New Album!

Hey yall-

I have been in Denver since coming down from a stint of service in the north last winter. When I was leaving there I was telling people I was going to Denver to record an album and get my pursuits totally in check. Strange how things happen when I address the situations life puts in front of me.

Then somehow I did it.

So I recorded an album that I am calling ‘Acrylic Clouds‘. It is an album of memories, which I sometimes think of as paintings. I am not so sure about you, but my memories are very likely not the FACT, but they are beautiful and serve a purpose as far as showing at least a gestalt of actual events.  These songs are a collection of my remembrance of events and thoughts.  Download it! It is free if you want it to be. Pay as you wish. Tell your friends.

Anywhay, coming into another winter. I am feeling healthy as I finish recovering from some tooth trauma and get back to the climbing and running. Training for that zombie apocalypse. Training so I can have fun until then.

I have rented a studio space out of the Boxcar Gallery on Santa Fe in Denver, and spend many hours tinkering and booking. I am itchy, and want to show my work. I want to share, and I am not sure if that happens this winter, or if it happens in the spring. It’s always spring right?

There will be merch up on the bandcamp soon. Vinyl and books and tshirts and posters. Soon as I can afford to print ’em!

I am finding life interesting and rewarding. I am all in.

Love you.


Old updates

February 2017.

Welcome to my site. I am a creative exploring around in life. I bind books by hand in an old way, and cover them in reclaimed materials. I also make art, and currently am working with ink a lot.
This site is some form of portfolio, and I update it (fairly) often.

Check the blog section for more up to date updates.

Hope your days are long as we come out of this winter in the North!

January. 2016.

If you haven’t been to my site before, welcome. I post a letter here every now and again as an update. More specific updates are on my blog!

I run a small business called Vagabound Craft. I make books from scratch the way they used to in the (wayback) olden days. Hand torn pages sewn onto cords, hand stitched head bands. I cover in reclaimed materials.

I also can’t seem to stop searching for more outlets of my creativity. (As if I would wanna!)

A new year, and everything is becoming refreshed. I am back in Philadelphia and following new paths to and fro in this life. I have some things in the works for the coming months and the next few years. I am slowing my travel down quite a bit, as I have been feeling a need to be more grounded.

I am finding new incredible ways to love this life, and all it’s little pieces. Especially those I think I “don’t like”.

I hope this year finds you right where you NEED to be, and that you are able to morph that into right where you WANT to be. That is my resolution.

Big Love from the city of brotherly love!




September 2015.

Last letter written was May. So many things happen so quickly on the road.

My birthday just passed. Many great birthday wishes, thank you for those. I find myself in a sort of odd limbo.

I leave Philadelphia tomorrow night, to Denver. I leave Denver the next day for Moab. I leave a few days later back to Northern California. This is where the plans get more gooopey. Baja, Mex. followed by a shot all the way north to Alaska? Boulder? Denver? Southern Cali? India? So many places to think of, to dream toward.

So here be the intention as of now: I keep working, remembering as much where I am as where I like to see me going. I REALLY wanted to get back on the road In the early part of this year. It worked, it is working.

Sure hope to keep seeing all the smiling folks I run into….sure helps me from getting too lonely feeley.

Love you.


May 28, 2015.

Hello there. Thank you for coming through this site, however you have gotten yourself here, you can spend as much time as you want.

I left Philadelphia on a spring road trip to sell books at a couple festivals here in California. I have read Kerouac plenty to know that the road trip tells you when it ends, never the other way around. I have lived through this time and again, getting caught out here in the floaty travel space…and yet thought I would just turn around at this ocean and head east again. Anywho, I am staying in California for a few months maybe.

This floaty space is my favorite. It exists totally concurrent and parallel to the “normal” world. When I get myself really loose inside of my moorings, opportunities are available, and I am free to follow them. This is why I do what I do and live how I live. I have a distaste for patterns of excuses when I am still.

Things like “I worked all day, no time for guitar”.

So I am free from any self expectation right now, living to work and working to live. Travel and movement are an incredible pair of muses. And love. I think it may be best to fall in love daily, even if with yourself. Fall in love deeply and fully, but do nothing to hold it. Let it flow, there is no end to the volume of available happiness.

