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Reviews of creative books. Illustration, photography, fashion, textiles and more. If you are a publisher or book author/creator, and would like to work with me, get in touch!

book review – vera: the art & life of an icon

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i’ve wanted vera: the art & life of an icon since it came out in 2010 and finally bought it some time last year. totally worth the wait. the quality of this book inside and out is fantastic, not to mention the imagery within. the book itself is hardcover, with 208 good quality pages. full of illustrations, photographs and text about vera and her work.

there’s a quote on the back cover from vera herself that really resonates with me: ‘color sings to me. color is such a marvelous way of expressing emotion. we have so many problems in this world; color just brings a little bit of joy into our lives‘. i think many colour lovers feel that to their core.

this book is (obviously) full of veras very colourful, bold and playful designs. if you’re a fan of midcentury images, warm colour palettes and florals, i can pretty much guarantee you will love her work, and this book. it seems as though it has been well researched, and is well written too. veras life and other interests are delved into, which really rounds the book out and make it more than ‘just’ something wonderful to look at.

i would wholeheartedly recommend vera: the life & art of an icon, on the images alone, but it’s so worth the read too. for those studying (or interested in) textiles, illustration, or anything creative and visual, this book is sure to inspire.

book review – marimekko: in patterns

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oh, marimekko. how i adore thee. obviously, going into this, i knew i was going to love marimekko: in patterns. i bought it for myself as an early christmas present last year  …i was tempted to get the postcard set, but glad i went for the book instead. the book is a good size to showcase the patterns and is 248 pages long. pretty much the only thing i have to criticise about this book is that i wish it had a harder and/or thicker cover.

most of the book showcases the patterns we know and love, and some you may not have seen before. they’re largely shown in a full page format, though some images are shown in situ as textiles too, which i very much like – as it’s always nice to see things being shown with their intended use.

another thing – and something that i think is very clever – is that on each page where there’s a pattern, there’s a margin that’s made to look like the information that’s printed on the selvedge. love things like this.

as well as patterns and photos, there’s also write-ups about some of the marimekko designers. i really appreciate having background info and an insight into the people that make the things i love.

the book is well made, and despite the flimsy cover, quite sturdy. the colour reproduction and quality is excellent and as i mentioned before, the size of the book is just about right to be able to appreciate the patterns. the layout is well thought out and shows you marimekko imagery from it’s beginnings up to modern day.

marimekko: in patterns is a book i’d recommend to marimekko fans, as well as fans of patterns and textiles in general. i can see this being of interest to those interested in home decor, fashion, and art/illustration too.

book review – lifestyle illustration of the 50s

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book review - lifestyle illustration of the 50s

to be honest i bought lifestyle illustration of the 50s on a bit of a whim. i knew i’d like it though because a) it’s a book full of illustration b) it’s a book full of illustration throughout the 50’s, and i love the style, colours, patterns and imagery from that era.

this book is huge too, infact it has 512 pages total. it’s crammed full of illustrations from the very beginning of the 50’s to the end, and as you can see from the image below, you can see which years are represented with starting page numbers.

i think this book would benefit from being a little bigger (height/width-wise), but that aside, it’s a fair size. the colour reproduction is great, and the images are clear and bright.

content page - from 1950 to 1959

1955 illustrations

50s woman in orange coat and pink scarf

there are many full page (and some double page) spreads, and a lot of smaller spot illustrations too. i think the mix of these is just right, and feels balanced well throughout in terms of layout. it’s fantastic having the bigger images, as you can really see the details like brush strokes and the details of the clothing.

besides the illustration and the fashion, one thing i really love about this book is the colour schemes within the images. i find them incredibly inspiring and they just really seem to spark my imagination. i don’t know if this is because i’m a huge fan of colours prominent in fashion throughout the 50’s – orange, pink, yellow, olive, various blues, etc ..or just because the colours look so good together that it sparks something in me.

the only thing about this book i have a problem with (perhaps less a problem with the book, and more of the time itself – but i can’t say for sure) is that there is a real lack of racial diversity represented. i would have absolutely loved to have seen illustrations of people during the 50’s coming from other ethnicities. if there was a book on 50’s fashion and lifestyle illustration made by and from the viewpoint of modern day illustrators i would hope there would be more diversity. i’d definitely buy that!

woman with white hair holding glass globe with birds in

illustration of two young girls talking

my last point aside, i’d happily recommend lifestyle illustration of the 50s to anyone that has an interest in the 50’s, fashion in general, fashion of that era, illustration get my drift. it’s jam packed full of inspiration from colour, to style, to illustration techniques, poses and much more. almost all the images are credited with their maker too, so it would be a good starting point to research some image makers at that time.

also, if you prefer the 60’s there’s a lifestyle illustration of the 60s book, too.