Ten Books Recycled for Art

These artists give books a second life as beautiful works of art, converting everything from outdated computing books to children’s classics into visual masterpieces, all using little more than a scalpel and some imagination. In no particular order (they’re too awesome to rank) here are ten artworks created from old books:


“Pandora Opens Box” by Sue Blackwell.

It is the delicacy, the slight feeling of claustrophobia, as if these characters, the landscape have been trapped inside the book all this time and are now suddenly released. A number of the compositions have an urgency about them, the choices made for the cut-out people from the illustrations seem to lean towards people on their way somewhere, about to discover something, or perhaps escaping from something. And the landscapes speak of a bleak mystery, a rising, an awareness of the air.


A landscape created out of cut up paper by Scottish artist Georgia Russell.


One of the masterfully crafted book landscapes from Canadian interdisciplinary artist (and part time anthropologist) Guy Laramée.

We are currently told that the paper book is bound to die. The library, as a place, is finished. One might ask so what? Do we really believe that “new technologies” will change anything concerning our existential dilemma, our human condition? And even if we could change the content of all the books on earth, would this change anything in relation to the domination of analytical knowledge over intuitive knowledge? What is it in ourselves that insists on grabbing, on casting the flow of experience into concepts?


Almost like a dissection taken from the medical textbooks its artist carves into, this sculpture comes from “The Book Surgeon,” aka American artist Brian Dettmer


Another of Dettmer’s pieces. His focus is on scientific and medical texts, lending his artwork an intellectual precision as well as a technical one.


An ink illustration by Australian artist Loul Jover, painted onto a school Science book.


Maskull Laserre took a handful of obsolete computing books as material for his carved skull above. Perhaps some commentary on the swift mortality of our technology? Probably just because skulls look pretty damn cool.



“Kaleidoscope,” a photograph by artist Cara Barer.

From the press release: “In an age of when the Internet is quickly becoming the primary source of information, Barer’s photographs act as a lament for the passing of an era when books were considered a pathway to knowledge.”


Another incredibly intricate piece from Sue Blackwell, whose work is too good not to reference twice in this list. This one, “The Baron in the Trees” (adapted from the novel of the same name), has amazing detail in the tiny clothes line and umbrella hanging from the forest canopy. The artist writes of her work,

Paper has been used for communication since its invention; either between humans or in an attempt to communicate with the spirit world. I employ this delicate, accessible medium and use irreversible, destructive processes to reflect on the precariousness of the world we inhabit and the fragility of our life, dreams and ambitions.


And lastly, a work you can actually own! The above piece by book sculptor Kelly Campbell Berry was one sold over her Etsy online store. Find more of her adaptations of children’s books here.

Featured image from Unsplash