Looking Back – A Review Of My Last Year

"Time", artist book by H. Kurzke, 2008

Another year has almost passed. Although we can say that about any time of the year – on 20th of May it’s been a year since it was last May 20th after all. The traditional family gathering makes the passage of time especially tangible. My godchild was a 4 month old baby last year, and now she is a -so I am told- quite demanding toddler which I am especially looking forward to seeing this Christmas.

Thus reminded of the passage of time, for me it is also the time to look back and see what I accomplished professionally, in the field of book and book arts during the last year.

My biggest hope for this year was to establish an income from selling journals that could support – if not my living, then at least the expenses for making both journals and art. Well, at this moment it looks like that did not quite work out, and I am closing my books with a deficit. I wonder whether the financial crisis has had any impact on my sales. I figure that handbound books are luxury articles for customers with an average income, and those were effected most by the crisis. On the other hand my average turnover increased over the whole year, with a breakdown only during the summer. Therefore I have good hopes that in the next year I can be profitable.

blank journals with the "new" Coptic headbands

Taking traveling and hotel costs into account, the biggest expense in the last year was the workshop I took with Nina. But it was also one of the two pivotal events during the last year that fired my productivity and made a lasting impression. Therefore I don’t regret this investment in the least.  One outcome of these trips to Amsterdam was my discovery of new ways to make Coptic headbands, and my book “Six Ways to Make Coptic Headbands” which turned out my best seller during this year. I sold it to a broad variety of book binders, to those who never made headbands before, as well as to experts in the field, including to me delight Peter Verheyen.

The other important event for me was my visit in Bristol in February, meeting Sarah Bodman at UWE, and Julian Warren at Arnolfini. From both I learned so much about the book arts. Beside many actual pieces of information, the realization how ignorant I am of the (European) book art scene was the most important part of my learning. It made me look more thoroughly at other artist’s work which turned out a well of insight and inspiration. Looking at these books, though often a humbling experience, just as often made me run into my studio and create right away.

"to touch and to cut" and piece of book art by H. Kurzke, 2009

I started into the year 2008 with finishing my “flying books“, a grand mobile, and I took my modern Nag Hammadi interpretation with me on my visit in Bristol. But these were still rooted in the year before which was marked by experiments with different materials. Influenced by my visit in Bristol, 2008 has been a year of small editions for me: In February and March I made the Smiley Oracle, with which I am proud to be represented through Vamp & Tramp. In April I made “to touch and to cut“, a mini book showing the complexity and beauty of simple geometry – and my best selling artwork so far, and finally I only recently finished the Awful German Language Pamphlet.

a tunnel book by H. Kurzke, 2009

Initiated by a flag book swap between the bookbinding team members on Etsy, I started to investigate anew depth perception in books, and studied tunnel books in the second half of this year. (A topic that already moved me when I made the “books with holes” two years before.) One outcome of this investigation were two book objects which I call book tunnels, – but this is unfinished work, a thread which I intend to pick up in the next year.

In September most of my art projects were put to a halt, and my busy phase with making a lot of blank journals and preparing for the Holiday season started. The only other project I still pursued was the said Awful German Language Pamphlet which, after finishing the lino cuts, was also a craft, not an art project. I slightly complained here in an earlier post about too much work to do, to much stress during that time. And I realize now that this was caused by me taking not enough time for my art. I was going through my days always with the thought: Just finish these two journals/fill out this form/write this php-script/ … and then I’ll have time for art. And the time never came. It was like trying to be done with house cleaning or doing the laundry once and for all before I would do anything else. Therefore my most important plan for the next year, is a more balanced time management.

My new Series of Travel Journals

A great pleasure to make, and I feel an accomplishment of the last weeks of making blank journals, was the development of my first line of journals which I am going to keep available for customers who like to have a series of similar journals on their shelf. You see the first books on the left.

So what do I learn from this, and what are my plans for the next year?

I want to distribute my time more evenly, taking time at least a whole day a week for art, and a whole day a week for craft. I want to learn more about different types of binding, and continue experimenting with new forms. I’ll have to participate more actively in the local art scene (something I find especially hard, since I expect to be moving again any time; but I’ll have to remind me that this is important). And I want to read and learn more about the theory of book arts.

Last but not least, I want to express my gratitude towards you: Your comments on my blog(s) have been a pleasure, provided comfort, and made me hang on to making books. When preparing this post I browsed through all the names which appeared in the comments section during the last year, and it filled me with joy to see so many different ones appearing again and again over all the time. Thank you for being faithful readers!

I wish you all the best for the new year, and I hope to welcome you here again in January!

6 replies on “Looking Back – A Review Of My Last Year”

  1. Well done, Hilke! Like so many, I, too find myself “too busy” with “too many projects” and I have vowed that 2010 will be my year of doing fewer things, but spending more time on the things I want to improve.
    I look forward to seeing more of your intriguing books and the appoach you take to some of them.
    Happy Christmas and a productive New Year.

  2. I have lots of reading to catch up on in your blog but I take this opportunity to congratulate you on the wonderful work you have produced this past year. You are a most generous blogger and I really appreciate your posts. All the very best for Christmas and the coming year. Carol xx

  3. “And the time never came.” How well I know that feeling myself! I hope you-and the rest of us creative types-get a better grip on this time management thing in the months ahead…

    And I’d like to second what Carol said. You are a most generous blogger. Danke.

    Ein gutes neues Jahr!

  4. Hi Hilke

    It is amazing how much happens in just one year, how ideas change as skills improve. I made a list earlier in the year of the different binding styles I now knew how to achive and was surprised at how many there were. You have a wonderful blog and your tutorials are excellent. I have plans to try several of them out next year.

    Wishing you every sucess for your plans for 2010

    Billie 🙂

  5. You have much to be proud of in bookmaking for 2009. Thanks for sharing your books, your efforts, and your generosity over the year. I hope 2010 brings you many blessings.

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