Johanna Drucker's Artist Books
An online repository of facsimiles, metadata, and commentary

'S crap 'S ample


Project Statement

This book was conceived in summer 1979 after a visit with my brother in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The book is structured as a sample book, so that only the edge of each page is originally revealed. Lifting each flap reveals yet more intimate and interior thoughts, and flipping the pages up to see the text on the underside goes yet farther into private thought. While I was intent on using the multi-level structure to create various stages of exposure, they also organized the text into different tones and registers. Mine was as much the private zone being protected here as his. The writing was descriptive, but cryptic.

Production Narrative

The cover images for this book were produced while travelling. I had seen my brother in Minnesota and then headed by train to Austin, Texas, to see my friend Janet Felsten. I cut the line block there and printed it, along with the colored swatches, done with potato and some cardboard. Then I took the prints on the train with me when I headed out to California, and used markers, water, brushes, and such while riding. When I got to Oakland the production was delayed by circumstances (relocation, work in the warehouse, finding a job, other realities) while I was working on the texts. The type was set and printed in 1980, since that is the date on the book. It is all in my Stymie, and so I know it was my type, but whether I had acquired my Vandercook by the time this was printed or not I can't recall. I had to have bought the press sometime in that period, because I know I had it by the time we were doing Third Man and Poets' Theater productions in 1980.

Critical Analysis

Design Features

typographic: The multi-levelled text and the several weights of 12 and 10 point bold, medium, and light Stymie were a happy match in this book. The slab-serif face suits the cover image, with its bold outline. The overall typographic design felt sure and strong and the type printed well, clean and dark, but not over-impressed.

imagery: The only image is the cover, and the photographic sources in family albums are burned into memory. A portrait of my brother, painted by my father in a naive fashion, hangs in the living room of our Rittenhouse Square childhood home (it hung for years in the hall, above a small chest with tools in it). The posture and style of that image are also present in this work.

graphical: The multi-level layout is the most striking feature of graphical organization, and is used to embody and underscore the conception of a portrait as a slow revelation of information.

openings: The vertical format of the book makes the openings into a top and bottom, rather than side by side, with the top revealing the inner level of the page before.

turnings: Each turning reveals a longer page strip, allowing more text and description.

development: A spatial dimension (lengthening) increases along with the textual elaboration.



Johanna Drucker

type: initiating


Publication Information

publisher: Druckwerk

publication: 1980-00-00

publication history: One edition only, though the cover stock varied somewhat throughout, and a few copies had color xerox versions of the portrait, instead of the original printed and painted one.

Aesthetic Profile

artists' books (LCSH)

themes: My brother and his conflicts and difficulties.

content form:
narrative (local)
experimental text (local)

publication tradition:
artists' book (local)

inspiration: Sample books.

related works: Nothing else in my book works deals with family members or dynamics, but many manuscripts and other writings do.

other influences: The cover image harks back to photographs of my brother as an infant.

community: other The book arts community in the Bay Area, just as intended audience.

Related Documents

manuscript type: texts

location: other

note: None remain that I know of.


Publication Information

edition type: editioned

publisher: Druckwerk

place: Oakland, California, probably using Betsy Davids' press in her barn in Berkeley.

publication: 1980-00-00

edition size: 80


horizontal: 5.5 inches closed

vertical: 10.25 inches closed

depth: .2 inches closed

Production Information

production means:
letterpress (local)
painting (local)

binding: other pamphlet stitch

bookBlock: paper

other paint (AAT)
ink (local)


format: codex (AAT)

cover: The cover is made from a thick, ivory-colored paper. Printed on the paper is the title, 'S crap 'S ample, at the top, and thin lines at the bottom that get thicker and farther away from each other as tehy progress down the page. Pasted on the front is a figure painted on white paper that looks like a large-headed baby in diapers with its hands on its hips.

color: yes


pagination: unpaginated 16 pages

numbered?: numbered

signed?: unsigned



Related Documents

manuscript type: texts

location: artist's archive