Following last year’s 4th Sheffield International Artist’s Book Prize, and in light of the huge number of entries received, we commissioned two surveys from entrants to Prize and visitors to the subsequent exhibition to permit us to gauge the effectiveness of the event from the point of view of others. The scale of the event and the fact that we will continue to work on the 2013 Prize throughout the whole of 2014, including building an archive for the collection, continuing the process of cataloguing all the books online (we haven’t yet started that on paper), re-photographing some entries, not to mention staging exhibitions of the winners, has meant we have had too little time to reflect. 

Sharing the findings of what we do is important in terms of our work: one of the aims of the Prize has been advocacy and dissemination of book arts. We hope it is useful and interesting to others as well as participants in this respect. We have included all the Comments made in addition to the survey questions – some are not very favourable but the vast majority are and readers can make up their own minds about the provenance of some of the statements. Please get in touch with any other feedback or comments as we would be delighted to hear from you.

The statistical side of the survey can also be found under the links below.

Who Participated in the Survey?

Survey 1 was targeted specifically at entrants to SIABP 2013. All entrants who provided a legible e-mail on their entry form were personally e-mailed the link. This survey had a very high response rate with 218 responses in total (out of 455 e-mailed). The majority of the respondents were from the UK, the USA, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia.

Survey 2 targeted visitors to the SIABP 2013 exhibition. Using e-mail addresses provided on voting slips, all visitors who left an e-mail address were mailed the survey link. A reasonably large sample was collected, with 88 respondents in total: almost all were UK residents.

Decision to enter

One of the things we wanted to know from artists was why they entered.

The opportunity to exhibit work was shown to be the most popular, with 84% stating that this encouraged them to enter. 56% stated that the fact all entries were exhibited was a key factor. Despite the fact that many entrants were unable to attend the exhibition, both having work in an exhibition and the democratic nature of the prize was important many. 44% stated that the fact that visitors could handle the books encouraged them to enter.

The nature of the Prize as an international event was a positive for 62% of entrants, suggesting that the prize has a good reputation and the opportunity to participate in an international event is important. 59% cited the opportunity to donate work to a permanent collection stating as a factor.

The fact that the prize was free was revealed to be of lesser importance. Only 27% stated that this influenced their decision. Similarly, neither the prize money nor actually winning the prize were revealed to be of great importance.

Reasons cited for entering:

  • to realize my first artist book with the theme of my project on which I am working in the moment.
  • the ability to share with other people.
  • the possibility of winning a further exhibition.
  • to support your project.
  • love to show my work in England.
  • I wanted to support the event by raising the profile in whatever way I could.
  • I really like the democratic mission of the exhibition and the centre’s of making the books available to visitors. THANK YOU for bringing artist’s books to life.
  • A chat I had with staff at a SIABP stand in Bristol.
  • events in Sheffield should be supported.
  • that there are no fees to be paid.
  • the organization looked very encouraging and friendly, with a real interest in artist’s books.

The Entry Process

The questionnaire posed several questions regarding the entry process for future prizes. When asked whether or not implementing a first stage-digital submission process would affect their decision to enter 61% of entrants stated that it would make no difference at all and 25% that it would actually encourage them. Only 14% stated that they would be deterred by a digital submission process, which indicates that there would be a minimal decrease in the number of entries should a digital submission process be introduced. This would streamline the administrative aspects of SIABP, and would cut out a large amount of work in terms of putting together the catalogue. It would also save on storage space and a variety of other time and money consuming issues that were particularly problematic due to the volume of entries in 2013.

We also asked if entrants would be deterred if the number of entries were limited in future years. Most respondents (70%) said that it would make no difference to their decision to enter. 20% claimed that it would encourage them in future with just 10% saying it would deter them from entering.

Comments on submitting digitally:

  • I’d prefer to send a hard copy of my book and be done with it.
  • This is common practise with most galleries.
  • This means then that the entries would be judged?
  • Getting good quality photos without a professional photographer is sometimes an issue and might discourage submissions. However it is probably an incentive for those of us who live outside the UK..
  • It wouldn’t completely deter me, but it is an additional step that would cause me to consider whether the entry is worth doing.
  • It might influence the type of work I would submit.
  • I don’t have anything against you being a bit more selective. It would mean that I would want to be included more, than if everything is included.
  • I liked the fact I could just fill in a form and hand over my entry at a book fair with minimal fuss and faffing about.
  • Submission time of a few months would be needed, it would still be necessary to allow time to make work.
  • But a book must be touched.
  • It would make the possibility of submitting more than one book easier.
  • As an artist I always make digital photos of my completed work.
  • I don’t think a full appreciation of many books (particularly those with a 3d element) can be gained through photographs. I think it is important that the books are seen and handled.
  • Good idea – you need a selection process as this gives status to those who exhibit.
  • Those that don’t photograph well would lose out, save unnecessary postage fees, cut intake, better exhibition.
  • It wouldn’t deter me as such, but I would only consider entering work that photographed well. My book opened up to be more of an object so this wasn’t a problem but I have previously made books that wouldn’t be given justice in one photograph so I would need to send in at least five photographs or I wouldn’t enter.
  • Digital submissions, while easier, are dependent on the quality of the photography. Some pieces just don’t photograph well.
  • A book is a three dimensional physical object difficult to represent via digital photographs. As your catalogue reveals, a digital image / images can not do justice to the quality of the book, they would be more about the book artists ability to produce digital images than about creating a book.
  • The essence of a book is to take and read it. You can’t do this digitally.
  • But I think it would be a good idea for the Prize to continue.
  • What is the purpose of this unless it is that submissions can now be rejected.
  • My books are easily shown digitally, but this may be difficult for others.