Anywho, from the top of a nice little hill outside Yosemite.

Love you.

March 18, 2015.
Hello, and welcome to my site!
I am a bookbinder, artist, and musician with a feeling of restless wandering in my bones.

I am leaving tomorrow for a spring road trip all over the USA. Check out my books here. The links along the menu up top will show you around as well.

I am driving with friends of mine, John and Jess. They are music loving brits with a lust for the west coast. They are working on a project to find some sort of pulse of the American landscape through music and sites. Follow them here.

I will pick my brother up in LA, fresh off a long stint in Thailand. We will be making the trip back to Pennsylvania together for the solstice (well, a wedding on the solstice).

This trip has been planned and worked toward for many months, and the mid point are two festivals in California. I am setting out with the intention to find my “why” again. I am making a very sincere go at trying to have my own business that gives reason for travel. The travel will inform my business.

I will be playing as much as I can on this trip, in every way. If you want us to stop on through your town, you can email me at and we will see what feels good.

So with hours until I am supposed to be leaving…I must pack the van.

Love and safe travels to you and me both!


January, 2015

Dear visitor of my growing site-

Thank you for somehow landing here, I feel there is no room for chance. You might just be reading this for some reason of importance to the larger spinnings of the world. I started about a year ago.

Anywho, my name is Joe Kirby, this site is trying desperately to keep up with my workings. Currently, I am working on things and often forget that I need to share them with the world. If one is creative for the sake of creativity, that’s great….but why keep it to one’s self?

So this is my attempt to share. One attempt. I am seeing it as a multi front maneuver in order to bolster my confidence, to ascribe some sort of meaning to the things that drive me as a person and an artist.

Coming soon (always): More paintings, more pen and ink, more journals, more music, more ideas.

So check back if’n you want to. You are always welcome.

It is with wonder and amazement and some fear that I meet the sunrise each morning, that I leave off with each night. The world is a really malleable construct…let’s bend it around our passions.



December, 2014

This about sums it up for me.

May these pages hold with humility the greatest triumphs, with grace the darkest moments. May this book accept willingly all of the twists and turns of life. May these pages, bound into one book, represent the tenacity of will of the bearer, a willingness to confront and explore the deepest thoughts and the lightest of humor. This journal is a place for honesty.

Love yas.

November, 2014

October 2014

These letters are an gestalt style update. For more often, off the hip updates, go here.

I don’t know how clear the point of this is. It strikes me as a little bit ego-maniacal to build a public place all about one’s self.  Ignoring that, countering with a for business purpose only kind of phrase. The little shoulder angel and devil argue on and on.

I ought to explain that this site is kind of a portfolio so I can remember what I have done. It is a referral of sorts. A (loosely) curated section of my life and personality and work ethic and abilities in a nod toward transparency.  For years I worked on all of this stuff, but I have not been working with any mind to posterity. Now I am, just a little.

I like the idea of a portfolio. This is one that I am molding and shaping as I go. It changes little for weeks on end, then there is a flurry of activity. Natural rhythms, I suppose.  It is a bit unorthodox on execution, bare with me.

Writing. If anyone is interested in proofing a story in about a month, I will trade you books or art..just to read it and be merciless.


Kirbinatron 5

August, 2014

So I am in Philadelphia.

I find myself at home-base, sifting through my own few, and my father’s many belongings. All of this seems foreign to me now, though so familiar. Receipts from seven years past trigger memories of days spent wishing they would end quickly. I realize the line between natural and unnatural has blurred. As I look back into history, searching for respite from the guilt (I now redefine) for altering the universe in so grandiose a fashion. Flight. No, impossible.

I am as senselessly afraid as the rest of you. I find it difficult to take the licks life throws. I am sensitive to feedback, and somehow more sensitive to the negative than the positive. Well, I look to change that now.

I have some great momentum built up. I learned so much this summer from the renovation of a farmhouse, and the interaction with many, many animals. With horses, it seems, you can try to “break” them or you can learn from them, communicate with them. The sensitive nature of these gigantic beasts is shattering to the idea of separate ego. So, lesson learned. I am nothing without everything else.

