There are a lot of things a book artist must consider when laying out and designing a book--the typeface, the spacing, the size of the type, the alignment, the thickness and color of the paper, and more. And because text from books is the medium from which I am creating these paintings, all of these elements impact the final product.
For example, I know that fonts which have serifs are easier to read because each letter has a tiny stroke that leads the eye from one letter to the next. Because it facilitates ease of reading, the body type of most books is a serif type, whereas sans serif fonts are very clean and are often used for titles and dividers since they effectively slow the eye and keep it from moving on to the next word. The difference can be seen below. (Perhaps I should consider the default choice of a sans serif font for the body type of this blog...)
In much the same way textual idiosyncrasies impact the reading experience, I have discovered that they also impact the experience of viewing my text-based art. For example, the text from Breakfast at Tiffany's is much larger with more space between the words, letters, and lines than the text from Joyce's Ulysses, and the paper of the first is lighter and thicker than the second.
As I work on each of these text generated images, a pattern has revealed itself to me. First I make a fairly simple black line drawing which basically locates features and shadows on the canvas. This is usually an easily recognizable, if not very well developed, study. The next step, covering the entire face with text, results pretty much in the destruction of the image. The third step, applying color with an acrylic wash, brings the image back into focus so to speak, and the fourth step is to fine-tune the details and correct minor mistakes. For example, in the third photo below, I immediately note that the space between Hepburn's eyes is too wide and too triangular in shape. Other alterations will include placing and adjusting shadows, w few white highlights. The outcome remains to be seen.
A well known contemporary example of ergodic literature is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewsky. Its format, structure, page layout and style are all unconventional. The book contains many different fonts, a variety of colors, words placed vertically and horizontally and at other angles, footnotes, footnotes within footnotes, and many other unusual stylistic devices. (See examples below.)
I am always interested to see how viewers react when first exposed to my text paintings. Most people are familiar enough with the various titles to be able to pick out words, phrases and names that identify the source. Some viewers are irritated, however, because they can't simply start reading at the top left and make their way across and down the canvas. They don't like the fact that the text strips end mid sentence, or that they don't always connect in ways that make traditional sense. Either way, viewers generally spend time interacting with the work. What more could I ask?
I will close today with a delightfully appropriate quote from Mark Twain--
"Ideally a book would have no order to it, and the reader would have to discover his own."