Archive for August, 2017

Women Who Kill – book review

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Written by Anna Davies Illustrated by Sarah Tanat-Jones

Published by Cicada Books ISBN: 978-1-908714-41-1

Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster

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Occidendum ex hominibus is an international past time that dates back centuries.

The title of this book is still shocking even by today’s standards. We are still convinced that killing is something women shouldn’t do if they wish to remain feminine. However, as this book shows, in 54AD it was all the rage for Roman nobility, and it’s a reminder that serial killers come in all shapes and sizes.

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It’s a hardback book with a cover that nods at the direct graphic approach used by the great Sue Coe. The end papers are unusual as they cover three pages instead of two, each depicting the tools of killing against a red background – there will be blood! The format is also reminiscent of chapbooks.

The structure is simple, opposite the portrait of the murderess is a short explanation of the crime and in some cases the reason for it. I do like the inclusion of the penalty as a warning to all transgressors; unless you are the Roman Aristocrat Agrippina whose political connections saved her from punishment.

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The illustrations are seductive and the women featured seem elevated by virtue of their destructive force. Tanat-Jones is working with a limited palette of blue, dark blue, black and red. She cleverly uses the white of the paper as a fifth colour. There is good variety in the portraits, each one depicting the location, weapon or poison of choice. Notable images for me are those of Ma Barker, Countess Elizabeth Bathory, Phoolan Devi, Julia Fazekas and Pauline Parker and her friend Juliet Hulme.

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The psychopathic killers disturb me, but those seeking revenge are more sympathetic. I think the pursuit of power is at the heart of most of the crimes, the power over life and death. The killings are treated in a matter of fact way without much bluster or sensationalism.

Now remember murder is very rare – don’t have nightmares…

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Death of the Artist

The Animals Vegan Manifesto

Arrest All Mimics interviews Creative Review

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

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Creative Review has been a mainstay of the creative industry for a long time. Undeniably a beautiful magazine with great journalism, where do we find them in 2017?

Ben Tallon meets with editor Patrick Burgoyne to talk about their transition into a bi-monthly print publication, why that decision was made and how digital plays an important role in them staying on top of the abundance of great work in all disciplines.

They also talk about their first ever course, ‘Mastering Creativity’ and everything you can expect from it.

Patrick provides many valuable insights and ideas, so hit Ben up over with your thoughts on @arrestallmimics now!

Listen now

Champagne and Wax Crayons – book review

Friday, August 11th, 2017

Riding the Madness of the Creative Industries

By Ben Tallon

Published by LID Publishing Ltd ISBN: 978-1-907794-93-3

Review by Andy Robert Davies

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This is a memoir, a brutally honest account of the struggle of a creative individual, with whom Illustration students and recent graduates will be able to identify. Tallon has an energetic writing style that reflects his signature loose drawings and inky compositions, which have been used by a host of high profile clients.

This book follows the usual format of an autobiography, giving an overview of the foundations of creativity during childhood, moving on to the challenge of flying the nest, entering university and then the struggle of cultivating a creative career. Tallon is a raconteur and is not afraid to poke fun at himself, but there is an underlining knowledge and desire to learn his craft.

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The text is punctuated by commentary from a range of design and music professionals, most notably, Ken Garland, that help to give Tallon’s experience a wider context. The main attribute of this book to which readers will respond, is its honesty. When we look at the artwork of an artist we admire we usually only see the end product, maybe sometimes we will have the pleasure of observing a sketchbook or rough drawing, what we don’t usually hear or discuss is the day-to-day toil of an artist. Tallon discusses how to survive both practically and mentally through periods without any paid work and most importantly how to keep focused on self-initiated projects when times are tough.

This book does not just show the reader how to create a successful freelance business, it is a manual for how to live and survive as a freelancer. Living on reduced items from the supermarket, part-time job purgatory, finding free Wi-Fi and hot-desking in coffee shops are all discussed in humorous detail. There is a bag of tricks here that may help young Illustrators and Designers survive the hustle of the creative industries.

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The term ‘Entrepreneur’ or indeed ‘the Entrepreneurial Illustrator’ has been discussed in great detail in recent years. Tallon is a good case study for this topic and this book should be seen as a practical guide of how to initiate the business from which to generate income. This will be most helpful to students and graduates as it is a map towards the goal of a creative career.

Tallon has many job titles including Illustrator, Art Director, and Writer. The latter is a role not always considered by those who have studied image making, but Tallon shows that by the very production of this book, he is an ever-evolving creative, with an eye for marketing and a new business opportunity – which are essentials skills for anyone who desires a career of this nature.

For any newly graduated Illustrators out there, chapters 4. Welcome to Freelancing and 5. Self-Unemployment, are a must read! The experiences the author discusses here have been shared by many before and will be endured by countless more in the future. But readers will take heart that in the end, the writer overcame his struggles to work for his dream client and hopefully this book will help the newly graduated do the same.

