Brain Pickings

Do! A Minimalist Handmade Pictogram Book in the Style of Indian Tribal Art

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Beautiful visual storytelling from the Warli tradition, hand-crafted by local artisans.

From Indian author Gita Wolf and the fine folks at Tara Books, makers of beautiful handcrafted books, comes Do! — a lovely set of action pictures rendered in the elegant minimalism of Warli tribal art. Each page depicts a basic verb (“work,” “play,” “fight”), illustrated in a style that blends the white-paint-on-brown-paper technique we’ve seen in Nurturing Walls, a pictogram-driven visual language reminiscent of the ISOTYPE of the 1930s, and a word-image minimalism akin to Blexbolex’s.

Like all Tara books, his gem is silk-screened by hand in Tara Books’ fair-trade workshop in Chennai. The pages themselves emit the rich earthy smell of artisanal craft, printed on rough recycled craft paper the color of paper bags and painted in a style that mimics the lime and chalk artwork traditionally created by the women of the Maharashtra region on walls washed with cow dung, mud, and paint.

Each image in every copy of Do!, more than an educational introduction to English verbs for young readers, is thus an original print to delight the creatively voracious of all ages.

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