Matisse were especially prolific makers of livres d'artistes.

Sculptural Books: Sculptural books are works of art that begin or end with the book form. In the former, books are often manipulated by dis-assembly and re-assembly to create new structures. The popular terms "hacked books" or "altered books" can also sometimes be used to describe the resulting structures, although these terms are generally applied to more crafted objects. For the latter, various materials are reinterpreted to form book-like structures. Brian Dettmer is a well-known maker of sculptural books.

Wikipedia has a very good beginner's overview of the history of the artists' book with plenty of references.

Sources: and

What is a Mini-Comic?

What is a Mini-Comic?

A mini-comic is small, inexpensive, short-run comic, often handmade by the creator. Typically they are about half-letter in size, since that's easiest to produce, but [our] collection (known as the Zine Garden) includes mini-comics that are the size of a matchbook to huge 11x17 handmade books and everything in between. (The Schulz Library, at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River, Vermont).

How do they differ from a Zine?

There are lots of similarities and overlap with zines, but zines can have any type of content, from poetry to collage to drawing to photography. Mini-comics are meant by their creators to fall into the comic genre.

How are they different from artists' books?

Many mini-zines use some of the same construction techniques and materials as artists' books, but again, the comics content is the main criterion for calling them mini-comics.

More on Artists' Books!

Check out our LibGuides on making artists' books: