Printing with the Photocopier: Making an Artist’s Book—An Upcoming Class

February 13, 2012

See the post for complete details.

Left: An artist's book I made using some of my 2011 Minnesota State Fair Sketches and a black and white photocopier. The covers have a window cut out and a tipped in color print of my Spin Art.


For two Monday evenings this spring—March 26 and April 2—from 6 to 9 p.m. I will be teaching a class on creating artist's books using the black and white photocopier as your press at MCBA

Learn how to prepare and layout art and text to create an artist's book to be printed on the photocopier. In the first session we will discuss ways to gather, to size, and to create artwork that will reproduce well on the black and white toner copier. (You do not have to be computer savvy to create your final masters—paste-up techniques will be demonstrated. Alternately you can elect to work on the computer and I can give you suggestions for that as well.)

We will discuss ideas for layout and design. You'll learn the various parts of the book and their importance and function. Students will also learn how to customize the size of their final structure.

Students will then have a week to prepare their printing masters on their own. During session two we will print your pages, fold and collate them. The pages will then be bound into a Japanese stab bound book with decorative sewing and a colorful paper cover.

This is the perfect way to make editioned artist's books, or share your work and images with friends and family to commemorate a special occasion. Each student will make 2-3 copies of her/his book in class, but will retain the masters for future copy-making.

Working with color (on color printers or color copiers) and different cover options will also be discussed.

Join me to start planning and creating your next artist's book today!

$90 ($80 for MCBA members) + $15 supply fee

Early bird registration for certificate program enrollees: $80/$70, expires 2/27

All skill levels welcome.

    • Zoe
    • February 13, 2012

    If only pigs really did fly, and I could too, easily, I’d be registered in a millisecond.

  1. Reply

    Christina, I got your note on Facebook and answered there but just in case you miss that (I miss everything on FB) I won’t be writing about the workshop later, except maybe to show a photo of the class at the end with their new books going out into the world (that makes me happy). I have published a video on sewing a Japanese Stab binding, but the design stuff and handling images, creating a paste up etc. won’t be the subject of a video or on-line class, any time soon.

    If you have access to a printer that works with your Mac you’ll actually get higher quality than from a photocopier because you’ll be working from a digital file that is an original, where as the copier will be using a printout of your Mac file and so essentially second generation.

    All of that and ways to proceed are explained in the class. And why you might want to do one versus the other.

    (Students in class will actually have the option of printing digital files directly to MCBA’s printer/copier.)

    Do a cost analysis on your consumables and see if it is worth it to print at home instead of doing something else. (Some laser printers’ toner cartridges are expensive!)

    Also, if running your printer is expensive or you can’t get the quality you want (since laser printer quality varies greatly)consider laying out your book on your Mac in InDesign and then uploading it to Blurb or Lulu. Then you only have to buy a copy for yourself and promote the book—people can then buy it directly from the printing company with no prepayment from you for massive quantities. It might be the least expensive option when you weigh everything.

    I hope you have fun with your project!I’m sorry you aren’t near by to work with us.

    • Christina Trevino.
    • February 18, 2012

    Roz, thank you so much for your answer, it gives me a direction, as I am not any smart about new technology, I am still way back there when I helped my friend Jaime setting type at his small printing bussiness in Mexico City. (Sigh).

    • Norah Chandler
    • May 28, 2014

    It is cool that you can use something simple like a photocopier to make an artistic and interesting book. Do you use special software to prepare the layouts for printing? Can you use different types of paper?
    Norah Chandler

  2. Reply

    Norah, I love making editioned books on the photocopier. I had the best copier in the world for years until finally it gave up the ghost (20 years!) and the copier repair guy said he couldn’t get parts any more. Then I didn’t have a big robust copier for a couple years and it was frustrating. I have a Cannon that’s black toner that does a good job now, but sadly couldn’t find an affordable one that does legal sheets, which are the most fun to make into books. Still you use what you have and I can always go to a copy center if I need to.

    I prepared my layouts in Quark Xpress which is a page layout program I used every day in my design business. Now the industry has changed over to InDesign and I lay things out in that program.

    If you have to use a copy shop you can save your work as a PDF with all the fonts and the file will be printable by them.

    You can use any type of paper you can get through the copier. That depends on a lot of factors.

    I like to make copier books that are toner and black and white. So the type of paper isn’t that important, just one of their good cotton papers if it’s in a copy shop.

    With a toner copier the toner is stuck to the page because of a heat process inside the machine. If you use paper that’s too thick it doesn’t heat through and the toner doesn’t stick, resulting in imperfect prints and toner that rubs off. Textured papers sometimes increase the printing “sticking” difficulties.

    On any printer/copier you are limited to what can feed through your machine and the manual will advise you.

    On some of the ink-jet machines there are straight feeds and you can have more choices, but you may also have to specially treat your specialty papers so that they accept the ink.

    I’ve printed fabric that was treated to accept such ink on my color Epson.

    Dorothy Simpson Krause does a lot of experimenting with printing different papers on different printers. She applies various media to the surface for ink adhesion and such. Golden makes some preparations just for that.

    She wrote about a lot of this in her book Digital Art Studio. I just pulled this link off the internet, I’m not endorsing the seller or anything—just wanted you to see the book, which I think might be out of print as it isn’t for sale on Krause’s website.

    Anyway, if you’re interested in doing all that check her book out at a library.

    I’m always focusing on keeping my equipment in tiptop shape for my business so I don’t try those sorts of experiments. And instead I’m contented with more pedestrian papers.

  3. Reply

    Amazing how a book can be made with a copier.

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