Gita Wolf: The Art of Book Making


I’ve taken pieces of this from one of Shelf Awareness’s articles last week. Here is the link to the original article, which has more information and pictures than I was interested in saving and uploading here.

The eye-catching titles and artwork from Tara Books is utterly amazing and even more so to those of us who know how big publishing houses work versus Tara’s production. “I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail” is based on a 17th-century poem and illustrated by Ramsingh Urveti in the traditional Gond style from central India. It is gorgeous. But that’s not what makes the book amazing.

What’s so special about Tara books is, they’re handmade. Gita Wolf’s “The Very Hungry Lion,” painted in the Warli style from western India, has sold more than 49,000 copies, all of which were made one at a time. Tara also recycles misprints as “flukebooks.” These are unique notebooks (none are identical) for $11.99. Can we say early Christmas shopping? I thought we could.

Tara books and Gita Wolf are on a mission to save the art of bookmaking. Together with her collective of artisans, Wolf is establishing a Center for the Book Arts in Chennai. The center will house a gallery, a bookstore and work space for artists. Makes me want to move to Chennai.

The Great Race, coming in June 2012, by Nathan Kumar Scott,will use the Mata-ni-Pachedi painting style from Gujarat. It is the first time this style of artwork will have ever been seen in a book format. In the future, Tara Books plans to work with artists in Mexico’s Mayan community and presumably other ethnic peoples.

For obvious reasons, Tara Books titles have won the Bologna Ragazzi Award twice. Tara is not about the mass production of reading material, but about the art of each book. When books are made with such love and devotion, they become cherished items. In a world that’s increasingly widening the gap between those who are educated (or financially capable of education) and those who are not, what can be more important than cherished knowledge and thought?

I LOVED this whole concept. What about you?

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10 Responses to “Gita Wolf: The Art of Book Making”

  1. Donna Hole says:

    Yeah, I like book covers that depict the novel; something personal.

    ……..dhole

  2. JohnD says:

    Wow, 49,000 by hand? My hand hurts just thinking about that.

  3. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks, Donna and yeah, I know, John. Amazing. ;D

  4. Rachna Chhabria says:

    Gita Wolf and her publishing house are quite well-known in India, Victoria.

  5. Victoria Dixon says:

    I hoped and figured they must be. 49,000 copies of one book speaks to success! Thanks, Rachna!

  6. Giora says:

    With all due respect to Tara and gita, I found the cover made by your husband to be more amazing. Especially the body of the Dragon, looking like an artwork of knitting. About making every copy by hand, I wonder if it's economical … it takes so much time.

  7. DWei says:

    It looks interesting but if I published a book I don't think I'd be tempted to use these.

  8. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thank you so much for the sweet compliment, Giora! I'll make sure to tell him you said so. It'll make his day.

    I understand what you and DWei are saying, but even so, there's something that appeals to me about the concept of making LAYERED works of art. A work of art out of a work of art. And I love the idea of someone else caring enough about my work to go to such extremes. That said, they appear to do mostly children's books, which is not where my focus tends to lean. Sigh.

  9. web design services says:

    In my opinion it is one of the most interesting and difficult work to create designs and art for books because your design will be the reflection of the book therefore, it should be perfect.

  10. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks, web design. 🙂

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