Sunday, June 28, 2009

Discover Dewey The 398.2's Fairy Tale Books

In this episode of "Discover Dewey" your friend and guide in all your library adventures, we'll discuss the elusive fairy-tale books, which are not always where you would expect (cue mysterious music)....

The 398.2's is the folklore section of the non-fiction collection, it includes nursery rhymes, folktales, fairy tales etc. They're not with the rest of the picture books because they depict a culture's customs, values and beliefs (in other words they think they're better than Clifford and Babar). Personally I've always found this slightly confusing since there are also some Cinderella's and Snow Whites lurking in the regular kids picture books, but then I'm not a "librarian" so I guess I shouldn't quibble. Anywho, something about the rich stories, fancy dresses and those adorable talking frogs makes for lots of great illustration which is found in many of these books. Below are two beautifully illustrated books that I found

"Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" illustrated by Chihiro Iwasaki, translated and adapted by Anthea Bell, 1984, Picture Book Studio USA.

Chihiro is a Japanese illustrator, I love her squiggly pencil line and blotchy watercolour. Her compositions and use of white areas against bolts of colour is also very effective, for example, throughout the book Snow White wears a white dress.

"The Little Mermaid" illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger, translated and adapted by Anthea Bell, 2004,Penguin Young Readers.

I adore Lisbeth Zwerger, she's illustrated quite a few other fairy tales and children's classics like Alice in Wonderland, and her whimsical, innocent illustrations are beautiful. Her use of colour is superb and I love the tiny spot illustrations that appear sporadically throughout the text.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Design Book Review: Business Cards 3

Title: Business Card 3 : Designs on Saying Hello
Author: Michael Dorrian
Publisher: Laurence King
Published: 2009
Pages: 272
Price: $38.95 (CDN)

I remember the cold wave of fear that came over me when my instructor announced we were going to have to design our own business cards. The realization that I had to communicate my entire being and purpose in life (okay maybe I exagerate a tad) using only a tiny piece of paper was horrifying. It's extremely difficult to come up with an original business card, although the examples in this book show there's still some room for exploration. Although, flipping through the book I wondered how far was too far, for exmaple, the book features one designer who simply scrawls her contact information on any object that's handy at the time ,whether it's a lighter or an old shoe. Personally I think that's not a business card but a piece of garbage with someone's name on it. If I came across such an object I would think "oh, Jill Williams forgot her lighter, I should return it to her" and that's not clever, it's just annoying.

This business card by Australian designer Quan Payne only reveals the designers name when the card is twirled.

I love the cleverness of this card for the Chocolate Casting Agency in London

Secret: I love cardboard. Hence I love this card by Stephen Owen of the UK. I also love these Hatch business cards which are genius and which I have seen in every single design magazine, website or book. They never get old, thank goodness.

Business Cards 3 features many cards I haven't seen, surprising since I've looked at alot of those "100 unique business card posts" online and they get repetitive after awhile. It features designs from around the world and for creatives working as interior designers, illustrators, photographers etc. One criticism of the book is that the format of the photos is always different which makes it look a tad un-cohesive, also the inclusion of flat art instead of having the cards photographed makes it difficult to judge the scale of the cards.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Art Book Review: Jenny Saville

Title: Jenny Saville
Author: Gagosian Gallery
Publisher: Rizzoli
Published: 2005
Pages: 160
Price: $31.50
Jenny Saville

I actually had Jenny’s cover painting in one of my inspiration books (goodness knows where I found it) but I wasen’t familiar with most of her work. This book is a beautifully designed and photographed exploration of her paintings. She paints skin so boldly and gesturally (which suits the dark nature of her subject matter, which includes corpses and pre-op plastic surgery patients) but still manages to give it a life like quality. I find the contrast between her cool coloured portraits (greys and blues) vs. her very warm red ones interesting. Gorgeous photography of her studio and source materials give a glimpse of her process and inspiration, and nicely round out the presentation of her work.

My favourite element of the book though, is the detail shots of her brush strokes, I always find myself peering with my nose to the paper in art books trying to see the texture of the painting. In the case of Saville’s paintings the closeup’s are really necessary to capture the motion and gesture of her work.

