1. Pick out a book.
This might be one around your house that's seen better days, a book at a local chain store that they're selling for a dollar on clearance, or one at a garage sale that's about the right size for what you want to do. I would suggest, at least at first, that the book be hardcover. Otherwise it has a tendency to fall apart, and if you aren't prepared to rebind it somehow, it can be disappointing. Pick it by the title, by some content you like, or by the illustrations. Just pick one.

2. Grab a paintbrush.
This is the hardest part, so we'll do it quick. Just open it to a random page, and cover it with paint. Keep some words unpainted or give it a design or texture -- whatever you want to do. But just do it. Taking that first step and altering your first page will make the rest of it easier.

3. Do whatever you want to do.
Cut a page out and replace it with one of your own. Or collage over the page. Add in fold-out pages. Use rubber stamps or paint, decoupage or other embellishments. Drill holes in it or make a diorama in it by cutting out a window in bunches of pages. Weave things through holes in the pages, or put together found-word poetry on various pages.

There are no rules. This is a hard concept for people who think that everything has to have a process with a beginning and an end and steps inbetween, but it's really true. There ARE no rules.

4. Stop when you're done.
If that's one page, fine. If that's all the pages, it's also fine. You may find that you have to remove some pages to get the thing to close. Good. Do that. Or don't, and add a clasp to the cover so you can keep it closed when you want to.

Don't worry about making a mistake, either. There are no mistakes. Every mistake can be either a) turned into something else, b) collaged or pasted over, or c) ripped out. There are no mistakes because there are no rules.

(If you make one, I'd love to see it. Email me for my address.)

5. (optional) Get other people involved.
If you join the AlteredBooks list @, there are more than a thousand people who share your (inevitable) enthusiasm just waiting to work in your book. Many of them are fabulous artists that will really enhance your book with their creativity, in fact.

Alternately, you could pass the book around to your friends, letting them each alter a page or two of their own, which makes the project more personal.

And, as if that's not enough, you can always grab a copy of the HOW TO ALTER A BOOK zine that I put out a few months back, which has fourteen actual techniques for altering your own books into pieces of amazingly unique A R T! (It's available again now.)

Whatever you do, have fun.
After all, fun and self-expression are what art is all about.


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