book review – charley harper: an illustrated life

charley harper: an illustrated life book review

charley harper: an illustrated life – £16.58

if you are a charley harper fan and don’t already have this book, i can guarantee you’ll love it. if you’ve never heard of charley harper, but like colourful, geometric, clever and interesting illustrations i’m sure you’ll soon be enamoured too.

i have the bigger original 2007 version of the book, but have linked to the ‘mini’ 2011 version, which i imagine is the same, just smaller. any references in this review will refer to the version i possess. the book has 385 pages, not including the index and translated interview in the back. it’s hardcover and the colours and image reproduction are bright and clear. obviously in real life his paintings must look even better and more vibrant.

normally back covers have a blurb on, or are a bit more plain, but not here! a few more images are scattered in the pattern like way that they are on the front. the end pages are predictably delightful too.

charley harper book back cover

an illustrated life endpage with autumn leaves and ladybirds

the giant golden book of biology

the book starts off with a foreword and an interview with charley. after that comes the main part of the book, which is sectioned into publications and their dates. even this has a clean, minimal feel that fits well with his style. there’s a good selection of images in each section, and i really love how you can see how his style has developed over time, yet is still undeniably ‘charley’.

i actually first came across his work via the golden book of biology (not when it was released obviously) and have been in love with his work ever since. if i could ever have my own copy i’d be one very happy lady. his illustration earlier in his career have a bit more detail, and colour variation, compared to his work later on (his bird illustrations and ford times ones for example) which is much more minimal, with little detail and fewer colours per piece.

an illustrated life: 4 men holding a snake

charley harper: an illustrated life

charley harper - monkey eating red ants

charley harper: an illustrated life - birds

charley harper: an illustrated life

charley harper zebras

the book is absolutely chock-full of images and anyone could easily wile away a good bit of time admiring them. there’s a good mix of bigger full page images, and smaller images that share a page and i feel they’ve been laid out in a way that flows very well. charley was a very talented man who made paintings, posters and murals, all of which are featured within the book.

this book is an absolute beauty and one of my most treasured possessions. i would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone, but especially those interested in illustration, colour and/or animals and nature. one sure to stir your imagination!

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  • Reply Katrina Sophia 24/08/2015 at 18:45

    This looks like something I would LOVE to read/look at!! Beautiful colours, shapes..actually, everything about it is damn beautiful. Putting it on my wishlist or ask it for my birthday/Christmas this year!!

    Katrina Sophia

  • Reply Jane 25/08/2015 at 14:45

    I’m in the never-heard-of Charley Harper camp but these illustrations are beautiful! It would be the nicest coffee table book ever.

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