Inside The Artist’s Studio with Camille Riner

Some people aren’t sure what they want to do when they grew up but I knew it would be something to do with art. I was the kid that drew bunnies for everyone in elementary school, made costumes in middle school, and took an art class every semester in high school. When I went to college orientation, I visited the art department and felt right at home. After getting my undergraduate degree at the University of South Dakota and graduating with a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, I taught design and printmaking at Southwestern Michigan College. In 1998 my husband and I returned to South Dakota and started our own book publishing business. 

Camille Riner at her studio desk.

Camille Riner at her studio desk.

My name is Camille Riner and I work in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Welcome to my studio! I love my sunny space and the trees and granite outcroppings I see out my windows. In front of the windows is my computer desk where I spend a lot of time, but I also have two standing benches where I draw, assemble books, carve plates, and package orders. I have a Bunch etching press which, when not in use, is the perch for the home of my two budgies. In the corner, you will find my ukulele and several piles of books. It is a warm and comfortable space that I share with the Studio Birds, Cleo and Brindle.

The yard around Camille's Studio. We have been getting lots of snow this fall.

The yard around Camille’s Studio. We have been getting lots of snow this fall.

I enjoy working in my studio and the diverse jobs awaiting me every day. This can mean working on assembling books, creating a collage on my computer, filming a new YouTube video or any of the many odd jobs we all do every day. Occasionally I teach workshops to spread the excitement about making artist books with others. Through sales of my online patterns, I have discovered that people all over the world enjoy making artist books. 

DIY pattern for Wind and Snow petal fold ornament.

DIY coloring project pattern for “Wind and Snow” petal fold ornament.

Carving bench with new block waiting to be carved.

Bench with new block waiting to be carved.

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“Sanctuary” altered accordion book.

I use allegory in my prints to investigate abstract themes based on our universal human experience. I strive to convey wonder, hope, overcoming adversity, and self-discovery. While some connect to the meaning of my pieces right away, it might not be initially obvious to others. For example, my book “Sanctuary,” in the Small Works show, uses images of thorny plants and cactus to depict the struggle and cruelty sometimes found in our world. Throughout my art, I use the rabbit to express vulnerability, the bird as a connection to nature, and the terra-cotta-colored figures as our strongest selves. I also repeatedly use the moon and stars to represent hope: hope for the moment and hope in the future. 

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“Hope Garden” limited edition, altered tunnel book.

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“Take Courage” Turkish map fold book.

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“Sky of Blue, Sea of Green” altered accordion book.

I am excited to have been selected to show my piece, “Sanctuary” in the Small Works exhibition and grateful to have the opportunity to share my work on the Main Street Arts blog. I hope you’ll check out my holiday books and DIY holiday book ornament patterns in my Etsy Shop. Thank you! 

"Community" Hungarian map fold book, hanging ornament.

“Community” Hungarian map fold book, hanging ornament.

To contact me or see more of my artist books and tutorials: 

Website: camilleriner.com
Pinterest: camille riner artist books
Instagram: @camriner
Youtube: How to Make Artist Books 


Camille Riner is one of 112 artists included in the 6th annual Small Works exhibition at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of work 12 inches or less. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. Small Works runs through January 3, 2020.

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