Comments on the limiting numbers:

  • I think it would detract from the exhibition in that it would become just yet another competition.
  • I don’t think you could ask for entries to be donated if they are not included in the exhibition.
  • We all strive to improve our craft and it would make acceptance that much more meaningful.
  • If the submission is digital and free
  • That depends on what you consider what is best for the prize.
  • I would still enter once and see how I do.
  • Would make more of a challenge and make the exhibition less overwhelming.
  • It is an understandable outcome, considering the exponential jump in entries and the need to present a quality exhibition.
  • I would still enter but only through digital entry or on the condition that you sent the book back if you didn’t want it.
  • Most shows have limitations. It is of very little consequence.
  • I assume you mean limiting the number of entries per person, I think that is a good idea.
  • It depends on the criteria for limiting entries
  • I am more interested in juried exhibitions rather than all-entries-accepted shows.
  • Depends on how you decide to limit it.
  • I think it is a pity if you limit the number, the amount shows the way artist books are considered interesting.

Overall opinion of the exhibition

Feedback from visitors’ to the exhibition was extremely positive with 49% rating it as ‘very good’, and 35% as ‘exceptional’. A further 16% rated it as ‘good’, and none of the respondents rated it at ‘adequate’ or ‘poor’. When asked if they thought there were too many books in the exhibition. The vast majority (83%) answered ‘no’.

The ‘further comments’ were almost exclusively positive, most praising the exhibition.

“Very stimulating, enjoyable and encouraging.”

“So unusual and well curated.”

One of the only criticisms of the exhibition related to the amount of artwork on show.

“Excellent exhibits but a bit too much in too small a space.”

Most respondents commented positively on the ‘appearance’ of the exhibition too. 97% rated the appearance of the exhibition as either ‘good’, ‘very good’ or ‘exceptional’. 45% rated it as ‘good’, 40% as ‘very good’, and 12% as ‘exceptional’. Only 3% (2 respondents) rated it as ‘adequate’, and no-one ‘poor’.

When visitors were asked if they thought there were too many books in the exhibition, 84% answered ‘no’. The further comments revealed that some visitors had difficulty viewing as much of the exhibition as they wanted due to time constraints and the sheer volume of artwork on show.

“Even after 3 visits it was impossible to see all the books”.

“It was a bit overwhelming to have so many on show. If I’d had time to do more visits it would have been easier”. 

The majority of respondents amongst participants did not visit the exhibition for reasons associated with their proximity to BSA. Overall, visiting the exhibition was stated as being less important than participating. The feedback from entrants who did visit the exhibition was generally very positive, with 93% stating that they found the exhibition ‘good’, ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.

Additional comments from visitors:

  • It was inspiring.
  • A very wide variety of books – being able to handle the books – also photograph them.
  • Variety, many innovative, some very moving, international, different materials used, large number of books, high quality, displayed effectively.
  • A huge surprising and innovative collection of work.
  • It was a very interesting concept and there were some striking and beautiful pieces.
  • Very stimulating – very enjoyable and encouraging.
  • Really interesting.
  • A good range and good diversity.
  • Always room for improvement! A bigger venue perhaps?
  • The work was varied, interesting, and of a high standard.
  • Unique, really enjoyed.
  • So unusual and well curated.
  • First artists book exhibition I have been to so nothing to compare it to.
  • There were excellent exhibits but a bit too much in too small a space.
  • The quality of the work was brilliant but too much to look at in one day.
  • So many interesting books, good layout, chance to handle the books. A lovely day trip.
  • It grabbed my attention, there was too much to explore in one visit.
  • So many imaginative and cleverly made varieties of books. An inspiration.
  • Absolutely loved it. Terrific idea, beautifully presented.
  • The standard of entries was good, a real mix of styles, media and ideas.
  • Excellent range of books, something for everyone, fantastic to be able to handle the exhibits.
  • A bit too cluttered.
  • Vast and inspiring.
  • I really enjoyed it. I only found out about it at the last minute (last day) so didn’t have enough time to spend looking at everything. Next time I will go more than once. Loved it, what a brilliant idea. I will also visit the gallery again as I didn’t know it existed until then.
  • It opened my eyes to a new world!
  • There was a wonderful and large selection of books, I could have stayed for hours!
  • Too many exhibits.
  • Very cold.
  • Enormous amount to see.
  • The entrants were very good, but felt the display was lacking.
  • What an amazing collection.
  • It was fantastic to visit an exhibition that allowed touching as well as looking.
  • I wanted to stay there forever – to make books – and pack my shitty job in.
  • Very many imaginative and original pieces of work.
  • A large collection of very creative work.
  • Not all books easily accessible.
  • I liked that some books were displayed in middle of room as they could be viewed 3D. They are objects. Those on display cabinet had space around so could get a good look.
  • Some exhibition spaces were better than others.
  • Good clear layout, with a range of shelves and tables.
  • Lovely venue, felt work a little overcrowded?
  • Lighting, spacing, etc. were as good as they could be in that particular facility.
  • I thought it was very much in keeping with the building and looked great.
  • I liked the way the books were displayed differently in the different rooms.
  • Love the different spaces more comfy chairs more lights, were there audio books versions?
  • Really enjoyed it I loved the exhibition.
  • Too cluttered, even in the biggest room if more than 6 people were viewing the work it was impossible to move round the room.
  • Bank Street should use more rooms, they have plenty.
  • Some areas were a bit make shift but it didn’t really matter.
  • Well spaced and the white rooms set the books off well.
  • Lighting could have been better.
  • The presentation was basic but adequate.I was there to see the books, not admire the set-up and the building :-).
  • The venue was a little small but it made it an intimate experience.
  • Wanted more space – More comfort to read them and make notes.

