Each year, Special Collections at RISD Library hosts a juried student artists' book contest to promote engagement with the book arts, investigation of the Library's artists' book collection, and creative production in the book form at RISD. The contest and accompanying exhibition attract on average 45 submissions from RISD undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students. All of the entries are displayed in the annual Library exhibit. A team of RISD faculty members and professional artists serves as juror(s), selecting prize winners from the submissions. All purchase prizes receive a cash reward, and the selected student-made artists' books become part of the Library's collection. This year is the 6th installment of this program.
In 2014 when I first started in Special Collections we began conversations about outreach and the idea of an artists’ book contest was born. The late Jan Baker, Graphic Design Professor was one of the first jurors for the original contest in 2015. After the contest we debriefed and Jan asked what was the greatest obstacle for this contest to continue. I said money. A few months pasted and I was informed that we had received an anonymous gift so that we could continue the contest. I would find out later, it was Jan’s gift.
In Jan’s words “The aim of this competition is to encourage faculty in all mediums at RISD to use the Artists’ Book Collection as inspiration for their classes; in addition, for students to be stimulated by the collection to create their own Artists’ Books.”
Starting with the 5th year, the contest is named for Jan Baker and Laurie Whitehill, the former Special Collections Librarian. Recognizing their legacy and their combined 60 years of dedication and passion in the field of Book Arts.
Claudia Covert, Special Collections Librarian
Grand Purchase Prize $500
Laurie Whitehill Purchase Prize $375
Award For Innovative Materials Purchase Prize $375
American Printing History Purchase Prize $375
Librarian's Choice Purchase Prize $250
Honorable Mentions ($100)
Honorable Mentions ($100)
We are very happy to announce that May Babcock is this year's juror.
May Babcock is an interdisciplinary artist based in Providence, Rhode Island. Her studio techniques combine hand papermaking, printmaking, sculpture, historical photography process, and book-arts techniques, creating artwork that addresses place. She teaches and exhibits widely, blogs about papermaking at www.paperslurry.com, serves on the Board of Directors for Hand Papermaking Magazine, and is piloting Pawtucket Paper Center, a community papermaking studio.
You can see more of May Babcock’s artwork at www.maybabcock.com and @maybabcock on Instagram.
RISD undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students are
invited to enter an artists' book they have completed in the past year
(December 2018 - December 2019).
The winning purchase prizes will be added to the
Fleet Library at RISD's Artists' Book collection.
Look for the next call in Fall 2020. Thank you!
Items not added to the Fleet Library at RISD collection can be picked up on or after Friday, May 8, 2020. We are happy to hold on to entries until Fall semester or mail your entry to you. Please contact us to make arrangements.
By submitting an entry from, you are acknowledging that you are exhibiting your work at your own risk, and releasing RISD, and their employees, from any and all liability for my work. In addition, you are granting permission for any images, video, or other digital forms of the submitted work to be used for publicity, promotion or any other purposes deemed desirable by the Fleet Library at RISD. This includes, but is not limited to, use within the library or RISD, library websites, and social networking websites. You also understand that if your entry is selected, it will be included in the Library’s Collection and will not be returned.