Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

04 JANUARY, 2012

The World Is Round: A Tiny 1938 Children’s Book by Gertrude Stein

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“A rose is a rose is a rose.”

It’s no secret I have an obsession with little- known children’s books by famous authors of literature for grown-ups. Among them is The World Is Round by writer, poet and art collector Gertrude Stein, one of the most beloved — and quoted — luminaries of the early 20th century. Its story is an unlikely but wonderful one: In 1938, author Margaret Wise Brown of the freshly founded Young Scott Books became obsessed with convincing leading adult authors to try their hands at a children’s book. She sent letters to Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Gertrude Stein. Hemingway and Steinbeck expressed no interest, but Stein surprised Brown by saying she already had a near-complete children’s manuscript titled The World Is Round, and would be happy to have Young Scott bring it to life. Which they did, though not without drama.

Stein demanded that the pages be pink, the ink blue, and the artwork by illustrator Francis Rose. Young Scott were able to meet the first two demands despite the technical difficulties, but they didn’t want Rose to illustrate the book and asked Stein to instead choose from several Young Scott illustrators. Reluctantly, she settle don Clement Hurd, whose first illustrated book had appeared just that year. The book was at last published, featuring a mix of unpunctuated prose and poetry, with a single illustration for each chapter.

Though Hurd’s original illustrations remain most familiar, Oxford-based Barefoot Books published one last edition of the book in 1993, illustrated by artist Roberta Arenson. It’s a tiny gem of a book, small enough to fit in a pocket, with beautifully minimalist blue-and-white pictogram illustrations reminiscent of Indian Mandana tribal art.

Though out-of-print and fairly hard to find in bookstores, you might be able to grab a copy with some patient sifting through Amazon.

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02 JANUARY, 2012

Advice to Sink in Slowly: Designers Share Wisdom with First-Year Students in Poster Series

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Unpacking the secrets of happiness and creativity one poster at a time.

What better way to kick off the new year than with words of wisdom from those who have threaded before us? That’s precisely the premise of advice to sink in slowly, a wonderful project enlisting design graduates in passing on advice and inspiration to first-year students through an ongoing series of posters — part Live Now, part Everything Is Going To Be OK, part Wisdom, part something completely refreshing, based on the idea that we all have subjective wisdom we wish we’d known earlier, but often don’t get a chance to pass it on to those who can benefit from it in a way that makes them pay heed.

Advice is subjective. But, by passing on advice in a creative way, it is possible to create something that lasts, that people will want to live with and which can let the advice sink in slowly and help out later on.”

'to create ideas is a gift, but to choose wisely is a skill' by Ryan Morgan

'Do what you love' by Andy J. Miller

'Take Time' by Temujin Doran

'Use your library…you'll miss it when you leave' by Rebecca Cobb

'Finish what you start* *it may seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.' by Irina Troitskaya

'Ignore both of them' by Eleni Kalorkoti

'Go and look outside' by Robert Evans

'You have to leave your room to get there' by Ben Javens

'if in doubt, make tea' by Owen Davey

'trust your gut instincts' by Carys Williams

'Don't be afraid, everything will be alright' by Ben Javens

'collaborate' by Simon Vince

'Believe in the marks that you will make' by Stephie Ginger

'how to make friends in your first term' by Temujin Doran

'eat breakfast' by Always With Honor

'Be free!' by Anna-Kaisa

'don't keep your worries to yourself' Rebecca Cobb

'Find some place to stop & be quiet' by Lizzy Stewart

'everything is possible' by Lee Basford

Free posters are available to first-year students across the U.K. upon request. Four of the posters are available for purchase in a fundraising effort, with 100% of the proceeds feeding back to support this wonderful project — so go ahead and grab one, then let its wisdom sink in slowly.

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30 DECEMBER, 2011

PBS Off Book: The Magic of Book Art and Papercraft in 5 Minutes

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The architecture of whimsy, or what the progression of time has to do with embracing the possible.

After their fantastic micro-documentaries on typography and generative art, the fine folks at PBS Off Book turn their lens to book art and papercraft — something I’m quite fond of myself. The film features artists Carole Kunstadt, Matthew Reinhart (of Star Wars: A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy fame), and Andrea Dezso (whose forthcoming Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses is looking wicked delicious.)

Books in general are really good at showing time and progression, a ton of books are very good at showing something happening right here, right now. They are depicting these worlds that are almost like a dream, and everything seems very real and very possible… I like to create scenes that want to be explained, because I think about them almost as these springboards for the imagination — you long to go there, you long to be there.” ~ Andrea Dezso

For more book art and papercraft magic, see Spike Jonze’s terrific recent stop-motion love story for book lovers, David Carter’s whimsical pop-up books, the beautiful trailer for Going West, and Gestalten’s excellent fond of Papercraft 2 compendium.

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