Category > Art

Handwritten: Expressive Lettering in the Digital Age

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Handwritten: Expressive Lettering in the Digital Age by Steven Heller and Mirko Ilic, book reviewTechnology never stops advancing and offering new possibilities that make processes more straightforward, including those needed by artists and designers. Sometimes, however, we react against highly professional, faultless work and yearn for a return to arts and crafts that have a more natural feel to them, that look as though a human hand actually made the artwork. “Handwritten” is a book that shows us one aspect of the world of art where designers are in fact shunning the perfection of technology. It presents handwritten typographics from advertising campaigns, mainstream culture, record covers and other types of artwork from all over the world.

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Michael Freeman’s 101 Top Digital Photography Tips

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Michael Freeman's 101 Top Digital Photography Tips by Michael Freeman, book reviewWhen I made the transition from a compact digital camera to a digital SLR last summer, I knew there was going to be a lot to learn. The instruction manual that came with the camera did not give enough information, and I have since been looking at books that could help me to take better quality photographs. Perhaps the best I have looked at so far is Michael Freeman’s “101 Top Digital Photography Tips”. The quality of the paper and the superb design of the book immediately draw you to it, but as you start to leaf through the pages you realise that there is much more to it than the look and feel. It delivers on information for all levels of photography, whether you just point and shoot or you are a professional.

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Faulks on Fiction

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Faulks on Fiction The Secret Life of the Novel by Sebastian Faulks, book reviewIt seems to me that there are (at least) two sides to Sebastian Faulks. On one hand there’s the genius writer of fantastic books like Birdsong and The Girl at the Lion d’Or which are so convincing that he tells us that readers refuse to believe he just made them up. On the other there’s the slightly stuffy chap who appears on dull but worthy Radio 4 programmes like ‘The Write Stuff’ (surely a show designed for rather smug clever people to show off how clever they are to an audience of baffled listeners) and looks like the sort of chap who probably has leather patches on his corduroy jackets. When I was offered Faulks’ latest book I was excited because he writes such fantastic fiction – but when I realised it was non-fiction, my spirits dipped a bit. I probably should have given him more credit.

Faulks on Fiction is a companion book for the BBC 2 series of the same name which starts on Saturday 5th February.


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Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl

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Grayson Perry: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl By Grayson Perry, By Wendy Jones, book reviewGrayson Perry is the sort of person about whom it’s hard not to have an opinion. Mention his name and people fall into three broad camps; those who say ‘Grayson WHO?’, those who say “Ah yes, the controversial potter who won the 2003 Turner Prize” and everyone else smiles and says “The bloke in the dress”. As the wife of a man who’s utterly obsessed by ceramics and spends his life researching potters and stalking the older ones in order to ‘buy before they die’ I was aware of Perry quite a while before he hit the mainstream.

We were sitting in the kitchen of an elderly but very esteemed potter who’d just given us a very nice lunch when the gentleman concerned started to rant about Grayson Perry.

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The Oxford Companion to English Literature

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The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature (Oxford Paperback Reference) (Paperback)  Edited by Margaret Drabble, Edited by Jenny Stringer, Edited by Daniel HahnOriginally published in 1932, this definitive guide to English Literature edited by Margaret Drabble has been updated on several occasions. The main focus of the alphabetical listing is writers and their major works. Writers of course include authors, playwrights and poets. Shakespeare is afforded two and a half pages, which must be one of the longest entries. (Milton’s is comparable.) Within the entry for any writer, an asterisk next to the title of a work or the name of another writer indicates a separate entry where more detail can be found. So, if you want to read about one particular Shakespeare play, look under its title rather than under Shakespeare.

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A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel

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A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel By Tom PhillipsDescribed as ‘A Treated Victorian Novel‘, ‘A Humument‘ is the creation of artist Tom Phillips, and he has been working on it for around forty years. I first became aware of him when I was an art student at Manchester Polytechnic and became interested in creating visual art that relied on words taken out of context. Phillips was certainly an influence on me, but I’m afraid all but two of the lecturers on my course steered clear of me and apparently did not understand what I was trying to do. The fact the Phillips’s work has prevailed gives me a little faith in myself, but that is another story. My brother is one of the few people who remembers my artwork, so when he came across a copy of the fourth edition of ‘A Humument‘ at the Pallant House Art Gallery in Chichester about a year ago, he bought it for me as a birthday present. I was delighted.

Phillips has taken a Victorian novel originally entitled ‘A Human Document’ by W. H. Mallock and transformed each page into a miniature work of art, selecting certain parts of the text and then using various media such as collage, watercolour or gouache over the top of the remainder of the text to create images and ‘poems’ that are in turn beautiful, funny, erotic, bizarre, intricate, … the list goes on.


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Negotiating with the Dead

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 Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing by Margaret AtwoodHaving read and been so impressed by several of Margaret Atwoods works of fiction, I imagined that a book written by her about the art or activity of writing would prove to be an interesting read. As explained in the introduction and prologue to the book, the chapters here are based on the Empson Lectures given by the writer at the University of Cambridge in the year 2000.

Chapter 1, entitled Who do you think you are? is mainly autobiographical, tracing Atwood’s early years from her birth in Ottawa in 1939 up until her undergraduate student days at Victoria College, the University of Toronto.


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