Renowned artist and curator educates Brock on Artist Books


Bernhard Cella, an Austrian artist and curator, held a lecture and workshop at Brock for self-publishing and the world of books. Cella has held a career that focuses on artist books and has been an advocate for the creation of these books for years. Artist books are works of art that are presented in the format of a book.

Cella has advocated for these works, stating that a well-made artist book can be as impactful as a trip to a museum. Cella graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, and University of Fine Arts Hamburg and worked with the Center of Art and Knowledge Transfer on the No-ISBN (International Standard Book Number) project. No-ISBN was a project for examining novels and books that had an ISBN number and that did not.

An ISBN is assigned to a book as a sort of identification number. This started as simply SBN (Standard Book Number) in Dublin Ireland and was only nine digits. It was later adapted into the ISBN and a 10th digit was added. Finally, in 2007 three additional digits were added due to the growing number of books that had been written, bringing each ISBN post-January 2007 to 13 digits. Cella’s research involved looking at what kind of books did not have an ISBN number and why.

The lecture and workshop at Brock by Cella were largely based around the same topic. Cella introduced the idea of the artist book and explained that a book can be more than simply a fictional or nonfictional novel. Even citing Kim Kardashian’s photographic memoir Selfish as one book that is only photographs.

During the workshop Cella walked attendees through what the construction of a book or part of a book entailed, which processes were the most difficult and how the process could differ from publishing a novel. One of the largest differences is that the amount of publishing houses for books that aren’t novels are small. This is why Cella focused so heavily on self-publishing and what an author, artist or photographer could do for themselves.

When speaking on self-publishing there were three main ideas focused upon. These were content craft, and contacts. When content, it was primarily about what ideas a creator had. Craft was tied to how those ideas were implemented. While these were primarily the two most common ideas when it came to publishing a novel, Cella pointed out that contacts were just as important. However, contacts were something more broad than simply ‘who do you know?’ Instead, it was more focused on knowing an audience and retailers. Who would want to sell this book, should it be popular? Was it the kind of novel that would be stocked on the shelves of a local Chapter or Indigo? Or would it fit nicely into a local store that focuses on selling Canadian content.

Look to The Brock Press for more coverage on any and all workshops, lectures, or anything else interesting going on around campus.

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