From participants

  • Would have liked more time to examine all the entries.
  • An interesting mix of styles and abilities.
  • Lovely space to walk around to see the exhibits, however felt there where too many exhibits. Some repetition was inevitable.
  • It was good, interesting range of books and the displaying techniques but some of the smaller books like mine did not always have the best spot to view them.
  • I felt the show was good but the books could’ve been displayed better. The ones in cardboard boxes didn’t come across as being as equally appreciated as the rest. The staff could’ve been friendlier.
  • Far too many books in a small space.
  • I thought that the display was much improved on the ones before.
  • Considering the volume of work on show, it was exhibited very well.
  • Sometimes the projected idea was good but it wasn’t executed well.
  • Thought books should have been displayed in catalogue order number as found it difficult to find one or two specific books I was looking for. Also was disappointed by the way my book was displayed (it was left in its box and had a very small space given it was a prize winner).
  • The books didn’t have enough space around to give some of them what they needed them but I understood why.
  • I’ve rated this as very good rather than excellent because of the limitations of the capacity for displaying the huge number of entries. The catalogue accompanying the exhibition was an excellent guide however.
  • Great to be able to handle and have space to look.
  • It was hard to take in all the books in one visit
  • I spent a couple of hours there, and loved the opportunity to handle the books. My mother and godmother came along and it was their first introduction to artist’s books – both loved the exhibition.
  • Felt the way the books were exhibited was innovative and encouraged handling/interaction.
  • I really enjoyed being able to see and handle so many interesting books.


When asked about the quality of the artwork in the exhibition the majority of respondents rated that it as either ‘good’ (47%) or ‘exceptional’ (50%).

Additional Comments:

  • Very mixed abilities.
  • Obvious artists had put a lot of thought, effort & skill into the books.
  • As I said, a wide mix of quality, but that was part of the charm.
  • A very absorbing inspirational exhibition.
  • Such variety and quality.
  • Standard varied so difficult question to answer.
  • Standards varied, of course, there were some tiny gems of ideas and some very well developed pieces.
  • There was a big variation in standard in such a big display.
  • Jaw dropping range of concepts and forms and content inspirational just not enough time to read them all.
  • Some were brilliant, some poor, but it didn’t matter at all because the great variety was the exhibition’s strength.
  • Talented artists.
  • Some of the work was just so clever and so intricate. I could have spent hours in there. Isn’t it wonderful to know there is so much talent in the world. It gives me hope.
  • Not sure how to judge it as I’ve only seen a limited amount before.
  • The quality varied; overall it was at least good, but some was exceptional.
  • Difficult question as it was such a varied exhibition and one person’s quality is not necessarily the same as another’s.
  • I am an artist who makes books who was in Sheffield to give a lecture on Artist’s Books. I thought the exhibition was an adequate survey of books being made.
  • Brilliant – Wanted to OWN it.


Most respondents who entered the prize were happy with the communication channels during the event. 76% stated that they felt the communication channels were good, very good or excellent. Only 16% ratted communication as adequate, with 8% stating it was poor.

The additional comments about the communication channels suggested that many entrants did not feel that they had heard enough about the winners.

“I’d have liked more communication from you about who had won…a friend of mine came runner up in one of the categories and he had no communication from you about it.”

“There didn’t seem to be a lot of presence on social media or on the website.”

However, there were many more positive and appreciative comments that acknowledged the scale of organization involved.

 “I was aware that the organisers were under pressure for the time line, but they answered e-mail queries, and also changed text at my request”.

There is clearly some scope for improving the communication channels for future prizes. However, if the administrative side of the prize is streamlined with easier systems and online entry, this would free up some time to improve communications on the SIABP social media platforms, through the mailing list and on the website.

