A Thread Connects Them

Book Arts introduced students to traditional book-binding skills.

Where would our culture be without the written word? From hand-bound monographs, through the invention of movable type, to the digital age, books have been the reservoir of our culture. Last fall, Creative Art Works offered two after-school programs at PS/MS 278 in Upper Manhattan that appealed to both bibliophiles and techies. Students in our Book Arts programs learned traditional and modern book-binding techniques that focused on the book as a work of art. Students in our Digital Arts class got a different sort of hands-on experience. They used Adobe Photoshop to combine words and pictures to create virtual art.

While these programs seem to be as different as black and white, there is a thread that connects them. “Design is design,” said CAW Teaching Artist Brandi Martin Yu, who taught both programs. “There are basic rules of visual communication that apply whether you are working with print or pixels.”

The book as art. You can hold this in your hand.

Virtual art as a book. This collage of digital images only exists on a computer.

Teaching Artist Brandi Martin Yu with students in the Digital Arts program at PSMS 278.

Teaching Artist Brandi Martin Yu with students in the Digital Arts program at PSMS 278.

Design is design, whether you are cutting and pasting with paper and scissors or ‘cutting and pasting’ on a computer. Kids who have a chance to do both make those connections.
— Teaching Artist Brandi Martin Yu

Endless Possiblities

Students in the Digital Arts class were free to repeatedly explore (and un-do) different combinations of text and images.


Students in the Book Arts class learned to marble paper — each end paper is unique.


Creative Art Works’ after-school program at PSMS 278 is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.