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An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers Paperback – December 1, 2008
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Amazon Best of the Month, December 2008: Danny Gregory's An Illustrated Life is a visual delight of color and texture--a funky and frenetic "book about books people have made," perfect for chronic doodlers, journalers, and art lovers. Sharing vibrant excerpts from the notebooks of 50 illustrators, artists, and designers, each accompanied by an introduction by the artist, it's a gorgeous, intimate exploration of the creative process. Gregory's passion for the "illustrated journal" is infectious--for him, artist's sketchbooks represent a nonthreatening place to record "risks, mistakes, regrets, thoughts, lessons, and dreams." Whether you are charmed by the illustrations of Amanda Kavanagh, or intimidated by the musings of Stefan Sagmeister, poring over this eclectic group of fledgling and famous "artists" will inspire you to tackle an illustrated journal of your own. --Daphne
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Included are some well-known ("R. Crumb") to the obscure. Teachers and professors, retired and entrepreneurs, housewives and the very affluent, they're all here side by side.
Apart from the illustrations the artists' kept, the most compelling thing are the notes. You get the real sense that if art weren't a part of their lives, in some active way, then they would cease to function as human beings. These are some very raw emotions revealed.
"The true purpose of my sketchbooks is to help me celebrate and truly experience my life...If I don't have my journals with me, I invariably miss them."
-- Cathy Johnson, painter & illustrator
"I draw with fountain pens. A Montblanc `Meisterstuck #149" and a Mamiki `Falcon.' I use ink from Noodler's and watercolors. When I restarted my sketching, I chose Moleskin sketchbooks"
-- Mattias Adolfsson
"Doodling in my books can also be therapeutic. I've genuinely had nasty or upsetting experience that I've been able to get through much more easily by documenting them."
-- Peter Arkle
"My sketchbook is an extension of my art studio. My sketchbook is a place where anything goes."
-- Rich Beerhorst
"A book means a sequences of pages. A sequence means a story and I like to tell stories, even if sometimes it's with no words...I often encourage my children, their friends and students to keep a sketchbook. It is...to consider drawing as a language, like writing."
-- Simonetta Capecchi
"I've gone through many in-out periods of drawing--especially in more recent times. I just don't have as strong a compulsion to draw all the time as I used to. Sometimes, you just have to give it a rest or Life, itself, just overwhelms you and forces you to lay it aside for a time."
-- Robert `R" Crumb
"At about twelve, I stopped drawing all together. My mind was too chaotic to draw or even think in a deep way. I went along like this through high school, college and five years into a job in publishing. At twenty-eight, I found myself in the countryside of France studying skills I realized I longed for all my life."
-- Peter Cusack
This book is a rich testimony of what it means to want to be AND need to be an artist.
An Illustrated Life is chock full of inspiration. In his introduction, Danny Gregory writes that for the 50 artists represented in the book, "These sketchbooks are their therapists, their sidekicks, their crying towel." As someone who has been filling sketchbooks (though not as consistently as I would like) since I started drawing and painting in kindergarten in the 1950's, I know that sketchbooks can be all that and so much more. When I was in art classes in high school and when I was in art school, my fellow artists, most all of whom always carried sketchbooks, provided a lot of inspirational spark and spirit, as have other artists who I've been around at other times in my life. But sometimes the solitary work and play of the artist calls for sources of inspiration more suited to quiet time in the studio or workspace/playspace (whether that's in a building or at a park bench, etc.), and for that An Illustrated Life is an answer to a prayer and a true gift. (Speaking of artists' workspaces, I appreciate the half-dozen or so photos of artists' workspaces that Gregory included in this book. It's always nice to be reminded that I'm not the only artist with a cluttered, messy workspace!)
The book costs whatever it currently costs at Amazon; the kind of inspirational spark it can provide artists is priceless. And it should provide lovers of visual art who are not artists with many hours of enjoyment as well. If you feel the least bit drawn to it after glancing inside it (via Amazon's "LOOK INSIDE!" feature or in the Customer Video Review by Parka), do not hesitate to order a copy.
An Illustrated Life is a compilation of sketchbook pages from 50 illustrators all over the world. Each journal is packed with sketches, captions and a narrative as the artist talks about his sketchbook. At 266 pages, some of the scans are a little small if you want to read the writings. One reader I found bought a magnifying glass just to make sure every detail isn't missed.
Every page is a surprise, every page is a discovery, a glimpse of what the artists is thinking, seeing and feeling. It's the perfect book to go to when you're looking inspiration and motivation.
Most artists have their websites listed. It's another avenue for exploration. Jjust to name some, they are R. Crumb, Christoph Niemann, James Jean, Peter Ankle, Cathy Johnson, James Kochalka, Brody Neuenschwander, Chris Ware, Stefan Sagmeister etc.
Danny Gregory has published a truly wonderful book. I really love it. It's well worth every single cent.
(More pictures are available on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)