From the Library of the Evil Orchid

Contest Winner! Michelle Duckworth

About a month ago I put out a call for entries for the "Evil Orchid Garden" bookplate contest, offering as a prize the book Alfred Kubin: Drawings 1897–1909.

Along with a host of lesser-known (but just-as-remarkable) artists, Kubin contributed macabre illustrations to Der Orchideengarten, a German publication (1919–21) which must "surely rank as one of the most beautiful fantasy magazines ever published" (in the words of Franz Rottensteiner).

Over the summer I featured scans from the 1919 issues, and somehow managed to score a batch of 1920 issues. The idea for a sequel was hatched: a Halloween extravaganza with AJRMS, Arthur Magazine [RIP], and feuilleton all posting material.


I asked contributors to include in their bookplates orchids and other flowers, corpses, giant insects, monsters, disease...

I was blown away by the creativity and variety of the results and I am ecstatic to present them here.

Contest winner Michelle Duckworth is an artist from Memphis. She has a blog where she posts her work. Next week I'll be featuring more of Michelle's work, so check back for that. [11/12/09 update: Michelle now has an etsy shop.]

Second place goes to Moscow-based artist Denis Kostromitin.

That was a hard enough choice to make, so all of the other contributors will have to be content with a tie for third place. Thank you all for blowing my mind!

April 2011: I'm presenting some of these bookplates as if they were commissioned by giants because I'm still under the spell of the 900 px wide format of my redesigned site.

Denis Kostromitin

Denis stunned me with his entry and his description of it:

"The orchid garden/sea of orchids is a symbolic representation of the subconscious (which, I believe, was the original idea behind the magazine’s title?), the giant mummified pike fish (its shriveled but still gleaming eye is on the bottom left) is Leviathan, the dreaded hunter of all things rational, the breaker of limits, the guardian of insanity and imagination, yet—a mere throne for Eternity. Having defeated the Beast with the icy scythe of Time, she enjoys her never-ending pastime in the only company she can afford—timeless books. The books give birth to Leviathans thus closing the circle."

Ellis Nadler

Marcus Parcus. Marcus writes: "In the spirit of the season (and my own monkey obsessions), my entry takes its inspiration from the Dracula Simia orchid."

@ndy paciorek

Daniel Bell


Penny Davenport(missing an Ex Libris, but still!...)

Syl Encieux

Joel M. Smith


Emanuel Schongut
[see this recent post of 60s book covers by Schongut]

Inés Estrada

Rhonda Davies

Eric Syre

Zoë Sadokierski

Eric Battaglia
Old Scratch store

Ian O'Phelan

Jeff Bartell

Joanna Rosso

Doris Downes

Amy McCrory

Kristine Glerup

Jonathan Balliett

Stephen Boman

Derek Collie

Kath H.

Neil Ornstein

Seb Fowler

Dmitry Samarov

Mo Ali

Cherie Bender

A handful of people submitted more than one entry. I decided to include some of these as well:

Penny Davenport

Penny Davenport

Penny Davenport

Rhonda Davies

Rhonda Davies

Rhonda Davies

Doris Downes

@ndy paciorek

@ndy paciorek

See all posts from this series.