Artist's Paintings on Discarded Library Books Tell an Evocative Story (Video)

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Mike Stilkey sculpture/photo by Paula Guinto via Flickr

With the increasing popularity of electronic readers, many are predicting that books will go the way of the dinosaur soon. Nevertheless, books are still as popular as ever; and even if they do become irrelevant, they can still be re-used in imaginative ways, be it for installations, furniture or stylish lamps.

Old books can also become an artist's canvas. Los Angeles-based painter Mike Stilkey re-uses books that he salvages from library dumpsters as canvases for his large-scale works, stacking them up and painting directly on their spines. Many of these books cannot be recycled due to a high amount of glue in them.

Stilkey utilizes a mix of ink, coloured pencil, paint and lacquer to realize his vibrant pieces, which often feature fantastical and fanciful images of people and animals, thanks to earlier influences from "Weimar-era German expressionism."

A completely self-taught artist, Stilkey's unconventional medium and aesthetic reflect his younger years spent entrenched in the underground DIY ethics of skateboarding and graffiti culture.

His penchant for anthropomorphizing animals stems from his view that they are as equally ensouled as humans, and this belief is also reflected in his choice to be vegetarian.

Stilkey's works have ranged from smaller pieces on watercolour paper, to small book sculptures, to enormous installations of hundreds of books that have been set up in libraries, universities and galleries the world over. His emotionally evocative style, painted on the bodies on discarded books, seems to say that these forgotten tomes have yet another story to tell. More over at Mike Stilkey's website and Facebook page.