I am outfitting the new workshop that will serve as home for a few months, have cancelled a trip to California. Build. I have a fantastic group of folks that are helping me out with marketing, and will have my craft in a few stores next month? In communication with stores in PA and Tucson. I am reworking my pricing, and rehashing strategy. Calligraphy is getting better. Voice is getting stronger. Hands and wrists are feeling wonderful.

More importantly: I am working. I am discovering my creativity. Have been lopsided in the left brain, and will lean right until balanced. Got some HUGE canvases. Have a beautiful guitar to write new music, and rework old.

I am smiling. At you. I am remembering that holding anything for too long or too tightly makes for interesting wake up calls.

We are going to be fine, as long as we keep ourselves intact. Your art, your passion, your dreams are real. So are mine. Let’s get busy in the face of ourselves.

Thank you to each and everything that has brought me to this point. We are going to be better than ok. We are already perfectly flawed.
Keep your eyes out for some new stuff.

Bursting with Love,


April, 2014

After a trip that took me many thousands of miles, I feel a little bit different than I did four months ago. I saw many places I have been to previous, and many more that I had not seen. I feel rooted in myself, but also aware of how little my one little self is in this large smorgasbord of souls. If there are souls….I feel them.
I am still a bookbinder and artist, a musician and traveler. I still have yet to find boundary. I walk gingerly, with a fire that sometimes comes on too hot. I will become best friends with a stranger in moments, and walk away from a shriveled friendship just as quickly.
I have less attachment than previous, and am also more drawn toward people than before. I have little notion of what I am trying to say or accomplish with this life, with this project.
I have learned the easy way that binding books on the road is tough business that requires more focus than I tend to show on the road.
I have learned once more to live in the moment I am experiencing. I will continue to write about what this means. Bear with me while I bear with myself.
Finding something you cannot be away from is a continual practice.
Love you, even if perhaps we have not met.

January 7, 2014

I am launching a project called Vagabound Bindery. I am a traveler, yet this journey is new to me. I am beginning a world trip that has no destination or boundaries. I create while traveling in order to make enough money to get to the next material I will work in. I have a plan of action, and you can watch it all unfold here, on my site.

I am a bookbinder, artist, writer, and musician. I bind books by hand in a mixture of styles from old tradition, as well as my own tweaks and design. I enjoy all creative pursuits. I believe that though I was born in the United States, I am a citizen of the world, and want to see my home. What would you do to wake up each morning wherever you wanted, and got to do anything you chose?

Our lives are short, the world large, and the possibilities endless. Freedom is scary. I am always practicing to not let this fear in, and to move forward with a smile.

Please feel free to contact me for a chat. Maybe you have a jacket you have retired that would make a great something else? Let me know, maybe I will come bind with you in your jungle hut or your penthouse in the UAE. Either way, I would love to meet you. We are already friends, and our time is now.

See you in the world.


In the heat of summer

Denver, Colorado

Everything is moving forward. I am learning about the usefulness of staying put and directing long steady energy toward goals. Theres a time for running and a time for sitting it seems.

I have been making a lot of new books, and they are selling at a couple galleries in the front range. I am working on getting more than enough made up to have an etsy stock, but currently have not had time.

Because I recorded an album. And have a full time job. And spend as much time as I can in the woods, but one must seize ol summertime by the horns I say.

I have set up a gofundme as a way to offset a bit of the cost of producing an album independently. I will soonly post the download code, where one will be able to download the album free with the option of a sliding scale sort of contribution. I will also be pressing in the vinyl form and sending them around for whomever wants one!

This is going to be a fun ride.

Got the computer fixed, so will be up-keeping and developing this into a main outlet for my works…buildbuildbuild.


Happy (almost) spring!The past six months have been very full of new and beautiful experiences, as well as heartaches and some very cold living!

As the season is warming up, my spirits are beginning to lift! I think all the work on keeping it together over the winter kind of worked!

I am in Denver.

I am working on a series in ink on paper, and have been making some very beautiful books. Some custom commissions have been very fun!

My etsy site is up to date, save some miniatures I have been working on and my art, which I will get onto the site as soon as they are not hanging somewhere. Early March.
I have gently landed here in Denver, and think I will be sticking around for a bit, so its likely this site may keep up to date!

