Book Arts Roundtables

Minnesota Center for Book Arts is a hub of creativity where interesting, passionate, and knowledgeable people like you learn, share ideas, and get inspired.

Join the conversation by attending our fun, interactive Book Arts Roundtables in MCBA’s lively studios. Roundtables are always FREE and open to the public.




Wednesday, August 20; 6pm
Book Arts Roundtable with Tokyo-based master bookbinder Yo Yamazaki

Yo was born in Tokyo, Japan. He received an M.A. from the Tokyo University of Fine Arts. His interest in books and drawing began in childhood, and he wrote and illustrated zines and newspapers with friends in middle school and high school. In college, Yo learned traditional Japanese arts, design and printing. After college, while working for a book publisher, he began learning about hand bookbinding; from 1991 to 1993 he worked as an apprentice to Toshio Ohie and learned French style bookbinding techniques. He began offering bookbinding classes in 1997, and in 2006 his first book was published — a reference book with techniques for 13 beautiful bookbinding styles. Today, he utilizes bookbinding both as a commissioned bookbinder as well as a book artist, and also makes bookbinding tools — including “hybrid” tools useful for both Western and Eastern binding practices.

You can view many more images of Yo’s work at his website.



Monday, August 25; 6-8pm
6pm: Book Arts Roundtable with MCAD Collegiate Fellow Meagan Miller
7pm: “The Body is a Book” with MCBA/Jerome Book Arts Fellowship recipient Amoreena Tarvas and guests


6:00 pm: Roundtable with MCAD Collegiate Fellow Meagan Miller
in MCBA’s studios

Miller received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Her recent exhibitions include group shows at the Bakken Museum and the Arts and Architecture Building. Her artwork explores how the viewer can interact with sculpture and how that opens them to stronger connections with the artwork and the world around them.




7:00 pm: “The Body is a Book”
in the Open Book Target Performance Hall

As the tattoo industry continues to grow, the line between tattoo and fine artist becomes less and less apparent. With a living canvas and ink as their medium, tattooers illustrate stories, symbols, and milestones, creating one-of-a-kind documents that will (literally) last a lifetime. In “The Body as a Book,” book artist and tattoo apprentice Amoreena Tarvas will moderate a panel of tattoo artists about what it means to create a narrative on skin. Addressing topics typically associated with book arts such as provenance and readability, this roundtable will illuminate an often-marginalized fine art form.

Panel participants:

Amoreena Tarvas: Tattoo artist, illustrator, and printmaker
Amoreena “Amo” Tarvas grew up in the eclectic town of Duluth, Minnesota. Her earliest memories of drawing consist of copying album cover art from her parents’ extensive collection. She began getting tattoos at eighteen, and quickly became infatuated with the art form. After high school she enrolled at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and in 2010 earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Illustration. She then spent several years teaching at a private art studio before moving to Minneapolis. She currently works as a tattoo artist at Unusual Expressions, interns under Richard Stephens at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and enjoys taking on freelance illustration work in her spare time. Tarvas is an MCBA/Jerome Book Arts Fellowship recipient; she and four other Fellows will share their culminating work in an exhibition opening September 30, 2014.

Katie: Tattoo artist
Katie has been tattooing since 2010; her style could be described as illustrative meets realism. Katie draws inspiration from nature, music, her community and her background in illustration. Her artistic influences come from comics, video games from when she was younger, graffiti, and modern tattoo artists. Katie appreciates the fact that tattooing brings something new and different every day, allows her to think on her feet and work with her hands. Outside of tattooing Katie enjoys doing freelance illustrations for local musicians for their merchandise, fliers, and album art; as well as live painting at shows.

Bambi: Tattoo artist
Bambi has been tattooing since 2005, animals and nature influence her style with a focus on imaginative realism. She enjoys color as well as working in black and grey. Her inspiration comes from the natural world; people, animals, flowers all evoke her creativity. Some of her artistic influence are James Gurney, Much, Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, Brian Froud and Frank Frazetta. Bambi finds tattooing to be an incredibly grounding experience and is constantly being inspired by her clients and friends. She finds it extremely rewarding to work with people and together discover and create something really unique and beautiful.

Emi: Tattoo artist
Emi has been tattooing since 2010, she is drawn to a few different styles including; realism, bold coloring, black and grey, new school, and traditional Japanese style tattoos. She mainly draws her inspiration from portraiture, Japanese style art or animation, and nature. Emi enjoys the challenge that tattooing provides, always allowing for self-improvement and continuing to grow her skills, plus the social bonus of meeting and working with other creative individuals.




