Pick of the Week: Hell Babies by Junko Mizuno

junko mizuno (1)Pick of the Week: Junko Mizuno’s “Hell Babies”

Hell Babies is a 2006 art book by artists Junko Mizuno that features her illustrations of surreal female characters that can be described as kawaii, disturbing, sexual and gothic all at once. Hell Babies is 94 pages and features her work from 1998 to 2001 with a padded sparkly plastic cover (I love this cover). She divides the book into 3 sections, starting with Hell Babies from 1998-1999, Vulgarity Babies 2000, Baby Files 2001 and an extra Unpublished Babies section that is on shiny cardstock. Each page in most cases features 1 manga/comic style illustration of a particular baby, usually along with her name in English and Japanese. The section for Baby Files is slightly difference and features a short story about each baby which I enjoyed very much. All the illustrations featured are very reminiscent of her currently style although less refined. It’s a good look into the start of her career and each illustration is very unique and indivialistic. The book is very well curated and flows nicely together, each illustration deserves its place in the book and it doesn’t grow boring or repetitive at any point. As an extra bonus at the end of the book there is page that can be cut out to make a paper doll with several outfits and accessories. Hell Babies would be a wonderful addition to your collection if you appreciated Junko Mizuno’s art, however if you are more use to her newer work you might want to pick up Flare instead. I have the Upgraded version which features the extra Unpublished Babies section for those of you wanting to pick this up (some versions are signed by the artists as well). I picked up mine a few months ago from Akatako.

a closer look at the book:

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Pick of the Week: The Polaroid Book

Polaroid Book (5)

Pick of the Week: The Polaroid Book

The Polaroid Book is a hardcover 352 paged book about Polaroid photography dating back from its inception to the 1990’s. The photography within the book is a selection taken from The Polaroid Collection of Photography that was started by the company’s founder Edwin Land and landscape photographer Ansel Adams. The book starts off with a wonderful description about how the Polaroid Collection started and about how these two great men meet. It adds insight to the curating of this collection that is valuable from a historic point of view as well as being very interesting. There is also an incomplete guide to Polaroid cameras which is very silly since it only covers the years from 1954 to 1978. As well there is a great list at the end that gives as many details as possible about each photo like location, date it was taken, title, artist, and the film used. Oddly enough each written part is translated into French and German on top of the English, which explains why this book is over 300 pages long. There are around 250 Polaroid photos contained in the book that cover the gamut and cover pretty much all facets of instant photography. The photography represents use many various film types, sizes, artist techniques, after effects, subject matter, time periods and so much more. There is no rock left unturned with work from great photographers of that time, well known artists, and even amateurs. Edwin Land’s desire to collect Polaroid photography was very fruitful and end up with a magnificent collection of both color photographs and black and white. I can only imagine what viewing the whole collection would be like. This is very much the definitive addition of Polaroid photography and within it you can find a wonderment of photography from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. This book is very much a treasure and is beyond engrossing. It must be said though that this book is not appropriate for all audiences due to its large amount of nudity (not a fan myself of the amount of nudity featured in the book). Regardless the stunning photography contained in this book mixed with the historical journey of Polaroid is worth picking up this book.

a look of some of the pages below:

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Review: The Last Unicorn

the last unicorn

Saturday Review: The Last Unicorn

(graphic novel)

The Last Unicorn is the classic book by Peter B. Gillis transformed into a graphic novel by illustrator Renae De Liz and Ray Dillion. This luscious 167 paged hard covered graphic novel marries the illustrator’s vision with Gillis’s story of the last unicorn on earth. It’s a wonder adaptation of this already amazing tale and brings to life the original work is such a way to heighten the source material. I may be a little bias when it comes to this graphic novel because this happens to be my favourite movie and one of my favourite stories so bare that in mind. For anyone familiar with the 1982 movie it will be easy to draw the similarities between the art style used in the movie with the one used in the graphic novel. I find these similarities soothing as a fan of the movie as that was my first experience with The Last Unicorn and this is tends to be true for many people. It would have been much harder to get into the novel with an art style that was a major department from the movie. Although with that said the similarities are mostly with the red bull and the last unicorn. The human characters of the story have a much more modern look to their face and all in all the feel is much darker then the movie was. I love the use of color in the illustrations, they use color wonderfully to convey the overall mode changes in the story and it’s very effective. It’s very cohesive considering there are multiple illustrators working on it and they put a lot of thought into the characters and the foreground. It appears not small detailed was over looked and the illustrations are spectacular – it is a pleasure to turn the page and be surprised at the beauty of the next scene. Probably one of the most breathtaking graphic novels I’ve read. They have added an interview with the author Peter B. Gillis at the end, as well as a biography which is a nice touch. For anyone who has seen the movie or read the original novel this is still an amazing read and stands out on its own merits. If you are new to The Last Unicorn tale I would advise picking up the graphic novel first as it’s a wonderful way to read to the story and the illustrations adds so much dimension to the already rich story (watch the movie though – the music is irreplaceable). I am personally in love with this book and am tempted to use the artwork for a tattoo that’s how much I adore it. I’ve included a selection of the artwork below from the book but keep in mind it’s a 167 pages so this is only a peak.

