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The Man Who Upcycles Books into Art

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Books are the ultimate recycled product–they’re meant to be passed down from person to person, as libraries illustrate perfectly. They can be stacked and used as side-tables; hollowed out and used to hide money (a more common trick than you’d think!), and of course, they serve as rather lofty decorative objects when old and leather-clad.

But  has discovered, even if they are cracked, mouldy and missing pages, they can also be used as the background for artworks. Forget doodling on the inner covers of textbooks:  Joseph Decamillis has taken this practice to a whole new level.

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Decamillis is the man who upcyles books into art. His work is a whimsical example of mixed media, in which he takes old discarded books and adds his miniature postage stamp-sized illuminated paintings to the covers, framed in carved niches that emphasize the storytelling nature of his work. Each finished book becomes a totally unique dimensional art piece, collaging elements of the book cover with his own oil-painted miniature paintings (on copper) and carefully selected text additions.

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All the books are indeed real, either found as discarded library books, thrift store bargains, or given by friends and family. Joe loves books and says he often researches the books he works with to find potential monetary or historical value before altering them.

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Joe paints his incredible miniature oil-paintings using brushes with brushes that have no more than three hairs each, allow him to work with extreme precision and detail. Once his work is finished, the book is sealed, never to be opened again, which is all very dramatic, but really, I just love looking at Joe’s work. They look like fabulous props from a surreal fairytale story. 

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Joseph Decamillis mixed media book art is available to buy on his website.

All images: Messy Nessy



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