Mike Stilkey’s Painted Books

Craft & Design
Mike Stilkey’s Painted Books

mike stilkey bear

Los Angeles-based artist Mike Stilkey likes to experiment with the canvases he chooses for his whimsical paintings, including vintage paper, record covers, book pages, and most interestingly on hardcover books themselves. In a previous interview, Stilkey says:

I was painting on book pages for forever, and actually published a book in 2005 titled “100 Portraits” in which I drew one hundred portraits on old book pages. At the time, I was drawing on books, records or anything else I could find at a thrift store. Eventually, I started drawing on the books themselves. I was going to do a project where I just drew on the covers of the books, and as I finished them I would stack them against the wall. It dawned on me that it might be a good idea to paint down the spines of the books instead of just on the covers.

You’d be amazed at how many books are thrown out. I like the idea of reusing all of these discarded items as canvases for my work. I even asked the library up the street from my house if they had any books that they were getting rid of, and they said no. When I explained to them how I use them, they gave me access to a huge dumpster in the back parking lot of the library. The dumpster was filled with thousands and thousands of books. I spent the afternoon fighting with some homeless guy over who got which book from the dumpster.

Check out a selection of his work below, with many more on his site and Facebook page.

mike stilkey girl wall

mike stilkey cello

mike stilkey piano

mike stilkey animal band

mike stilkey japan

mike stilkey butterfly

mike stilkey bear2

mike stilkey books

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at snowgoli@gmail.com or via @snowgoli.

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