The onset of autumn

Been a while since I posted. I am in Washington on the east side of the mountains. Living on a nice little sparse property up theighway from town. I ride a bicycle everywhere and that has kept me strong and out of trouble….hard to ride the bike uphill next to the highway after a night of drinking ( I assume this, never even tried it).

I’ve been working a lot, and playing music and making art, selling books. I like it here, people are real and everyone wears their passion in their body shape: the climbers got big backs, skiers have big asses and thighs. There is passion dripping in every conversation. 

My brother is meeting me here and we will move down the coast following fall geese and harvest. I am in a flow following wherever comes next. 

If you haven’t caught the drift, I didn’t attend the school program I was slated to join… It didn’t feel right. I got other things I’m planning, things I feel will be a better fit. As of now, I don’t got much more to say. 

Love yas dearly.



So It is springtime again, warmer and more wet than the winter I can remember having just passed through. I have noticed myself to be very active when it is sunny and much less so under grey sky. Not trying to fight this, but I have a suspicion that internetty things are good to do on the rainy day. So here we are!

I have been making many books and some commission work, as well as writing a lot and painting almost daily. It feels really nice. I am breaking out (or into) my creative self and there is much introspection that I think would be far too repetitive and boring for anyone to read, but it is happening.

I went to Phoenixville and sold my wares to the folks there. It was a really nice handcraft and antique fair with many beautiful dogs and their owners walking around. Made for great people watching. I got to talk to other bibliophiles, and met a very kind soul in a baker at the next booth over. We watched the quietest toddler meltdown ever. She just lazily laid herself upon the street and slowly pumped her legs and arms about halfheartedly resting her face right on the street. Parents just stood talking, allowing this to fizzle it’s self out. That was until the kid jumped to her feet and sprinted fast down the road. I still don’t know if the limp freak-out was just a distraction for the actual escape.

I am working on some new things, and maybe putting together a bit of travelling around, but who knows?

I suppose what I am really going through is that it is all working so well. So well, in fact, that I don’t yet know how to deal with it! I have (I suspect it’s fairly usual) been in my way for a long time, but no longer. I am slated to go to school in August. Between now and then, I have a whole mess of things I want to work on.

I suppose what I am trying to write about is this: there is a limit to how unproductive one can be, it is a sort of doing nothing, passing time. I am not sure that there is a cap on how productive one can be, as I am ramping up all the time and am nowhere near too busy yet.

I hope to be more on top of this blog and site, and will be posting more books, music and art today.

Love to you and yours.

Sailing the oceans of dream.


So I was passengering in a jeep. The dawn was coming, and I was late. Not really late, but enough to feel rushed and a tad upset by just about everything. Then the driver took a wrong turn.

The driver stayed his own chosen course and only smiled at my protesting. I think maybe I worked for him, and he didn’t care about our tardiness. One cannot be late for themselves.

So we got to the beach. Daylight creeping up behind us overland. The night receded away over the sea. West. Why is it always west?

My driver gave me my pack and we walked over the dunes, around the bend. Salt air breeze cooled my nostrils. There is a taste to sea air at dawn that is all it’s own.  A small catamaran sat bobbing half on the sand. Onto it I was pushed, and off to water I went. I yelled about this or that, and realized that with this boat, and being pushed off….whatever else I was about to do that day seemed really…unnecessary. I let go, or was blown about until I took hold of the sail. It caught wind. I was sailing, and the land faded. I moved about the small boat and watched the land fall away behind me.

I got scared. Real scared. Then I realized that there was nothing near to hurt me. No reason for fear. I sailed on, and fell asleep under a sky that was bright with moon.

I awoke wet, laughing because my feet had swung over the side and drug through the water for at least a little bit of time. I checked my laptop for directions (maybe that was sign one of a dream? but I felt fine about it, as it was wrapped in a towel!)

I was on course to some islands. It was warm, and another boat came by. A small man in a large canoe. He was headed the other way, back toward land. He said there was too much traffic ahead to make it.