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Becoming a Successful Illustrator

Illustration: Meeting the Brief

Jon Burgerman’s Daily Doodle – book review

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

By Jon Burgerman

Published by Laurence King ISBN 1786270404

Reviewed by Simon Whittaker

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AOI member Jon Burgerman’s Daily Doodle is 118 pages of tips, ideas and inspiration for the reader to use as a springboard for their own doodling, to help them have fun and not worry about making mistakes or creating “perfect” drawings. It also acts as a sketchbook, with plenty of whitespace and Jon’s scribbbles encouraging you to fill in any space left blank on the page, before moving on to extra sheets and scrap-paper.

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The ideas themselves start off simply with a mix of food-stuffs and animals – bananas and hot dogs, cats and dogs – through aeroplanes, monster trucks, houses to ghosts and goblins, and Christmas stuff, all accompanied by humourous descriptions and construction notes. As an added extra the book comes with over 40 stickers, around half of which are full-colour versions of Jon’s doodles from the book, the rest are just outlines waiting for the reader to fill in the details before sticking.

Reviewer SImon's try out doodles

Reviewer Simon's try out doodles

I’d imagine any fan of Jon’s work would enjoy flicking through this book – I am and I did – and it would be a great book for giving children ideas and confidence in the early stages of their drawing play/exploration, or for an adult who’s maybe been through some of the adult coloring books of recent years but who lacks the confidence to draw themselves.

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More of Simon's doodles

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

The Inspirational Moustache

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Daily Funnies – exhibition

Monday, August 7th, 2017

An Exhibition of Strip Cartoons

26th July – 5th November, 2017

Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2H

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The exhibition features examples of many well-known cartoon strips from newspapers and magazines from the past 100 years. The exhibition will show examples including Alex, Andy Capp, Biff, Bristow, Dick Tracy, Doris, Flook, Fred Basset, If… ,Jeff Hawke, Modesty Blaise, Nipper, Oor Wullie, Peanuts, The Perishers, Pop, Rupert, Supermodels and many others. An opportunity to learn, reminisce, or discover your favourite daily funnies.

Something Melty This Way Comes – exhibition

Monday, August 7th, 2017

Solo show by New York Artist Buff Monster

4 – 20 August 2017

StolenSpace Gallery, 17 Osborn Street, London UK E1 6TD

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Buff Monster says “For this show, I’ll be taking over the front gallery space, turning it into a hybrid gallery show / pop-up shop. I’ve always liked making small-edition collectibles; to me it’s a very natural extension of the work that I make. I recently refocused all the patches, pins, toys and other goodies under the Stay Melty brand. So we’ll have a bunch of those goodies in the shop there (and some new suprises as well).”

Slanted magazine: Helsinki issue – review

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Review by Derek Brazell

This is the most recent issue of Slanted – the Helsinki issue. With a seductively gleaming blue cover leading the reader into a wealth of content, it’s an interesting magazine to engage with.

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The focus of Slanted is on typography graphic design, but when investigating a city (as they do with each issue) they bring in many more elements, talking to creators from the city about much more than type. A questionnaire directed to a designers gives multiple views and attitudes towards their city and country (’Finns have a strong sense of national identity. What does it mean?’)

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Not always expected in design magazine, there is the inclusion of short story fiction – stories which bring the reader into the Finnish experience in a way that straightforward reporting may not do so effectively.

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Illustration is involved, with the regular section of Font Names Illustrated covered by nine illustrators visualising Nordvest, Suomi Kuvaa and others.

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An interesting, eclectic approach to a city and it’s design friendly inhabitants. See more here

The Little White Lies – Movie Memory Game – review

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Text by David Jenkins Illustrators below

Published by Laurence King ISBN: 978-78067-960-0

Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster

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I don’t play many games but this one appealed to me because it is linked to one of my few obsessions, cinema. What exactly is in this box?

Nicely packaged with movie ticket stub containing the main typographic information on the top of the box. There is a little yellow booklet inside containing instructions on how to play the game and a guide to each of the films featured. The interior has a nice turquoise coloured divider for the cards. The design on the back of the cards is full of clichés – perhaps a more imaginative and contemporary approach would have been better.

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The game is obviously not aimed at children as some of the images are graphic in nature and some of the films referenced would be certified 15 or 18? Little White Lies, a popular art house magazine, is partly behind this game for lovers of film/cinema. The films depicted could be considered part of American cult cinema. Maybe there could have been a more global selection.

Work from nine artists is featured on the game cards:

Lola Beltran, Laurene Boglio, Bijou Karman, Tavan Maneetapho, Joseph Manning, Jason Ngai, Timba Smits, Oliver Strafford and Nick Taylor do the honours.

So let’s get playing. Simple premise, but do you have to know the pairings before you can play? The pairings are colour coded, so even if you aren’t sure of the connections you can go by the colour of the background alone – clever. There are 52 cards, 26 showing a portrait of a film character and 26 showing a related prop.

I’m not satisfied by the illustrations in some cases. The ‘There Will Be Blood’ imagery was ill chosen. I had trouble reading the bowling pins and the bowling balls. Surely an oil well would be a more appropriate iconic image for this film.

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The portraits are interpretive so it is difficult at times to recognize the actor or character. In some cases there might be copyright issues linked to depicting stars of bygone eras that might explain this. Actors make their fortunes by being recognisable, perhaps some of the illustrators could have done more to achieve this.