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Review: Twinkles by Miss Van

miss van twinkles (2)
Miss Van “Twinkles

Miss Van’s first book “Twinkles” is a 88 paged hard covered book featuring her paintings from the art show of the same name as well as others.   Miss Van or Vanessa Alice Bensimon started out as a graffiti artist in France before moving into paintings around 2004. Her feminine characters have taken a departure from the cartoonish quality of her street art into more mature and refined area and the colors this time around seem to be more dark and intense but as always they remain the focus of her work. “Twinkles” is filled with her known coy and mischievous feminine figures as well as exploring the themes of masks, animals, and the circus/cabaret.   The work is presented in the book almost always on its own with some spanning across both pages and a few side by side. I love the order of her work and how it moves you along to the different ideas she is exploring, dipping in to the brighter paintings before bring you back into the moodier pieces. However the physical layout doesn’t work as much as it could, the paintings spanning across to pages frequently are left with the usual awkward placement of the focus being concealed in the spine of the book. And as most paintings are left simply on one side, I grew a little weary of the bright white page beside it taking me out of her tone. I think they would have been better off doubling up the pages as it works wonderfully when they do and kept me more immersed. They added information of each work to the page with name, year, and material – always a nice touch. The quality of the book is very good and I always enjoy books on the large scale, measuring at 25cm by 32cm. There is a brief intro in the beginning of the book that servers are highlighting the progression of her work and add more context to the paintings. I would have liked to have had something written in her own words instead. All in all “Twinkles” shows a move in her work to a darker tone and it does a great job of showing the reader her work from around that time (2010). This is book for the fan of her later painting work, much like her newer book “Wild at Heart”. It must be said that it is still a great book to pick up even if you are more a fan of her graffiti or earlier brighter colorful paintings. Her work absolutely captures my attention and I am pleased to have added this to my collection.

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Saturday Review “Paper Cutting”

papercutting

Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft

                  Paper Cutting complied by Laura Heyenga highlights the resurgence of paper cutting art in the last few years and featuring 26 international artistes who are currently creating innovative and intricate pieces of work in176 pages. It starts off with a preface by Rob Ryan which is delightful and captivates why people get into paper cutting as a way to express their artistic desires. The preface is followed by a 10 paged introduction by Natalie Avella that is informative and a bit long winded. Natalie’s introduction starts off strong explaining the origins and history of paper cutting and how it started out in China in 600CE up to the current resurgence of interest in the craft. After the strong start, she goes into brief detail about contemporary artists and their choice of mediums and subject matter. At the beginning it feels informative but lags toward the end when it starts to feel like someone gave her the list of what artists were going to be featured in the book and ask her to write a paragraph blurb about their work. This would have work if it had been incorporated into the book in each artist’s section, it is not however and each artist section already contains a blurb describing the same things without Natalie Avella’s personal impressions and to make matters more repetitive there is biography in the back as well. However containing each blurb into the introduction creates this weird flow. In fact the structure of the introduction gives it away as she just uses paragraphs for each artist almost eliminating any flow at all from one artist to the next when reading. It would have been nice if they had insisted on structuring the book this way to also perhaps included artists that were not featuring in the book to give a complete canvas of paper cutting artists. This is a minor issue, as honestly although I do read introductions but I do not get much value from them in art books. The inclusion of artist’s work in the introduction was the only thing really propelling me to the next page. So introduction aside this is a beautifully put together book with a variety of types of paper cutting artists who use a plethora of materials. It does not just single out artists who white stock paper, instead showing colors and installations,  shadow pieces and pretty much all the types of paper cutting that exist currently. The work featured in this book is captivating, and faithfully captured for our eyes. I especially enjoy the installations and the shadow pieces which were shot wonderfully. Each artist is given several pages with multiple pieces of work shown, with the information on each piece like date, name and sometimes materials. I love how they’ve created each artist name in paper cutting font, it is a simple but elegant touch. Speaking of nice touches, the book sleeves include paper cutting in them, with the front sleeve having flowers and the back birds.  It was the first thing I noticed about the book and I adore it. This is a magnificent book and as soon as I caught my eye on the cover at the Architecture Centre’s gift shop I knew I had to have it. My experience before reading this book with paper cutting was always seeing student work at Universities and it always amazed me then and this books gives you a look into a fascinating medium and wonderful pieces of art. Its really must have, and a great way to see fascinating contemporary art.

