Expanded Artists' Books


Envisioning the Future of the Book

CALL FOR COMMISSION PROPOSALS – Two $10,000 commissions will be awarded.

The Center for Book and Paper Arts, a program of the Interdisciplinary Arts Department at Columbia College Chicago, recently received a $50,000 Arts in Media grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in support of a new electronic publishing initiative, Expanded Artists’ Books. This grant will support an award of two $10,000 commissions for new artworks for the iPad. These will have physical counterparts that intersect, modulate, or inform the digital components of the artwork.


Artists’ books claim all aspects of the book (format, typography, structure, etc.) as potentially expressive. As immersive hybrid experiences for the reader/viewer, these works expand the limits of what we traditionally think of as a book. Simultaneously, we consider that tablet-based mobile platforms are emerging as a dynamic arena for investigation of the notion of the book. Expanded Artists’ Books utilize the rich capabilities of the tablet platform to imagine new forms that a book might take, such as exploring how interactivity challenges the traditional closure of text or the performance of time. We are currently focused specifically on Apple’s iPad as a site for exploration of this conceptually rich territory.

  • We are seeking proposals from artists for projects that will exist both on the iPad and as physical books.
  • Artists are challenged to explore ways in which the artwork can take both virtual and physical manifestations, examining the advantages of each and how the interplay between the two can be leveraged to provide a comprehensive and powerful expression.
  • The proposal should address how the project manifests within these two modalities.
  • While the commissioned artist must have the technical capability to be able to create and deliver the iPad experience, previous experience creating physical books is not required. If the commissioned artist does not have experience working in the book arts, technical assistance will be provided.

In addition to the quality of the concept, the criteria for selection of proposals will include the artist’s demonstrated facility with the digital tools (prior iPad development experience highly valued), the ability and willingness to work with technical assistance and collaboration, and demonstrated ability to carry a project through to timely completion.


All application materials will be submitted electronically. Materials will include:

  • Completed application form
  • Project proposal: Your project proposal must provide concept(s) of how the digital work may be transformed into a physical book object – understanding that if selected, modifications based on technical or financial limitations may need to be made.
  • Statement concerning previous iOS development experience, and anticipated development environment(s).
  • Timeline: The timeline must provide an overview of when you expect to complete the project, as well as your thoughts about when the development of the physical book will begin (simultaneous to the digital counterpart, afterwards, before, etc.)
  • Past work samples: Work sample(s) will only be accepted as video documentation via Vimeo – limited to 5 minutes maximum.
  • Resume
  • Two letters of reference from experts in the field who can speak to your ability to work collaboratively.

The artist is expected to ensure that the iOS project properly functions on all iPad devices for at least three years following the publication date.


The $10,000 commission is an artist’s fee. There are no requirements placed on how the artist uses these funds, however, all costs related to the development of the digital project are the responsibility of the artist. Within reasonable financial constraints, the CBPA will provide resources for the creation of the physical book component of the commission, both for materials and technical support. Once a project is accepted, we will coordinate with the artist to determine how best to accomplish the physical aspects of the project; please be aware that the precise outcome(s) for the physical book may need to be adjusted for financial and technical reasons. CBPA will fund a single visit (from a domestic location) to Chicago for consultation.


Both the digital and physical components of the completed project will be published by Epicenter, an imprint of the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago. While the digital version will be distributed free of charge, the physical component of the project will be made available for sale, with proceeds going to the CBPA publication fund; specific edition size, number of copies reserved for the artist, etc. will be determined after the proposals are reviewed. The artist retains copyright to the work, but grants CBPA the non-exclusive right to archive and present the project in perpetuity. Additionally, the artist grants CBPA the right to develop a physical book artifact / edition that responds to, interacts with, or corresponds with the iPad. This will be created in coordination with the artist.


Proposals will be reviewed by a committee of the project principals; semi-finalists will be interviewed to determine project feasibility. Proposals will then be forwarded to a jury of three experts from the fields of book art, media arts, and literary arts. This jury will select the two winning proposals.


Commission announcements will be made in December, 2012.

COMMISSION PUBLICATION / Project Completion Deadline

By October 31, 2013, project must be ready for submission to Apple store, with an anticipated release date in December, 2013.

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