art books

Art Books: How to Self Publish a Great One

Salmaan Ahmad

Salmaan Ahmad

September 18, 2023

If you’re a visual artist, you may not have given much thought to self publishing. Are art books a good option for self publishing? Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, there are good reasons to self publish art books showcasing your work. In this article, we’ll look at the process of art books self publishing, discuss the types of art books you might want to publish, and offer tips for success.

What Are Art Books?

The first thing you need to answer is, “What is an art book?” When it comes to art book self publishing, the term can refer to four different book types.

  • Artist’s showcase: Like a portfolio, this book is used to show the artist’s best works or to gather several of those works under a uniting theme. The work in the book might be paintings, photos, fashion designs, interior decoration, fabric design, quilts, handcrafts, or other works of visual art.
  • Showcase of various artists: This is like the artist’s individual showcase, but it features works by several different artists in the same medium. Alternatively, it could be works in various artistic media that all relate to a single topic or theme.
  • Coffee table book: This is a popular type of art book. Designed for use in home décor, the large, attractively bound book is a literary and visual homage to a person, place, or historical era. You can find coffee table books on a wide variety of subjects.
  • Artist book: In this type of work, an artist creates a work of art that is in the form of a book. This might be a small, handcrafted, hand-bound edition that uses traditional bookbinding techniques. The artist may produce only one or at most a handful of these small, specialty books. These books are usually bought by collectors. They are also known as artisanal books.

In this article, we’ll focus on the first three in art books self publishing.

Why Publish Art Books?

There are good reasons to self publish art books. The book will help document your work and market it. The process of art books self publishing is a rewarding, creative act that will help you develop new skills.

Create a lasting portfolio of your work

Every artist needs a representative sampling of their work. How do you show your work to potential customers? If your studio is filled with paintings or photos, art books are a wonderful way to organize them. Is your craft room overflowing with fabric scraps and half-finished pieces? Show off your best, finished pieces in art books.

An artist book is more professional and more attractive than a standard paper portfolio binder or an online portfolio. While these are all important when promoting your work, a book stands apart as a finished, portable product that you can take everywhere. It shows a serious commitment to your art and a desire to share it with the world. Long after your gallery showing or other formal display, your book can bring ongoing attention to your art.

Find an agent

Working with an artist’s representative can boost your visibility. It’s a great way to find new buyers for your art, especially if you’re looking to get into the lucrative artist merchandising market. When you look for an agent, you will stand out with a published book of your work.

Reach your fans

Art books self publishing is a wonderful way to share your work with fans, supporters, and friends.

Do you have fans who love your artwork but can’t afford to buy originals? Let them know they can support you by purchasing an affordably priced book. They’ll still get to enjoy your work, and you’ll get something for your efforts.

A published copy of your book makes a wonderful gift for anyone who supported your artistic efforts. Thank them with a beautiful, signed book that shows your gratitude.

Market your work

Once you have your artwork organized in a single, bound book, you will find it easier to market your work. You can take copies of your book to art shows, conventions, local galleries, and other places where you want to make a connection.

Create a family memoir

Do you have a family member who’s an artist? Display your pride in them with a book that shows off their work. This type of art book may not reach anyone outside the family, but it makes a wonderful memoir that you can pass on to later generations.

Self Publish Art Books: 6 Steps to Success

1. Plan your art books

Before you begin art book self publishing, start with careful, thorough planning. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the book a showcase or is it based on a particular theme?
  • How many pages will my book be?
  • Who will write the text?
  • Which images best represent my work and the topic of the book?
  • What binding do I want for my book?

This plan will pay off when you start assembling your art book. Art book self publishing is a time-intensive project, and it’s easy to get distracted when you start working. A careful plan will keep you focused.

2. Write the text

An art book may be primarily about images, but it will need some text. Most art books need:

  • Title
  • Introduction
  • Picture captions
  • Acknowledgements
  • Copyright page

You may want to write these elements of the text yourself, or you may wish to hire a writer who specializes in penning captions and other elements of an art book.

The introduction is important. Most people who buy your book will read it to get a sense of what your book is about, why you produced it, and what to expect from you as an artist.

The introduction should be several paragraphs long. It should cover:

  • Who you are—as an artist and person.
  • Where you get your inspiration.
  • Something about your background and history.
  • What’s in the book.
  • Why you chose to self publish an art book.
  • What the reader can expect when they turn the pages.

Some artists choose others to write the introduction. The best choice might be another artist, a museum curator, an arts educator, or someone else who’s in the art world.

On the other hand, maybe your writer should be someone who’s an expert in the subject of your book. If you’re showcasing your food photographs, for instance, a chef or other culinary expert might be a good choice. Try to think creatively when choosing a good introduction writer.

3. Do the layout and design

Layout and design are important in any book, but they’re especially important in an art book. When you self publish an art book, the last thing you want is to look amateurish.

You can use a template as a starting point to lay out your book. Most graphic design software packages have templates and other settings that make it relatively easy to create an attractive art book.

If you aren’t comfortable using this software or don’t want to take the time to learn layout—after all, time is limited, and we’re all busy—hiring a book designer is a good choice. A professional book design is an investment that will pay off with a book whose sophisticated, elegant layout is the perfect backdrop for your art.

4. Be selective

When you choose the art pieces for your book, be very picky. Try to choose pieces that most people agree are your best. Include anything that won an award or other special notice. Although it may be difficult, avoid selecting pieces that only have sentimental value for you, for instance, unless they also stand as excellent examples of your work. It can be helpful to get a second opinion or two on which pieces should be in the book.

5. Pick a paper and binding style

As part of your layout, choose the book’s orientation, binding style, and paper. If you want a truly professional-looking book, hire a book editor who can choose the cover art, binding style, trim, and fonts. The book editor will also edit and proofread the text.

6. Work with a professional printer

Getting your book published is a thrilling experience, but only if the final product matches your dreams and expectations. When you self publish an art book, it’s important to work with a professional printing company who will turn those expectations into reality.

Show the World Your Best Work

Art book self publishing is an excellent way to gather, organize, and showcase your work. When you’re ready to print your art book, contact Publishing Xpress, the experts in self-published books.

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