Review: Art Oracles: Creative & life inspiration from the great artists

Who doesn’t need a little bit of advice every now and then? I know I do.

Especially when it’s from famous artists, presented alá tarot cards, reminiscent of oracle decks for guidance. If mysticism is indeed and alive and well, why shouldn’t there be one in the realm of art? We look to old masters (and even new talents) for inspiration, so it makes total sense to revere the ones who has left an indelible mark on the world. If you’re nodding along to this so far, then you’ll be intrigued as I was with Art Oracles, sent to me by the lovely people at Laurence King Publishing.

Gifts for artists that are interesting and unique are far and few in between (which is why there’s so few review of them on here), but I’m very thrilled to have found it in Art Oracles. The deck has 50 cards, with a helpful booklet that details each artist’s biographies and instructions on how to use them. Basically, you select a card whenever you have a question that pertains to either life, work or inspiration, and glean what you will from the history of greatest artists, painters, architects and designers via fortune-cookie style proverbs. At a glance it may seem a little simplistic, but the more I delved into each saying, the more it made sense. Take a cue from Marcel Duchamp: “Making it look easy is hard,” or the wise words of Frida Kahlo – “Externalise your internal world.” Its cryptic brevity leaves the deciphering to the eye of the beholder. Magic!

Written by Kayla Tylevich and illustrated by Mikel Sommer, it’s a beautiful deck (gold-foiled, no less) that has the ability to be light and yet serious enough to work across all creative disciplines – a perfect counterpoint to the fast-paced, mad world of art and design. Think of it like a magic 8-ball for creatives, only more aesthetically pleasing with a whole lot more range to its answers.

Even if you’re not one for new-age mysticism, Art Oracles is enjoyable and insightful, and would make an excellent gift for yourself (or a friend). I’m not the only ones who think so too – check out the reviews and get it through Amazon.

Images from Art Oracles: Creative & Life Inspiration from the Great Artists by Katya Tylevich and Mikkel Sommer Christensen (Laurence King Publishing, 2017).

Frida Kahlo by Alba Editorial

Frida Kahlo

Hi folks,

I’m sorry about the radio silence over here on the blog – I’ve got good reason for that besides the Work/Art/Play workshop that I’m wrapping up this week! Long story cut short, I had oral surgery and I’m recuperating. It wasn’t fun at all. It essentially was one of my biggest nightmares come true (I’ll tell you about it later). But! It’s half-way done, and I’m going to have to sustain myself on soft-ish food for around 6 months. So here’s me saying yay to unexpected dieting (keeping it positive, peeps!) so I can move forward to more adventures.

As a result of me slacking away, some things have piled up. And not just about the guilt that I’m feeling. I’m talking about real, tangible stuff – things like books. Great people have been sending me books from all around the world and I feel terrible about not being well enough to show you the treats I’ve been getting (yes, my definition of a treat is books, books and more books – uh, book nerds unite?)

So to get things back on track, here’s one I received from the ever wonderful Gee Fan of Minifanfan  – it’s a story about Frida Kahlo, published by Alba Editorial, illustrated by Gee Fan and written by Mª Isabel Sanchez Vegara. (NOTE: The book is in Spanish!)

This title is part of a children’s books series that talks about some of the greatest achievements made by women from all over the world. Alba Editorial has 2 other titles out in the collection: Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel, illustrated by Amaia Arrazola and Ana Albero respectively.

I think it’s wonderful to have more titles like these that offer a glimpse of strong women figures in the arts scene (there’s so many!) With children’s books you can’t quite dive into their story so much, but it’s a great start to pique the curiosities of young minds! Now if only we can get these translated into English. Hmmmm.

Also, I made a flip through of the book which you can see below, and I’m so proud of Gee Fan’s work, especially since it’s her first children’s book!

You can order the book through Alba Editorial (where you can also see the rest of the book in the series).

Review: 100 Great Children’s Picture Books

Screenshot 2015-08-25 18.11.10

 

I’ve been doing some research into children’s picture books recently, and was thrilled to hear that Martin Salisbury wrote another book after Children’s Picturebooks: The Art of Visual Storytelling. Published in April this year by Laurence King Publishing, 100 Great Children’s Picturebooks is a visual feast, and offers a nostalgic look at 100 children’s books from the last 100 years.

With the many, many children’s books out there, the selection criteria for the book ultimately boiled down to good art and good design; and it doesn’t disappoint. I could imagine how difficult it was for Salisbury to whittle down the selection of books to the ones contained in this tome; and especially since most of the books within are mainly from UK/USA/Europe (although not all of them were in English) – I was sure that to have Asian children’s books added to the mix would have made the task even more of a challenge.

Each profile is arranged chronologically, with details of the book covers, inside pages, publisher, date of publication, commentaries, storyline, and the illustrator’s process and body of work. An impressive amount of research was done for the book and it shows. Some of the books were from the author’s own collection (as well as some who were in his own words “begged and borrowed” from friends, colleagues and students.)

It was hard to pick out a favourite spread from the book (there’s just too many!), but Babar’s story – of how Laurent de Brunthoff’s father Jean created the series, but died from tuberculosis at the height of the characters (and the books) fame when Laurent was 12 years old. He picked up where his father left off when he was 21, and has since created more than 30 additional Babar titles in the last 60 years.

More than just eye-catching covers and informative, beautiful page spreads, 100 Great Children’s Picturebooks presents a historical look at how illustrations and stories have entertained children and adult alike, and will continue to do so in generations to come. It would make a wonderful addition to any picture book lover’s library.

{Available via Amazon}

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