  • A little confusing who the winners were. I am still not sure.
  • I emailed my concern re the terrible photograph of my work and attached a better one, but my email was ignored.
  • I had expected more information via Facebook.
  • I was impressed with the prompt email notifications, and appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback on catalogue entries and this survey.
  • Thank you very much for all the work and taking so good care of everything! My porcelain book arrived ok in Amsterdam, thank you for packing it so good!
  • I was the runner up in the student prize and didn’t actually know about it until a friend told me she had seen it in an online newsletter! I had very little official communication/acknowledgement from the event about it which was a little confusing. But to be fair, my enquiries were eventually answered and I realise that dealing with the large volume of entries would have been a challenge for anybody!
  • Always personable and clear.
  • At first it was excellent, but when the photo they put in the catalogue did not bear any relationship to my artwork, they were nasty (and did not change the photo) …a friend who went to the exhibit said my work was displayed properly, but not in the catalogue
  • I felt very well informed and consulted.
  • There was noresponse to questions or your staff reacted rude and not professional.
  • My concerns about the catalogue were addressed very quickly and in great detail.
  • I was aware that the organisers were under pressure for the time line, but they answered email queries, and also changed text at my request, even though the blurb stated that they would only do so under exceptional circumstances.
  • I think more information could have been posted on the Bank Street website once the winners had been selected, and maybe an e-mail shot being sent out to entrants about who won.
  • I’d have liked more communication from you about who had won and in what categories. A friend of mine came runner up in one of the categories, and he had had no communication from you about it.He only found out through another friend who was looking through the website. Also there is no one answering the Facebook group for Bank Street Arts – I messaged them a while ago asking if I could use one of their photos of my work on my blog.  Still had no reply from them.
  • I was very impressed with how well you kept me informed about everything. I appreciated the opportunity to preview information about my work.
  • I felt after the catalogue was finished no-one got in touch to say what was going on. I don’t know who has won or if there was an exhibition.
  • I found the email format a bit scattered.
  • There didn’t seem to be a lot of presence on social media or on the website. There seemed to be a barrier between the organizers and the entrants.

Judging and the Prizes

One of the main elements of the prize considered important to entrants was the jury prize. 58% stated that they felt this was an important aspect of the competition. An exhibition for the winners was considered to be of equal importance. 50% of stated that the public vote was important. The prize money was deemed to be of least importance with only 25% of respondents listing this.

Additional Comments:

  • An exhibition of the selected entries.
  • All prizes are valuable but not the most important part of exhibiting.
  • In fact I don’t like the idea of prizes.
  • I don’t see why I have to answer this. I don’t like competitions.- I don’t vote and don’t expect to win.
  • I tend to think all prizes are very subjective – the exhibition opportunity for as many entries as possible is the most important.
  • I don’t rate the prizes.
  • From memory the winners weren’t particularly noticeable due to the quantity of entries, maybe a winners table/shelf would have drawn attention to them?
  • Indifferent.
  • The public vote is interesting but some vote for a friend. To be able to vote one needs a thorough survey. I’m not sure people had that much time to cover everything.
  • All important for different people, for myself the money, jury, public and exhibition would be the most!
  • I liked that my book was part of a collection that can be browsed.

The website and catalogue

The survey showed the SIABP website to have been visited fairly frequently by entrants. 40% visited the website between 2 and 4 times: 28% between 5 and 7 times and the same number again 8 times or more.

The most common reasons for visiting the website were connected to entry procedures with 86% going online to find out the rules of entry, and 84% to download an entry form.

The website proved to be an important resource for entrants to SIABP 2013. This is possibly due to the international nature of the prize, and the fact that this is the main source of information for many entrants. This suggests that there may be scope to make the SIABP website more central to the prize, and for it to play a key role in the submission process for future prizes. 

The catalogue was very popular among entrants to the prize. 69% said they had bought a copy of the catalogue.

Individual comments were mainly very positive.

“You did a wonderful job on the catalogue…it is a great resource to browse…since it is an international competition, it would have been nice to know which country each artist came from”.

“I love the catalogue. My only wish would be to have more information about each of the entries and the artists who created them”.

There were some negative comments regarding the catalogue. These were largely about the photography – stating that they were unhappy with the photograph used. Again, introducing a digital submission process, whereby the artists were required to submit photographs that they would be happy to have in the catalogue would solve this.

Additional Comments:

  • I bought 2 copies. The catalogue is really very interesting and shows the multifarious creativity of the international artists.
  • There wasn’t enough time for me to buy the catalogue, also still trying to find the Paypal working process.
  • Pleased to have it.
  • Good format, useful reminder of entries, good to see my entry in print.
  • Impressive.
  • Catalogue is fine, only with the delivery it didn´t work so good out.
  • There were some amusing typos but overall an impressive edition.
  • For someone like me in a foreign country it is great to be able to get some idea of the exhibition entries and I would always be likely to buy a catalogue.
  • You did a wonderful job on the catalogue. It is a great resource to browse, and to try to follow up on artists whose books are especially appealing. Since it is an international competition, it would have been nice to know which country each artist came from and perhaps that can be included in future publications.
  • Clearly presented catalogue.
  • As I donated my book to the permanent collection it would be good to receive the catalogue for free.
  • Should be alphabetical, some of the photography – mine included – was terrible.
  • It is difficult to find a particular book. It needs an alphabetical index.
  • I know it was al lot of work in a short time, so I do not want to be too critical……but I was not very happy with the photograph of my work in the book, too much zoomed-in, I saw that you made a much better photograph of my work on the entry number card.
  • I love the catalogue. My only wish would be to have more information about each of the entries and the artists who created them. I think you are going to cover this with the online catalogue, so that will be nice. Printing quality and how it was organized was wonderful!
  • I liked so much the catalogue. Unfortunately I didn’t visit the exhibition. I live in Brazil. I went several times to England (from London to Newcastle) and I intend to visit you in the future.
  • I realise it was easier to compile the catalogue with the entrants in order of applying. However it is very hard to find a particular entrant – a compromise would be an alphabetical artists index included at the front or back of the book.
  • It was the only way for me to see the exhibits (and get a sense of the quality of the work).
  • Excellent catalogue – very pleased & proud to have my work included in it!
  • It was an excellent catalogue, a great reference and memory aid.
  • Great catalogue easy to order.
  • I like the catalogue a lot
  • Fewer artists with larger images of their art might be better (more prestigious).
  • I understand that there was a lot of work to do, but in many cases the photographs were poor, perhaps better to use those of the artist who knows the work best?
  • I could not attend the exhibition, so I bought the catalogue to enjoy seeing other people’s amazing book ideas.
  • The catalogue was good, particularly liked the inclusion of articles.
  • Very happy with the catalogue. An alphabetical index may be helpful, though I realise this is administratively time consuming.
  • I thought it was a good quality catalogue.I would have liked to see an index of artists and their country of origin included.
  • An index would be helpful.
  • I was happy with the catalogue but I would rather have had my image shown.
  • It was comprehensive and very professionally done. I was happy with it.
  • There is an inconsistency in the images depicting the books, some are shown as three dimensional open book structures others are simply represented by a single page which does not seem to do them justice as books, it reduces the book to two dimensional “illustration”. Description of book structures / binding styles would add interest for me.
  • It’s too generic; too many entries, largely indistinguishable.
  • I wanted to support the event and it’s nice to be able to see the other entries – and I wanted Angie Butler’s print (:
  • Hard to find a specific artist’s work.
  • I will love to but I have online payment issue to non-profit organization in Singapore. I still want to buy a copy if there is other way to make payment.
  • Liked the catalogue a lot – good balance of articles and information about the entries.
  • The catalogue was excellent, and I also like having an output from the exhibition which I can keep as documentation.
  • I was pleased to have bought a copy – it was a nice memento of entering and as there were so many entries I actually looked through it beforehand and made a ‘shopping list’ of books that sounded interesting to seek out at the exhibition.
  • You did a nice job. I liked that we had the opportunity to preview our entries. I would have selected different photos of my work, but I understand there we so many entries.
  • Catalogue must be free for the participants.
  • I thought the catalogue was informative and interesting and gave a very good idea of the range of work being produced.
  • Liked catalogue although huge with so many entries to include, hence probably prefer fewer entries and take a chance on getting selected.
  • I still would like to buy one.
  • While the catalogue did the job well with so many artists taking part. If you do lower the amount of entries a more attractive layout to the catalogue would be a good idea.
  • Between the catalogue and mailing cost it was too expensive for me.
  • I liked that you saw all the entries. It gave a good overview.
  • Pics were very small – slightly bigger would be better space/cost allowing.
  • It’s a beautiful catalogue. I had made ​​more beautiful professional images are available, but unfortunately it was not used.
  • Picture too small.
  • It would be nice to give the catalogue free for the entrants, but I understand that with the volume of the entrants it’s financially tough. The catalogue could have been edited better, some of the pictures were of poor quality and didn’t present the works well.

Other Comments

We also offered those surveyed the option of adding other comment not covered by the specific questions and received the following comments and suggestions:

From visitors:

  • Would have been nice if some one had bothered to use email list to let visitors know who had won -!! Wanted to know if books were changed in position regularly in exhibition – positioning would affect what easily accessible and there for what most voted on. Would have liked more info on artists.
  • I ventured from Wales to Sheffield one dark winter weekend and was nourished and inspired by the beautiful art in your gallery. Thank you. I will make a conscious effort to visit the exhibition again.
  • I recognise it is a small gallery but I would have found it useful to have a seating area with a table, so I could sit down with any books that I was particularly interested in or which were particularly large and cumbersome. I was worried about dropping and damaging the books.
  • I meant to say in one of the responses (how I rated exhibition I think) at the start I didn’t realize there were several rooms of books. Had I done, I might have paced myself differently in viewing the books. Spent most of my time in the main room. I gave a raring of very good instead of exceptional for this reason. However, it was an amazing exhibition. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see the works. Thank you.
  • It is a wonderful opportunity for all artists to exhibit their work and in a very welcoming venue.
  • Interesting exhibition. The information could have been clearer – I didn’t realise that I could handle the books to look at properly until about half way round
  • It would be good if the there was more info about the process of how the books were made. Perhaps grouping similar books in rooms.
  • I was amazed by the exhibition – I thought it was one of the most engaging exhibitions I have visited. I look forward to the next one!
  • This was an excellent exhibition in many ways. Please keep it going if you can!
  • I’m going to enter a book for the next one, I’m not a fan of novels, crime thrillers romances, detective novels, historical books etc . but I love poetry and art and to me the whole objects were the form the work the poetry and not just the conventional form of communicating in words. I like art that pushes against formal conventions and these works did so beautifully.
  • Previously knew very little about artists books but was interested. This gave me a feast of them and I loved it and am fired to try to make one.
  • It would be interesting to know who won the prizes! Not sure how we were meant to find out.
  • I’m happy to see more books so if there is plenty to display in the café then do.
  • A most enjoyable and inspiring visit – I left with lots of inspiration.First visit to Sheffield since the late 1980s – most impressed with the city and planning a return visit before too long.
  • Better signage outside the gallery would help. I go past it on a regular basis by bus and never realised it was there, so people who don’t get down that way are really missing out on a little gem of a place.
  • I found it inspiring.
  • I thought it was a wonderful event with a fantastic range of books. There was rather a large amount to look at and it probably required several visits to really absorb each book individually. But overall it was lovely.
  • Looking forward to next year.
  • Perhaps greater publicity would help, as I only read about it by chance.
  • Please hold one in 2014. I found 2013 inspiring.
  • Keep up the good work.I hope to come back to see the 2014 exhibition!
  • I just thought it a wonderful exhibition, very original in scope.I hope it happens again and I can see it then.
  • I think the exhibition was excellent and deserved a higher public profile. Possibly a feature on ‘Look North’?
  • I would like to buy catalogues from previous years.
  • I would like University of Sheffield Private Presses collection to get more credit.
  • I think in Kindleworld this is ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT.
  • It was a privilege for the public to be able to touch the books but I felt in respect for the artist’s work gloves should have been provided.

From Participants:

  • I feel very privileged to have my work in your gallery. I value the fact that you will exhibit my work and that it is in a UK collection.
  • Thank you. It was a super opportunity to exhibit with other Artists. So many lovely books and very inspiring. I thought the lay out was superb as if each book was as important as the next one. I hope perhaps I may have an opportunity to enter again at a later stage. Being able to collaborate with my Granddaughter was a brilliant experience for her.
  • I have never seen such a badly taken and inappropriate image of my work used for publication. It was a detail of some text from one page of a mixed media book. The image did nothing to convey the nature of the book, or concept behind it. I politely raised these concerns when I proof read my entry and sent a more appropriate photograph, as an example. My email was not replied to and the appalling photograph was published in a catalogue that didn’t have the artist’s names in alphabetical order. I appreciate it is a huge job to photograph such a large number of works, but if you are not able to do that competently, why don’t you ask the artists to supply images for reproduction? It is also not that difficult to order participants alphabetically. Both of these factors mean I have lost confidence in the event and it’s organisers and I am afraid I am unlikely to enter another year, or recommend it to my networks.
  • It was good to have the opportunity to have my work displayed in an international exhibition; although I have been making books for many years and belong to a Book Arts group it is the first time I have had a book on display in an exhibition.
  • I would like to congratulate you for organizing this event. It was very well organized and we enjoyed the catalogue.
  • As I live in the U.S. I was unable to view the exhibition. Next time I’m in the U.K. however I do hope to make the trip to Sheffield to visit the Arts Centre. Keep up the good work!
  • It was a privilege to be part of a UK book arts event.
  • I have enjoyed entering the prize on two occasions and have visited your collection from previous prizes online.It is a great opportunity for International entrants to have their work shown in a different country.
  • It has been a very positive experience for me and I would certainly enter again. With the exhibition of entries and the lectures and other activities, I would certainly try and schedule a visit to the UK to coincide with the Book Prize, all else being equal. A big thank you to everyone involved for promoting and supporting bookbinding and the book arts today.
  • Keep up the great work.
  • I would like to buy a catalogue of the exhibition if it is still possible and if that catalogue can be save in a digital format like pdf?
  • I like the fact that we have a comprehensive collection of Artists Books in Sheffield. I think, when I look at my motives when choosing a book to send this year, I chose something that I could afford to give away, rather than something that I seriously thought might win a prize. (Unlike in the last exhibition, when I gave a unique book because I liked the idea of a local book collection). I suspect that if the competition changes, then the submissions will change. The problem with two stage submission is that for books you need at least two images per submission. You can’t simply judge on one image. Suggestion: I have applied recently for two book fairs through ‘Curatorial Space’. This could develop into a useful site.
  • Again, thanks for all the work! I hope to join next year!
  • I feel very honoured to have been included in this show this year. I love the idea that visitors can pick up the books and experience them in a tactile manner. Your work with this show is helping to spread the word about the unique nature of the “art of the book” and especially, artists’ books which are portable works of art. This has been an incredible amount of work for your group, and you should be commended for the amazing effort put into all aspects of the show. Well done, good and faithful servants of the book arts world, well done!
  • With the large number of entries it makes sense to limit the quantity. Digital pre-selection makes sense too, but as books are complex 3D items I think a large number of images should be permitted for submission and even videos of the finished work, showing binding, how the book opens etc.
  • I would like to say congratulations and well done to all involved in the mechanics of the prize exhibition and I wish I could have come to visit. Thanks for the photos of the exhibition (unfortunately I couldn’t see my work in them).
  • I would just like to thank the organizers, volunteers and all involved in the organization of the prize.I regret not donating my book and given the opportunity I certainly would next time. Thanks for all your effort, I know what a big amount of work it takes to organise such an exhibition.
  • Maybe limiting the exhibition to the top 100, with the winners clearly defined might make the explosion of books more manageable! But then again, there was something different about being able to browse hundreds of books all at the same time. The website/communication could be a bit clearer as it took a while to discover that I was a Jury prize runner-up in the student category. And even now the link to the Jury selection on the website is broken/dead/removed, which means I can’t show proud relatives what I’ve done! 🙁 But overall, I liked how one could just enter a book at a bookfair stall with a minimum of fuss. It’s also great to have a competition/exhibition devoted to Book Arts as well. Despite the communication problems I’ll definitely enter again when I feel I’ve got a good entry to submit!
  • I think you all do/did a very good job with organizing an event like this and I hope you go on with it in the future.
  • Every aspect of this book competition was handled professionally and brilliantly by those in charge. I was surprised–and pleased–by the way they communicated regularly with me, took the time necessary to make sure the information about my submission was accurate, and treated me as an artist. I have participated in other book arts competitions that charged hefty entry fees but never communicated with me, published poorly edited information about my entry (or no information at all), and treated me with disdain. Kudos to all who put in so much time to make this the book arts prize the one that everyone talks about with excitement. One suggestion, which I hesitate to make because I know carrying it out would create more work for those involved: Perhaps there could be some recognition for the artists whose books were on the judges’ longish short list (the 130 or so this year), if only by letting those artists know they were on the list. (Perhaps this is done and I don’t know about it because my entry was not on that list.) To find out that a judge felt my work was of some value would mean so much to me, and I am sure other artists would appreciate this form of recognition, too.
  • I wish the special price for the catalogue has lasted longer.
  • It was a big exhibition viewed in a very friendly atmosphere. It was obvious that it required a lot from the organization. All in all, as a foreigner, I thought the whole episode was well structured.
  • This has proved to be a great opportunity for me and I am very grateful for it. Thank you.
  • When do you post a Picture and description of the entries 2013 on the website?
  • Although I appreciate the necessity to reduce the entries and exhibitors to the prize, it’s great that an international open free artists book prize such as this exists and it would be a shame to do away with the open aspect altogether, perhaps showing all entries online would be a compromise.
  • I appreciated seeing the close-ups of the winning entries, so that I could read text and see the details, which was not possible in broad shot from the exhibition. I was also curious what jury liked.
  • I will certainly enter the prize again. I am happy to have my catalogue as a souvenir, and to see the scope and variety of the works entered. And for the essays regarding the prize. All very inspiring, thank you!
  • Please go ahead. Best wishes.
  • I think it is a huge responsibility for those coordinating the event but a very worthwhile undertaking and a boon for the artist book making community.Considering the amount of entries now being received I can understand the thought processes being hinted at through this survey for jurying the show and feel this route would take a lot of pressure off the organising body and give a better, more concise exhibition resulting in a more prestigious event. I was very happy to be part of the 2013 event but feel the great number of books presented made it difficult to exhibit the books to their best advantage and for audience members to take in what was on offer.  As an artist making sculptural book works, I would rather have my books exhibited in their sculptural form over being inhibited by lack of space and having only the outside covers being able to be shown.  No point being lost in the crowd 🙂