A look at the book:


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Satruday Review: Tara McPherson “Bunny in the Moon”

bunny on the moon (2)Bunny in the Moon by Tara McPherson

The latest hard-covered volume of Tara Mcpherson’s art, Bunny in the Moon complies her art from 2009 to 2012 in 112 pages. She writes in Acknowledgement section “the third time is the charm so they say, and you know what? I agree”, and I agree as well with that sentiment. I thoroughly enjoy her putting the effort to continually publish books of her work, especially in such a digital age where many artists settle for having a website and gallery shows (that are not accessible unless you frequent New York or LA). Bunny in the Moon has much the same format as the previous books except there is no comics included in her latest. Like the previous 2 books there is sketch work and her structure of dividing the book into paintings, posters and sculptures. However unlike her last book Lost Constellation, this comes across as meatier and doesn’t relay as heavily on repeat images in the paintings and the poster sections as well in showing every painting’s sketch. Although keep in mind that most paintings and posters have the sketch work included, and the book is compiled with sketches getting around 40% of the space.  I enjoyed the artwork from Bunny in the Moon and although she does not depart from the symbols that are present in all her earlier work it comes across refreshing.  There is an evolution of her work without missing out on the things fans have come to love about her style. After being disappointed with Lost Constellation, I was very pleasantly surprised by this book and think for any fan of her work that it is a must. If you are new to her artwork, I highly suggest picking this one up as her bright vibrant work will delight you. For the next book, I hope there is not such a focus on sketch work but I guess we have 2 more years to see!

Don’t forget you can check out her website as well, its lovely!

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Saturday Review: Bansky “Wall and Piece”

banksy (1)Bansky “Wall and Piece”

Wall and Piece documents Bansky earlier career as a graffiti artist between the years 2001 to 2005 through pictures taken of his work. The book is 240 pages of sometimes crude photography (it’s unclear if all the photos are taken by him) as well as his own insight into his work. He splits the book into sections, Monkeys, Cops, Rats, Cows, Art, Street furniture. My impression of this book on first glance was not good, pictures of graffiti sometimes not that well taken didn’t seem that appealing but going through the book showed me how wrong I was. The first thing that struck me about Wall and Piece when I started going through it was how much of an experience it was instead as my first impression that is simply photos of graffiti. Bansky includes information on as many pieces as possible like how many days or hours it stayed up, the reason behind certain pieces or motifs, political opinions, where it was done and even anecdotes about the people who owned the property where he made it. These offer a unique insight into the mind frame of the artist Banksy and a little to the why’s that surround his art. There is something so telling about him as an artist that he not only goes back to photograph the art he has made but also that he knows how long certain pieces have stayed up for. I was caught off guard about details like that. The photography in parts of the book do a great job at putting you in front of the graffiti like you would see it in person, and showing the surrounding area for certain pieces really elevates the overall impression they give. Since I’m not in the UK, it’s not likely that I will ever see his work in person unless I’m travelling so I really appreciated this detail in his book. Some work needs context, and his work works best with as much context as possible. I found the book humorous and as someone who has always been intrigued by his art and believe in the messages he supports with his graffiti I found the book fantastic. My favourite section was where he showed himself in the middle of museum’s installing fake art. His fake art reminds me of one of my favourite art movement’s the Dadaist and I see Bansky very much to be in the vein of their work. There is a lot of thought and detail put towards his work, and certainly the same thought was put towards this book and it shows. I laughed while going through it which isn’t really an emotion you get often with art books. Honestly anyone who is into current art, art that is changing the world and art that calls for change, I suggest picking up this book.

*below are shots of the book

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Saturday Review: Camille Rose Garcia “Tragic Kingdom”

Tragic Kingdom (1), camille rose garcia Tragic Kingdom: The Art of Camille Rose Garcia

Tragic Kingdom is a 131 pages art book by Camille Rose Garcia, a LA based pop surrealist and lowbrow artist. It chronicles her artwork from 2000 to 2006 and has a illustration chronology as well as 4 separate introductions by Susan Landaver, Daniel Keegan, Doug Harver and Carlo McCormick.  The introductions are the usual art critic fodder, I find these really useless for enjoying the art contained in any given book and usually just give a quick read or skip. I’d rather have a book without these  introductions, but it harmless to skip through them. So those aside this is a solid book and covers a large amount of Rose Garcia’s work through the years and contains paintings, prints, drawings, and sketches. Out of all her available art books, this one has the largest body of work and is very thorough and covers the broadest range of her work. Camille Rose Garcia work focuses on “everyday violence that supports the current power structure” with the mixer of her childhood spent near Disneyland. Her artwork is very dark yet contain cartoon imagery and does a phenomenal job at combining these opposites aspects of life together seamlessly to create a unique art form of lowbrow. Not to mention the color scheme, unique and filled with whimsy yet creates such a creepy tone. I adore her artwork and love this book, its massive, the dimensions are 27.9  x 35.5 cm and its the largest book I have on my shelves. I love that about it, such a great way to digest art. The layout is very well thought out and I love the see through sketches pages, I have another art book that contains these and for some reason I just love this inclusion. The illustration chronology is very insightful and cute and I loved reading and learning more about Camille Rose Garcia in this way. Very informative and its done in such a great way. Tragic Kingdom was an amazing few hours spent flipping through and her artwork is the type that even after repeat viewing I still find some new emotion or character lurking in the background. I was over joyed when I got this in the mail having had limited exposure to her artwork and its probably one of my favourite art books. I hope you enjoyed this review! Let me know what you think of Tragic Kingdom in the comments.