I played the game once with a friend (an avid film buff). After completing it we both stated that it was a satisfying experience, but not one we’d be likely to repeat unless we could add something like a drinking game to the rules. That being said (and despite the adult content) I believe young adults would enjoy this game the most.

An A to Z of Monsters and Magical Beings – book review

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

Illustrated by Rob Hodgson and written by Aidan Onn

Lawrence King Publishing ISBN: 9781786270535

Review by Rachel Morris

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This is a richly illustrated, alphabetical meander through a selection of fabulous monsters.

The text is highly amusing and the illustrations strike a brilliant balance between the boldness of the shapes and the detailed elements. Each featured monster gets its very own double page, so you can get fully absorbed by the Eloko without being distracted by a Far darrig.

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With excellent facts on each spread, such as how to rid yourself of a tricky Hobgoblin, there’s something for readers of all ages. It would be a brilliant way to help a child to rationalise and embrace a fear of Monsters, after all, it’s fun to scare yourself silly, isn’t it? This sumptuous book is also a great introduction to the ancient tradition of myths and legends.

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I caught up with illustrator Rob Hodgson and asked him a few questions about the process of creating this monster feast of a book.

Rob Hodgson: I try to have a personal thing I want to try with each book project. Like, I think it’s cool to use a book as a vehicle to try out an idea you’re into at the time. With this one it was wood block prints. I knew there wasn’t time to do the whole book like that, so I wanted to make some wood cut elements that would repeat throughout in different ways.

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Also I knew I wouldn’t be as experimental if I was buying expensive hardwood to use, so I pulled a load of old wood out of skips to use. I like using pre existing stuff like that. You get all the weird effects from dents and scuffs. My girlfriend always makes fun that I steal stuff to use like a magpie.

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Apart from that, my process for this one went something like this:

- have list of monsters (above)

- write down as many initial reference points that come to mind e.g. Ray Harryhausen for the Cyclops

- sketch the monsters

- research the monsters

- sketch the monsters again

- design each page

- lay pages out in order

- design each page again

- get pages approved

- do the artwork

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When you started working on the A to Z of Monsters and Magical Beings, how tight was the brief?

RH: I seem to remember having maybe 2 months to do this one. Which sounds quite tight now, but I devoted the whole 2 months to it. There were a few weeks of development, a few weeks of generating materials I was going to use, and then a solid month of doing the art. It sounds tight, but I had the whole vibe of it in mind, so it was a project I just did beginning to end with no faffing around.

Did you work closely with Aidan Onn?

RH: I only met Aidan maybe a year after the art was finished! He’s a really nice dude, but our paths didn’t cross on this project. I didn’t even have his text to reference, only the name of the monsters! I really love what he’s done with the text though, he really struck a good tone. We worked on something again recently.

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And on a similar note, how involved in the book design process did you get on this one? Choice of paper and finishes…things like that.

RH: I was involved in the design of the pages, in so much as where the text was going to go. But the paper, dimensions etc were all planned out before. I was sent a blank book for reference, which was nice and doesn’t always happen. It’s always good to illustrate knowing the finish of the paper. This has really absorbent paper which is way more forgiving than glossy paper, so where there are lots of different mediums and colours clashing together, they get a softer home here. Kind of like using analog recording equipment in music, if that doesn’t sound too stupid.

The colours you use really sing out! How do you arrive at the palette you use? Is it a case of using your instinct, or is it ever more scientific than that?

RH: I can’t say anything too interesting about that. Colour has always been a mystery to me, it’s just a feeling to put different colours together. I think maybe it comes from looking and observing a lot? Who knows, I’ve never sat down and deconstructed it, like I have with other parts of my process.

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And finally, what are you working on at the moment?

RH: I’m working on a new kids book I’m writing about some foxes. It’s a follow up to The Cave which came out earlier this year. This one won’t be out till 2019 though – isn’t that a crazy thought? Got a few other kid book stuff in the works and I’m trying to finish a more adult book of short stories about the internet. I don’t know what I’m gonna do with that yet.

So, lots to look forward to for! Meanwhile An A to Z of Monsters and Magical Beings is out on 7th August.

You may also be interested in these book reviews

Have You Seen My Monster?

Worst in Show

Alasdair Gray’s Life in Pictures

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

The Exhibition. Paintings, Drawings and Prints, 1951 – 2017

Until 12 August

Coningsby Gallery, 30 Tottenham Street, London, W1T 4RJ

Alasdair Gray’s self-illustrated, tour de force novels, plays, poetry and short story collections now number more than 50 titles and have been translated into 17 languages, including Polish, Serbo-Croatian and Turkish. He spent 30 years writing his debut novel, Lanark, first published in 1981. Set in his home city of Glasgow, the book combines realism and dystopian surrealism to extraordinary effect. Now a cult classic, it was described by the Guardian in 2008 as a ‘landmark of 20th-century fiction.’

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Alasdair’s virtuoso paintings, drawings and prints have been acquired over the years by various public collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Kelvingrove Gallery, the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and the National Library of Scotland.