Friday, September 5; 7pm
Inventing the Dos Rapporté Binding:
Book Arts Roundtable with visiting artist Benjamin Elbel

Free and open to the public

Visiting artist Benjamin Elbel will talking about how and why he came up with the dos rapporté binding (French for “hooked-on spine”) and the variations that he’s developed to this day.

Benjamin Elbel studied art in France before specializing in bookbinding and book conservation in Ascona, Switzerland. Following that he gained hands-on experience in various binderies in Germany and England, before setting up his own studio in London in 2012. Benjamin’s activities are divided between studio services, product design and training. Over the years he has developed many original structures that he uses in his own work and teaches across Europe (including Ascona, Mariemont, Le Vésinet, etc). For more information, visit Benjamin’s website.

You can also join Benjamin at his weekend workshop:
The Dos Rapporté Binding
Saturday and Sunday, September 6-7; 9am-5pm

The dos rapporté binding is a special spine construction developed in recent years by French binder Benjamin Elbel. Loved by artists for its perfect flat opening, the structure is also suitable for conservation binding or stationery. This two-day workshop will cover most aspects of the structure, from the cloth-covered hardback to the (nearly) non-adhesive limp bindings. This is an intermediate/advanced class; students will be provided with materials to sew book blocks before the start of class. MCBA is proud to host Benjamin’s first-ever teaching engagement in the U.S. — grab your spot for this rare opportunity while you can!

For more details or to register, visit our Adult Workshops page.





Friday, October 24; 5pm
Book Arts Roundtable with visiting artist Timothy Ely

Timothy Ely was born in the Snohomish General Hospital in 1949. Truman was president. On the site of the hospital now stands the new version of The Snohomish Public Library. He became a voracious reader at a young age. A sympathetic teacher [who taught him to draw] would lead him often back into that public Library [a fine old Carnegie building] where tales of pirates, Tesla coils, maps, flying saucers and back issues of Scientific American and Popular Mechanics would begin to tarnish the goals set for him by the rest of the family. In this library he began to explore images in the worlds of science fiction and comic books.

Following high school and tenure in several local area rock bands, Ely enrolled at Everett Community College following luminaries such as Chuck Close and Donn Trethewey by several years. This was just after the summer of love [1967] and a time of extraordinary fertility in painting. Ely was perfectly placed. Painting was a primary interest and with an awareness that design was the grounding language, Ely pursued a degree in fine art. A number of chance remarks by teachers began to gradually orient Ely towards the inherent duality in the forms of the book. There were no opportunities for study in that area, but the pull of the idea of the book as as aesthetic carrier was a potent and inspiring image. Following graduate school [1975, MFA, Design] Ely began a self motivated study of bookbinding. He began to fabricate the work he is known for today, a fusion of largely English style binding techniques with visionary drawings of an unknowable future.

Ely has received numerous awards. With an NEA grant [1982] he traveled to Japan, Italy and England studying bookbinding and papermaking. Following this he moved to New York where he established a studio and also taught at the Center for Book Arts. During this decade in New York, he traveled to Europe, Central America and Scandinavia lecturing, exhibiting and teaching. He has had numerous solo exhibitions and has participated in many group exhibitions. His two most recent exhibitions were at the Jundt Museum of Art and The Northwest Museum of Art and Culture. His work is collected planet-wide and held in public, private and secret collections. He currently lives in Eastern Washington near the Colfax river. Ely is represented by Ursus Books in New York.

You can also join Tim at his weekend workshop, which begins immediately after the Roundtable:
Ideas and Actions in Content and Construction Expanded
Friday, October 24; 6-9pm, and Saturday-Sunday, October 25-26; 10am-5pm
Bookbinding experience required

In this master class, the sketchbook is the vehicle on which the participant can merge the generation of idea and observation with the creation of a handmade book, where technique and concept are fused. The sketchbook has a long and venerable history, and can serve as a planner, recording device, carrier of scrap, journal, and muse. Students will delve into eccentric aspects of binding and design, of structure and purpose, as well as the great need for people to record their lives in interesting and unique formats by fabricating a “formal” codex book with rigid covers and work with hybrid structures, combining a sewn text block with a drum leaf binding cover designed by the instructor. The instructor will lead discussion of surface design processes on cover materials, alternate histories, possible variants on format, and engage with mark making materials that form a foundation for exciting and durable archiving. With three extra hours, participants will be able to absorb more early on in the workshop and delve deeper into their sketchbook content throughout the weekend.
For more details or to register, visit our Adult Workshops page.