Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘illustration’

11 AUGUST, 2011

Tom Gauld’s Both: If Edward Gorey Did Contemporary Quirk-Comics

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What a morally outraged sweetcorn kernel has to do with some not-so-bright astronauts and Mexican wrestlers.

London-based cartoonist and artist Tom Gauld might just be the Edward Gorey of our time, channeling his wry humor and macabre aesthetic through exquisite black-and-white illustrations. In 2002, he collaborated with fellow RCA alum Simone Lia on Both — a lovely little book blending two previous volumes, unequivocally titled First and Second. It’s a quirky story about, well, a morally outraged sweetcorn kernel, some Mexican wrestlers, some astronauts, a rabbit, bread and bhagis, among other oddballs, who explore the bittersweetness of the world through offbeat vignettes and minimalist narratives full of sometimes subtle, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny humor.

Though the book is currently out of print, you can snag a used copy on Amazon for as little as $8 or try hunting it down at your favorite local offbeat bookstore.

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05 AUGUST, 2011

New McSweeney’s Children’s Book Uses Thermal Ink for Secret Images

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Old-school storytelling gets new-school tools, or how heat-sensitive ink is giving the iPad a run for its money.

UPDATE 01/13/12: The book is now out and available to order.

It’s no secret I have a soft spot for children’s books, especially the timeless classics. But I’m also keenly fascinated by the evolution of publishing and innovation in books. (A timely topic given this week’s acquisition of PushPopPress by Facebook.) So I’m thrilled about a new release from McSweeney’s brand new children’s imprint: Keep Our Secrets by Jordan Crane isn’t merely a charmingly illustrated treat, it’s also an admirable piece of publishing innovation — the book is printed with thermally-activated color-changing ink that lets you discover a wealth of delightful surprises and hidden illustrations as you rub the pages and the heat from your fingers causes some ink layers to become transparent.

This kind of playful, tactile interactivity in what’s still a printed, physical book is challenges our assumptions about what it means to build truly “interactive” reading experiences, showing it doesn’t necessarily have to mean device-centricity.

Keep Our Secrets comes out in December and is now out for pre-order.

via Etre / Reaction

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03 AUGUST, 2011

Life of Pi: Croatian Illustrator Takes on a Modern Classic

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What perseverance in the face of rejection has to do with tigers and the quest for belonging.

It’s a familiar story — author faces series of rejection letters but perseveres to eventually reach wide critical acclaim. That’s exactly what happened to Yann Martel, whose fantasy adventure novel Life of Pi was rejected by at least five UK publishers before being published by a Canadian one in 2001 and awarded the Man Booker Prize for Fiction the following year for its UK edition. It tells the story of an Indian boy, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, stranded for 227 days after a shipwreck on a boat he shares with a Bengali tiger named Pi. It’s a story of faith, adventure, survival and belonging.

But what makes the book most noteworthy is that, in 2005, a worldwide competition set out to find an artist to illustrate a new, special edition of the book, settling on the wonderful Croatian illustrator and painter Tomislav Torjanac. Torjanac used his distinctive blend of oil paints and digital illustration to produce 40 stunning illustrations with a conceptual twist — the scenes he portrayed were viewed from Pi’s subjective perspective.

My vision of the illustrated edition of Life of Pi is based on paintings from a first person’s perspective — Pi’s perspective. The interpretation of what Pi sees is intermeshed with what he feels and it is shown through the use of colours, perspective, symbols, hand gestures, etc… Hence some of the scenes may look realistic and may correspond to ‘reality,’ while others may contain elements of sylization or even abstract elements (for example: the scene of blindness out of the sea).” ~ Tomislav Torjanac

Here is a fascinating glimpse of Torjanac’s creative process:

Island Study

Lifeboat Study

'I quite deliberately dressed wild animals in tame costumes of my imagination.'

'Only when they threw me overboard did I begin to have doubts...'

'And what a thump it was.'

'I threw the mako towards the stern.'

Breathtakingly beautiful, exhilarating and poetic, the artwork in Life of Pi is an absolute feast for the eyes and heart.

Some images via The Guardian

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