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The Art of Looking Sideways Hardcover – August 20, 2001
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Alan Fletcher's The Art of Looking Sideways is an absolutely extraordinary and inexhaustible "guide to visual awareness," a virtually indescribable concoction of anecdotes, quotes, images, and bizarre facts that offers a wonderfully twisted vision of the chaos of modern life. Fletcher is a renowned designer and art director, and the joy of The Art of Looking Sideways lies in its beautiful design. Loosely arranged in 72 chapters with titles like "Colour," "Noise," "Chance," "Camouflage," and "Handedness," Fletcher's book, which he describes as "a journey without a destination," is "a collection of shards" that captures the sensory overload of a world that simply contains too much information. In one typical section, entitled "Civilization," the reader encounters six Polish flags designed to represent the world, a photograph of an anthropomorphic handbag, Buzz Aldrin's boot print on the moon, drawings of Stone Age pebbles, a painting of "Ireland--as seen from Wales," and a dizzying array of quotations and snippets of information, including the wise words of Marcus Aurelius, Stephen Jay, and Gandhi's comment, "Western civilization? I think it would be a good idea." Fletcher's mastery of design mixes type, space, fonts, alphabets, color, and layout combined with a "jackdaw" eye for the strange and profound to produce a stunning book that cannot be read, but only experienced. --Jerry Brotton, Amazon.co.uk
From Library Journal
This vast collection of assorted visual and verbal content is loosely strung together by the common thread of whatever captures the attention of celebrated designer Fletcher best known for his founding roles in the English design firm Fletcher Forbes Gill and the internationally recognized design group Pentagram. A table of contents (with headings such as "Learning," "Noise," and "Imagination") provides a loose structure for what is an otherwise unfettered stream-of-consciousness outpouring. In the author's own words, the book is "a journey without a destination." The book is tailor-made for those with short attention spans, since any given thought or narrative rarely runs for more than a spread. A worthy companion to other large, contemporary, designer-orchestrated explorations of visual culture, such as Bruce Mau's Life Style (Phaidon, 2000) or John Maeda's Maeda @ Media (Rizzoli, 2000), this book will delight anyone who enjoys unexpected visual and verbal play, cultural and historical observations and insights, and staggering amounts of trivia and anecdotes. Best suited for larger public libraries or libraries with extensive liberal arts, fine arts, or art history sections. Phil Hamlett, Turner & Associates, San Francisco
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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If you are a designer, you NEED this book. Whether you design websites, or print media or even if you design gardens or interior decor, the out of the box thinking that this book is so good at triggering will help to keep your work fresh. If you are not a designer, but you love design... maybe you don't "need" this book, but you definitely want it.
This might look like just another artsy coffee table book that you'll look at once and put on a shelf forever, but I sincerely hope you don't do that. Even if you can only find the time to flip through it over a cup of coffee once a quarter, the visual tricks displayed in this book will make you glad you picked it over any one of the other coffee table books you had to pick from. This one might actually keep your brain alive.
This is an ideal gift for a design student, or for anyone interested in design and typography. It is also excellent for anyone interested in how the mind works or in advertising. A brain puzzle enthusiast, and even a magician would like this. If you are furnishing a cabin or a weekend retreat, this is a terrific book to get for that, too. It even has a dual use... it's big and heavy enough to use to press flowers. I have actually photocopied pages from it over the years and put them up on the refrigerator or other places. That was back when I was designing print media.
I've thinned out about 80% of my books over the years since I bought this book, and it has made every cut. If I had to cull my books down again to half of what I have now, this book would still make the cut.
If you have need of an operational manual for juicing your cerebral cortex to new levels of inquisitive creativity this is the one. Fletcher translates high concepts into samplers from the everyday. It's dimsum for those who find the world humorously complex ... or ... unintelligible at core. There may never be book like it gain. If you want something very different, fun and interesting ... this is a good bet to please. I've given away 3 or 4 and see they remain in continuous read mode, which is only appropriate.
It's quirky. It creeps into your brain. I've recommended it to several eclectic friends. They all come back smiling after making the investment.
This book does not disappoint. The day it was delivered, I couldn't wait to page through it to view the content - and I couldn't put it down! My husband finally took it away from me so I didn't break the spine before giving it as a gift.
If you're in the graphics industry, this book is for you. The essays are great - humorous, serious, and thought-provoking - and the graphics are beautiful. Each of the over 500 2-page spreads focuses on a different idea, and the title couldn't be more appropriate. It makes you think about the many ways you can (and should) look at everything you see - from print collateral to webpages to people - and life!
This one's a keeper. I gave it to my niece early because it's big and heavy - not something to cart to a graduation dinner - she LOVED it!
I'm ordering a second copy for me, and will definitely consider this as a gift again not just for students in the graphics industry, but for graduates in any discipline - it's a fun read and a visual delight.