Making a Blurb Art Book

As many of you know by now I just self published an art book. This isn’t my first go round as I had to get books printed for multiple college photo projects, and used the same platform for felan. I made books for my Italy Souvenirs series, my senior project, the Toy Photographers 2017 yearbook, and a fourth that I can’t quite remember. However, this is the first I’ve produced for my work in my professional life, and I’d like to think it has more substance to it.

I received a couple questions as to how I produced the book, so I I hope this post will give those of you curious your answers, but I’d also like to use the opportunity to explain my thoughts and concept behind what I included, and what I did not.

Choosing a Publishing Platform

First, as you’ve seen in the title, I used for this task. Blurb allows for print on demand publishing which was a must for me. I’ve always wound up using Blurb, whether for my photo books or for my art magazine I produced for 2 years. In each of these instances I tried to find print and cost saving alternatives which largely led to Amazon and Lulu. However, Amazon doesn’t allow for the same quality when it comes to printing high resolution photos on appropriate paper, and Lulu ships to much fewer countries. I believe there were further reasons as well, but I won’t focus too hard on this for the purposes of this post.

I will say, if you intend to publish a text-based book, I would most certainly recommend Amazon CreateSpace instead of Blurb. However, if a self-published art book if what you’re aiming for, Blurb is the way to go.

Working with Blurb

Blurb has a couple different book layout tools you can download to guarantee that your book will fit their standard book sizes. You can either download their software, or a plugin for Adobe InDesign. I did the latter. With either option, once downloading you select your book options – size, paper, cover type, page number (this can be an estimate and updated later), and then get to work.

In my case, I first made sure I had all my photos saved as high resolution (300 dpi), properly sized jpegs (based on how large they’d be printed in the book). I then went into InDesign and created a basic layout that I knew I was going to use for most pages as my master page template, I also added page numbers here. I then selected all pages and allowed for the master page template to be overwritten, so that I’d have each of my image slots available, but I could remove or resize them as necessary.

Making my Specific Book

I wanted the book to be able to be read of sorts either forward or backward. I knew I wanted to make transitional coming and leaving images, with a suitcase for this, but needed each to read as just that – coming or leaving, so that they’d work in either direction whether from Monochrome to Polychrome or vice versa.

In this same vein, I placed a title page at the beginning and end of the book, each followed by an artist info page. The one on the Polychrome side however (the traditional back of the book) has scanned, hand written text, outlining my writing of my artist name and signature. Both artist info pages have hand written @ symbols. Next comes the respective series info pages. Open the book from the Monochrome side, and 3 pages in you’ll get info on the Monochrome series and a background of to-scale Monochrome photo props. Open the Polychrome side and you’ll get info on the Polychrome series and a background of to-scale Polychrome photo props.

Next there are images of the full dollhouses used in each portion of the series. The dollhouse images have their width printed below, and the page numbers on which each dollhouse room (in the series images later in the book) is picture is printed on that corresponding room.

After are behind the scenes collages with images of accessories and written planning pages. And following are contact sheets/further table of contents. Each image of the series, is represented as a thumbnail, ordered by date it was created, with the page number location of it’s larger version listed below each thumbnail.

Then begins the series images. Start from the Monochrome side and you will page through 50 Monochrome images, all horizontal, then 2 leaving/arriving images, these sets being the only vertical in the series, then a spiral of both 15 Polychrome and 15 Monochrome images, followed by another 2 leaving/arriving images. The Monochrome images along side the Polychrome images, serve to show what the grey figure is missing. She reflects on what could be her at her home, a place she is more comfortable than she is in this Polychrome house. To reflect this, the Monochrome images in this section are smaller and offset in compartison to the Polychrome images.

Now Back to Blurb

If you’re using the InDesign plug in, after finalizing your book pages, click back into Blurb Book Creator and create a cover template.

For mine, I placed an image of the Monochrome house on the front cover and the Polychrome house on the back and their subsequent titles. ‘Monochrome’ is writtin in a serif font in medium grey, and ‘Polychrome’ is written in a sans-serif font in a pink/green gradient (both a multicolored take and the colors of the watermelon tourmaline gemstone, my artist namesake).

Then, while you should be able to upload directly from Blurb Book Creator, in my numerous times using this plug in, I’ve never been able to get that feature to work. Instead, I save my 2 files as high resolution, print ready PDFs and upload to Blurb that way.

So Where Do you Go From Here?

I know this might not all be insanely helpful for you with your book. If you’re familiar with InDesign and have a decent sense of book layouts you’re good to go. If not, I recommend downloading Blurb BookWright, Blurb’s book creation software. It’s relatively straight forward to use and there are a lot of helpful resources to guide you along the way.

Let me know if you’d like a walk-through of this software down the line, and I’ll see what I can do.

Also, if you’d like a copy of my book Monochrome|Polychrome, you can get one here. Check the banner at the top of Blurb’s page as there are often coupon codes.

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