Select photos of Tragic Kingdom:

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Saturday Review: 3D Art Book

3d art book, citizen erased, citizen erased photography

3D Art Book

The 3D Art Book by designer Tristan Eaton is a collection of street art and contemporary art transformed into a 3D version of themselves. With 100 pieces of contemporary artwork this 223 pages book has almost every current artist represented like James Jean, Tara Mcpherson, Shepard Fairey, Junko Mizuno, Miss Van, Ron English and many others from genres like street art, graffiti, pop surrealism and graphic design. Eaton with this book is trying to bring back the 3D popularized in the 50’s, you know the one that needs those retro style red and blue-lens glasses to view. (Dont worry along with the book you receive 2 pairs of 3D glasses to help you view these artworks) As a kid I loved three-dimensional pictures, there is something about the popping out and trippy nature that really always appealed to me, however as an adult beside the occasional 3D movie I haven’t really looked much into 3D world beside a random piece of art here and there. What Eaton has done as taken know artist’s work and transformed them to a whole new piece, using this nostalgic form of 3D. I love this novelty, its very appealing to me and that’s why I picked up this book because it seemed a great way to experience artwork – and it is. The book is fantastic, you feel apart of the artwork and it adds elements never previous felt about each work, however there is some cons with this style. For instant I found a few images never really ‘popped’ for me, despite starting at them for a long time*, instead they came across limp (*you have to look at each image for certain amount of time so you eyes can adjust and actually reveal the 3D effect). As well as a person who has average motion sickness (I wouldn’t consider myself to have extreme or sever motion sickness at all) this book is deadly, after going through the book for 10minutes I manged to give myself a 2 hour long headache and I can mange to watch most 3D movies without issue. However this last con is avoidable, so it is definitely worth hitting up the gravol is you have any issues with motion sickness or 3D effects so this book can be fully enjoyed. I loved it, there is enough artwork in here to satisfy the genre you like, for example if graffiti doesn’t do it for you, there is still plenty of other stuff to look at it. My favourite pieces where James Jean “Shattered”, UPSO “Untitled” and Mint and Serf “Untitled”. The artwork ranges from full page, two pages, and everything in between and it is just plain neat to flip through. I loved it so much and will come back and re-look at it again and again. The novelty of the 3D never wears off while your looking through the book and the pacing  and sequence is very well thought out. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a good collection of contemporary artists works or for anyone who’s ever liked 3D, and really as a child of the 80’s and early 90’s didn’t who didn’t love 3D; I remember having comics and stickers and being over the moon when I found something that required those retro 3D glasses.

I’ve added images below of the book so if you have by any chance 3D glasses at home you can have a quick look at some of the artwork.

 

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Saturday Review: Camilla d’Errico

camilla derrico, femina and fauna, citizen erased photography

Camilla d’Errico: Femina & Fauna

Femina & Fauna is a 2011 art book by Camilla d’Errico, with 112 pages showcasing her mix of cute girls and animals. Camilla d’Errico is a Vancouver artist who has been around for a very long time, and even though there is many artists who have a similar style to hers, d’Errico always stands out above the others. She divides the book into paintings, black and white, and other works like toys and products. This for me is the only real mis-step she makes in the book, the section for products in very small only 8 pages, but its extremely bad taste. Toys and sculpture is a very modern way for artists to expand themselves nowadays, and that comes off well in art books. But products….that screams tacky to me, she doesn’t even dedicated the pages to just 1 product only but repetitive shots of the same pillows, metal wallets in 8 different prints,  and the same t shirt from 2 different angles each. It comes across as advertising and not even subversive good advertising. My reaction was that I had already bought the book, i didn’t need to be sold things. Overall all this book is great for any fan, it includes vibrant full pages images of her best known paintings, and if simply looking on her website is not enough then its for you. If you just like cute girls with animals – my suggestion is to buy her postcards (Chapters has them at a great price), not only can you simply use them as postcards but as mini-prints for framing or putting on your wall and you are getting the same quality, vibrant colors and almost the same pieces of art. For her next book I hope d’Errico decides not to make a cash grab and leave that her website or magazines. Hope you liked this review!

Check out images of select pages below:

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