  • This was a great exhibition.One of the best things I’ve seen in Sheffield.  Inspiring and exciting.  I should have won, though, obviously.  🙂
  • I would like to see a theme used to respond to either for the whole exhibition or as an extra category to enter.
  • An amazing feat of organization.
  • Please do keep the event going, as a new book artist but longstanding artist, I have found few other opportunities to exhibit my books, in fact this was my first formal exhibition. The fact that all approaches to creating a book from the use of traditional / historical structures to very contemporary less “book” like structures are shown side by side is important. It is important to me that the Artists Book Prize is about the whole book, content, structure, and binding, the whole object which visitors can pick up and read unlike other organisations like designer bookbinders which concentrates on the binding displaying books in glass cases.
  • I submit to have the opportunity to share my work across a broader audience and appreciate the opportunity to do so with the Sheffield International Book Prize.
  • I was thrilled to be a part of the exhibition and am hoping to attend the event at some point in the future.
  • From my perspective, “the prize” remains mostly unknown.
  • I should prefer a limited number of books to be selected for the exhibition. That would also create a better catalogue with larger and sharper Photos. I should also prefer that the Photos in the catalogue are showing the entire Works and not only a detail.
  • I thought your exhibition was extremely professional and showed a real love of art books. I was pleased with the catalogue and pleased that my book will be on your site. Could be that accepting every book needs to be reconsidered …. but I’m glad that my book has a home. Many thanks!
  • Thank you for the opportunity to win a prize and exhibition.
  • The photograph given for my book was taken at an oblique angle – I understand this because the book is an odd shape – but I didn’t feel that it represented the work well. I would have preferred to submit a photograph. Perhaps this could be an option for submission, though there may be technical problems with receiving large numbers of high definition images or having to reject images that are not up to quality for printing.
  • It was great, incredible variety as to what a book can be. Loved it and hope that it continues.
  • I think it’s important that there are opportunities for exhibiting work – any work! – for people who are not art graduates or financially well off enough to be able to fund their own exhibitions. SIABP seems to be one of the few opportunities in Sheffield where this is possible, and whilst I recognise that not all of the entries were from Sheffield, far from it in fact, the opportunity to participate in something substantial seems to me to be a significant part of why there were so many entries (as well as people getting to know about it now it has run for a few years). I think it would be a loss to Bank Street Arts if you decide to lose this participatory element. If it is removed from the Book Prize perhaps it could be incorporated into BSA in another way which has similar prestige.
  • Sadly I didn’t get to see the exhibition as I live a long way off and couldn’t afford time off work.I’d love to try and see it next year, it looked incredible.  Also I had some nice emails from people who had seen my work in the exhibition, which was really nice – one of them was from a school teacher who wanted to buy the work. Hopefully see you at the next exhibition!
  • You have an excellent organization and contest. I would love the opportunity to visit. I imagine that you have one of the largest collections of artist’s books in the world. Are there opportunities for visiting scholars/artists to help maintain the collection while working on a scholarly study of artist’s books?
  • I was glad to be a part of it.
  • Keep up the good work!
  • The prize obviously galvanizes a lot of artists into sending in work and it also offers encouragement to students and other young artists. In a climate where less and less encouragement is given to the Arts The Sheffield International Book Prize is a focus for some young artists who might otherwise feel that they were working in something resembling a vacuum.
  • I think everyone should be emailed about who has won the prize, even if you haven’t got through, it’s nice to receive a message, just so you know.
  • Thank you for offering the opportunity.
  • It did seem as if perhaps there was a struggle with the level of entrants. There was a lack of fun to the whole process which I feel the competition would benefit from. There needs to be more communication between the organizers and people entering the competition.
  • It would have been nice to be able to see what the exhibition looked like, a shame there was no photo material to see what it was like for those that could not visit the exhibition.
  • Restrict entries.
  • It’s just a great opportunity for book artists outside of London to get their work out from under the bed and an incentive to do more work.I wholeheartedly support the pluralistic ethos of the organisers and I think it really encourages book artists of all experience and age, to participate.
  • I found it very inspiring to be part of the exhibition. I realise that it may need to be limited in future years to make it more manageable, but I hope that it doesn’t become too exclusive. The accessibility of the competition and the diversity of the exhibition were the major part of its appeal.
  • I liked the open character and the diversity of entries.
  • Overall I think the exhibition was very successful and presented well. In one way I think that it was great that everyone who entered was put in the exhibition because it made the whole thing very inclusive. However I do think that there were too many entries and it became a little overwhelming. I also think that because of putting all the submissions into the exhibition some of the books’ quality was a little lower than it should have been for an internationally recognised art prize. Also I was a little unhappy with the catalogue as the picture used for my entry was in my view unsatisfactory and did not convey what my book actually looked like. I understand that the team putting it together were under a lot of pressure to get it finished in time, but I think the fact that we got an email with a mock up of our page and were asked to give the team any changes such as spelling mistakes or other issues and then the fact that my feedback about how I was unhappy with the image used was then ignored is actually quite annoying. Again, if the number of entries was limited then the catalogue would have been easier to handle and put together. I love book arts and will definitely be submitting work in the future!
  • I answered “it was free so I thought I might as well” to the question about why did you enter, but a small entry fee (up to 10 pounds or so) would not put me off at all. A larger entry fee would make me think a bit more carefully about whether entering was worthwhile for me but I might still enter.
  • If you keep a book for the collection, it would be fair to offer some money to cover costs or at least a gesture. For example, my book cost £35 to make, that is why I did not offer it to the permanent collection. You may be loosing out on some of the most interesting books for this reason. I understand that this would not be possible for every book, but perhaps a selection? Then the collection itself becomes more prestigious and more artists would want to enter.

Suggestions for SIABP 2015 and beyond

Some of the Conclusions made based on the Surveys were as follows:

  • Digital first-stage submission process.
  • Make more of the SIABP website – Interactive/online archive?
  • Reduce the scale of the exhibition, but create opportunities for other artists (e.g. part of the online archive/permanent collection at BSA).
  • Less time spent on time-consuming admin (eliminated by digital submission?)
  • More emphasis on communication channels and online presence.
  • Maintain some of the democratic elements of the prize, but introduce some limitations to ease drain on time & resources.
  • Fewer books in the exhibition. Possibility of showing all books at different times in the year (e.g. student prize exhibition, jury selected etc. This may clarify categories of the prize (for example people seemed unaware of the jury selected books).
  • Engage visitors beyond their visit to the exhibition, through the website (interactive archive?), e-mail contact (opportunity to sell catalogue at discounted price?).