unbound by francisca prieto



Whenever we feature work that involves altering books, it stirs up a storm of emotion and discussion. You would think that over the years, I’d have built a resistance to that sort of backlash, but it still makes me nervous, as I brace for impact each time. However, I can’t look at these beautiful pieces from Francisca Prieto and not see the beauty, hard work and skill that went into each one. Francisca’s newest series, UNBOUND, is on exhibition right now at jaggedart in London. UNBOUND turns torn and damaged books, catalogues, encyclopedias and other printed matter into new artwork by deconstructing them to create a new visual narrative. I love the way Francisca considers both the text, images and story of the books when creating each piece. The pieces made from German maps (below) are particularly beautiful in that they look and feel like the topography mapped on the page. You can view more of Francisca’s work right here or visit it in person through November 4th at jaggedart. xo, grace



  1. Arielle says:

    I love it.

    Instead of throwing outdated, wrecked, or unused books in the trash, why not create something beautiful and new to be cherished just like that book was once originally?

    I assume/hope that anyone who does work like this is conscious, deliberate, and thoughtful about where she gets her materials.

    Just thoughts of the top of my head, thanks for sharing, Grace. I think they’re great.

  2. Claire says:

    I love books, but I really don’t understand why anyone would get up in arms over book art. Books are objects just like any other; they’re not inherently sacred. Unless the artist is deconstructing a hugely valuable first edition or something, I don’t see the problem. A lot of books aren’t worth much, especially if they’re damaged to begin with, as the books Prieto’s using are. People throw books like that away all the time–this is a much better, and much more beautiful fate.

    Keep posting book art–I can’t get enough of it!

  3. Alex says:

    I usually feel a little weird about tearing up a book, but this is amazing work! As in, I’m considering experimenting this weekend with different ways I could do this in my home!

  4. Amy Flurry says:

    As a paper artist, I continue to marvel at how paper can be manipulated into something so beautiful. And in many ways, this reinterpretation of the author’s story is simply part of the continuum.

  5. I don’t see anything wrong with taking badly damaged books and turning them into something beautiful. I think where most people get upset or uneasy is when someone takes a perfectly beautiful old book and cuts it up to turn it into something else.

  6. It must take so long to finish a piece like that. But oh my, the result is so beautiful!

  7. monica says:

    beautiful. (and I loooove books)

  8. Echo says:

    LOVE this! What a great take on a cathedral quilt.. love the color combos that the books provide.

  9. Katie says:

    This is amazing. And I want it. One of my favorite thing in the world is maps, so I can see why this might seem like a problem… I love to pour over them and consider all the places that exist, how they have changed. So, I especially old maps like these.

    However, seeing them deconstructed in such a way adds such a new perspective of what someone else saw in the same old maps, that I can’t help but adore the application. Think about how cool it would be to see this done with the millions of NY MTA maps! Those are updated constantly, so there is far less of a conflict.

    I also appreciate that she uses old, outdated, and damaged items. I wonder if she’d take donations… I think I have a college statistics book that they would let me sell back. I’d much rather see it repurposed than thrown out! Or my old magazines… I have a flobitygillion of them….

  10. Laura says:

    Her work is beautiful. If you like this, I bet you will enjoy Abigail Reynolds work. http://curiousdoodles.blogspot.com/2011/10/abigail-reynolds-geometric-cut-art.html

  11. Elizabeth says:

    does anyone know what origami fold that is? would love to make a small gift for a baby.

  12. My focus in grad school was book arts and I *totally* appreciate this art in whatever form it comes. Thanks for sharing! This work is particularly impressive.

  13. Ashley says:

    I was wonder the origami fold as well, I love this!

  14. Nik says:

    This is beautiful. They look like the ‘fortune teller’ my friends and I used to make in high school! I really like the idea of using maps as I like Katie, have a thing for maps of all types and places. I cringed a little when I thought of the destruction of books, probably just because I still hold the belief that books hold information and the key to knowledge and wisdom.I know it’s an old school philosophy. I’d honestly rather see books upcycled this way than trashed altogether.

  15. So gorgeous!! Love the detail shots!

  16. I love the subtlety of the colours. My seven year old daughter recently created a very similar origami artwork out of origami chatterboxes… with no guidance at all from me. It’s amazing. You can see it here (scroll down):

    http://theredthreadblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/diy-affordable-art-part-3-origami.html

  17. Tami says:

    These. Are. Incredible! Thank you for showing us these amazing works.

    I think the ‘backlash’ you get so nervous about has nothing to do with people getting upset about altering books in any way. It’s just that – at least recently – you’ve featured projects which seek to obliterate books’ essential natures. Books are important, treasured sources of information and imagination. These recent projects treat them like they’re simply decor, or worse, alarming discordant things which need to be hidden or disguised. That’s a huge difference from Ms. Prieto’s work, which focuses on and honors the beauty contained within the original works.

  18. Francisca says:

    Thank you for your comments. Tami, you are right, it is my love and admiration for books, specially old ones that lead me to create the Between Folds series.

    I admire the dedication with which so many people work to put them together. The quality of the illustrations, dedication of the typesetter, precision of the binder, etc. make them into stunning art pieces, but the ones I work with have somehow lost their value due to damage by water, worms, missing pages, broken spine or other defects so I love to give them back their glory.

    I like to keep as much of the book as possible, sometimes I manage to use every single page, including the end papers and a bit from the cover. I just want people to look at them in detail and treasure them in a different way.

  19. Francisca says:

    Thank you for your comments. Tami, you are right, it is my love and admiration for books, especially old ones that lead me to create the Between Folds series.

    I admire the dedication with which so many people work to put them together. The quality of the illustrations, dedication of the typesetter, precision of the binder, etc. make them into stunning art pieces, but the ones I work with have somehow lost their value due to damage by water, worms, missing pages, broken spine or other defects so I love to give them back their glory.

    I like to keep as much of the book as possible, sometimes I manage to use every single page, including the end papers and a bit from the cover. I just want people to look at them in detail and treasure them in a different way.

  20. Nina Garner says:

    I’m an artist that uses vintage books and found objects. I see it as giving new life to otherwise discarded and forgotten materials. Francisca Prieto’s work is beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Origami Underground says:

    It is a simple origami fold.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.