Artist: Dennis Yuen
Business name: Studio CaiLun
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Black Plum, detail
How do you describe your work?
I’d describe the essence of my work is heavily influenced by graphic arts. I came from a background of photography, cinematography and graphic design therefore I always think of composition and colors when I work on my books. I see each element of a book similar to as components of photography or graphic design projects.
What is your creative process like?
From my artist statement…
I often begin a piece by thinking about colors. I think about how different colors can play out on a book through the threads, ribbons, paper and fabrics. I often see the visual composition of the book in my mind before putting together the book, as a graphic designer arranging the shapes and colors.
The entire book acts as a graphic design canvas and each element contributes to the final visual and physical form for the book. The cover, the stitching, the sections and the end paper perform their own functions with their own colors and forms. The physical book is a graphic object that incorporates lines, shapes, forms and colors.
I know a piece is done when I get the chill holding it in my hand upon completion. This is the ultimate moment I long for during the process of making each and every book.
What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I have been making books since I was a kid, and made multi-media book projects as a teenager as a way to express my longings and intense emotions of those years. Around 2003, I took a few classes at the Center for Book Arts in New York with bookbinders Susan Mills, Benjamin Rinehart, and a few others, and learnt some professional techniques to make books. Since then I have been making books non-stop.
Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
What inspires you to create?
I adore the physicality of books through holding them, flipping the pages and touching the bindings. The holding of a book is an act of adoration and admiration of the artistry. The touch of a hand-bound book gives me a jolt of energy that sparks its existence into form. This is something that pushes me to create physical books that one can physically interact with.
What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
I’ll take a break when I am stuck. Knowing that at some point I will pick it up again and continue keeps me going. I am learning Japanese these days, I find that whenever I am stuck in creative work (whether it’s bookmaking or design), I find that doing something completely different, such as digging my head into the phrase book and flash cards, can really give my creative mind a rest.
Little Orange Cover
What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Practice makes perfect. Cliché, but true.
What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
Sleeping takes up the most amount of time, besides my art, followed by my multimedia and interactive design work.
What’s your favorite comfort food?
All kinds of Haribo gummy candies.