He was not lying. I dodged many ships and freighters and sailboats and some folks swimming that wanted onto my craft. I dodged and bumped for hours, trying to move this way and that while keeping air in sail, my boat out from under another boat. There were whales. The sea got big. I bled from tired hands and my back felt near bursting.

Some time passed. Days? I was pulling my little boat onto the white sand of somewhere in-between land. It was dark, the stars bright. Torches led me to a set of houses connected by boardwalks. There was music and warmth and an auction or perhaps an art opening. People wore fancy clothes, and mine were covered in wet salt, my entire self unkempt. I bid on a basket of chocolate, dropping my name into a jar.

A man offered me a smoke, which I denied because I had to sail on, and cravings on a boat are the worst (apparently).

We walked together. He told me he admired what I was doing. That if I made it this far, maybe I could make it the rest of the way. He asked what I used to do. I didn’t answer, I didn’t know the answer. Then with a smile, he said “You may die out there, alone”

And I woke up, not unhappy about that.


Finally! Some great sleep!

The holidays are a flurry of activity and emotion. Especially when I go home. I got to Philadelphia a week ago, give or take. It feels like a year and just a day at the same time. Setting up my studio, reworking my sanctuary…getting my supplies laid in (new inks and paints, as there were HUGE sales for the collectively decided birthday of a long time savior). Sleep. Lots and lots of sleep. The strange thing about this kind of tired that I had been storing inside…the kind not solved by naps…it makes me too tired to sleep well. Its fits and starts and tossing and asleep at 3pm and awake at 2am. It’s being hungry and not wanting to eat. Follow the strange needs of the body. Listen. After a week of this…and some family time yesterday when I wanted to be sleeping instead, I slept like a baby last night.

I blame the full moon. Thanks, moon.

I had vivid, calm, and pleasant dreams all night and woke feeling incredibly myself again! Last night’s dreams found me flying a double prop whirly-bird, serving tables on a train, interacting with just about everyone I have ever met. I filmed a new web-episode of a popular television show, and came up with a very funny skit. (In waking life, I am not a camera guy….and don’t know television people) I made lists of trees on a drawing I’ve been working on, while my girlfriend (who doesn’t exist, and was not shown in the dream) made dinner. I spent a long time on her childhood bed while her father explained a new game he loved. It was a mix between Boggle and basketball. I am not interested in either of these things. At all….but tell that to my imaginary dream father in dating? Never. Be kind. HAH!

I loved each moment of this. Sleeping was fun last night, and I am fresh and excited again this morning. When I get tired and discombobulated, it feels like I will be that way forever. That’s the rub.

I am subscribing nowadays to a knowledge that my “mood” is my choice and my feelings, while illuminating, are that…things I feel. They are NOT what I am.

So I am challenged constantly to let these things envelop me. I am challenged to realize “I” am not down or depressed, I am just feeling that way. It passes, long as I can be a watcher of them, not an owner or creator of them. This goes for happy and excited too…which is harder, as we all want to be these all the time.

Maybe I am never happy or sad. Maybe I am just me, and these ebbing feelings flow about in cycles.

I think that is the truth of it, and I am here to experience as much as to interact.

Here for the show…and there are no intermissions.

Love you. Onto another marked year. I did so enjoy this one so far…I’m going to try to experience with joy this last week too. I hope the same for you.

The last 3000 miles

Writing letters, finishing drawings, singing. Packing. Letting stress hang out. Don’t fight it, it’ll get stronger.

Onto a train Monday. I always feel a bit stressed when I pull all my worldly possessions together, pare them down and still feel the drawn and quartered feeling of having too much stuff and needing to keep some.

It is not an option to leave my books behind, so many thoughtful hours into the making…. But wait, the goal of finishing them is finished… So I want to keep them because they are worth money to someone… Someone else will want to write in them…

These arguments go round and round. I need this, I never needed it. The computer? Makes it more “convenient” to do things, I record music and edit video. I can do this on my phone now, but carpal tunnel is real! So I keep it.

The paper, the drawings… Cheaper to buy new than ship..but that’s wasteful. Same with the leather which along with most clothes, will go to a thrift shop.

And now I am sitting with not much stuff, and trying so hard to stick with my decisions. Don’t pull that out of the donate to trade it with a keeper. Leave it.