Los Angeles, California: Trash and art are intertwining more than ever before and Budget Dumpster has showcased artists from around the world turning garbage into art collections. However one artist is re-purposing a once beloved item, that is rapidly becoming obsolete. Artist Mike Stilkey has been filling his art galleries with discarded library books transformed into treasures.


Thousands of libraries are throwing out thousands of books on a daily basis, Stilkey has had plenty of opportunity and materials to accomplish his projects. Unfortunately, books do not have many other options other than becoming priceless works of art. Due to an old-school practice of using a high amounts glue, books are usually unable to be recycled.

A majority of the books used for his pieces are taken directly from the library dumpsters throughout the Los Angeles area. With the growing popularity of the “Book Sculptures” collection, Stilkey has been getting books sent to him directly. However finding the unwanted books is only a small part in the the process of recycling.

Mike Stilkey Paintings on discarded books

Some of these Book Sculptures can contain over 3,000 library books and stand over 24 feet tall, but the collection has a wide range of pieces. The books serve primarily as the canvas and Stilkey displays his skills by painting directly on each individual book.

“I’m putting my story on someone else’s story, and the book itself has a story – where it’s been, who’s read it. It’s basically narrative on narrative” states Stilkey.

Without the efforts of this artists, these books would have eventually ended up in the landfill. When trash is transformed into art, it gives its audience a visual example of how much we truly waste. It is essential to find a way to better recycle library books, because we can only have so many book art galleries.

Mike Stilkey Paintings on discarded books