Book Review: Simply Packaging

Title: Simply Packaging
Publisher: victionary
Published: 2008
Pages: 240
Price: $26.37 (on amazon, I paid about $60.00 at Oscars)
Simply Packaging

Oh design books why do you have to be so darned expensive. This was a happy graduation present to myself (any excuse to buy an art book) from Oscars Art Books. While it’s a packaging book it’s also a good study of brand identity (including examples of signage and store design). I have seen quite a few of these projects online and in other books, but it’s nice to have all of them in one book, and with the other pieces that accompany them, giving a clearer picture of the brand they support.
I really love these tea bags by Maum, and it’s neat to see the various applications of the simple idea, it shows the concept has legs (well arms really-oh I kill myself). Similar is a self initiated project by designer Elisabeth Soes which is so simple and whimsical, this paper boat tea bag support is beyond cute.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Multistorey Design Studio

Multistorey is a design studio out of London. They have a clean, fresh style that I really like. Their work for a store called Unpackaged is especially interesting since it aims to sell products without the use of packaging, so their identity system had to work around that possible handicap.

The Regional Assembly of Text

The Regional Assembly of Text is a stationary store, but so much more than a stationary store, on Main St. in Vancouver. It's pretty embaressing how many times I said "so cute!" in the time I was in the store, but really I couldn't help it. The store has stationary items, buttons, hilarious form letters for the uninspired letter writer, minature art books, and even their very own library of hand-made art books.

The design of the store is genius, from their whimsical logo to the wall of drawers and files cabinets, to the peg board display racks everything is cohesive and well thought out. It's a really good example of how good branding is about attention to detail, and doesn't have to cost a fortune, I love how even their information about returns etc. is posted on clipboards.

They have a letter writing club the first Thursday of every month at 7pm (you can find out more on their site)and you can also purchase a membership to their book of the month club (but instead of cheesy Danielle Steele you get adorable minature art books) in store.

The Front Windows

The Front is a really great consignment/vintage clothing store on Main St. in Vancouver. They have tons of super cute summer dresses, great deals on gently used shoes and bags and awesome window displays. You can see pics of past displays on their website.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Urban Source on Main Street

Pink submarine hanging in , a eco-crafty persons dream store. They sell industrial remnants like wine corks, old film canisters, petri dishes, badges, tiles you never know what they'll have in stock. Their windows and ceiling are covered in interesting creations they've made from the materials they sell, such as this lovely submarine.

Cool Cat on Main Street

Loved this improvised mannequin that was on Main St. last weekend

Art Book Review: The Art of Vogue Covers 1909-1940

Title: The Art of Vogue Covers 1909-1940
Author: William Packer, introduction by Lady Diana Cooper
Publisher: Peerage Books
Published: 1987
Pages: 255
Price: $20.00 (used)
The Art of Vogue Covers 1909-1940

I bought this eight years ago in a unremarkable used book store in Hope, which goes to show that you never know what you'll find (I could have said don't judge a book by it's cover but that would have been too much). It's since become one of my favorite art books, before I photographed it I had to remove the sticky notes that I seemed to have put on every single page! It contains cover art by Vogue artists like Helen Dryden, Lepape and Benito. The fabulous exaggerated silhouettes and art deco influences are really inspiring. I also love the colours (especially Helen Dryden's use of colour)

and bold, geometric silhouettes, like this winter cover with the women bundled up in her luxurious white fur coat, the flat white circular shapes contrast so well with the dappled snowy background.

The introduction gives a nice summary of Vogue's illustration history and throughout the book which is arranged chronologically, there is a brief paragraph about the important events of each year and short but interesting points accompany each cover. I'll probably post more pictures at a later date because I have too many favorites to include here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Even More Car Free Day

Car Free was so great I had to include as many pictures as possible, epically the free bicycle parking that was available. There was also a booth where you could try out the bike racks that are on the front of buses, I thought this was ingenious because my silly fear of those things has kept me from using them.

Hula-hoopers making us of their new found freedom on the empty road, good uses of the space also included lots of chalk art (is there anything more cheerful than kids chalk art...probably not) and one genius family who set up a small kiddy wading pool and lawn chairs.

loved this sign in the window of a shoe store (it looked really chic considering it's only paint and a stencil, the colours are great)

More Car Free Day

Blim, Vancouver's community based art resource center, had lots of artists and craftsters with tables in front selling their wares. Including Poodlebreath's beautiful work

I espically love the stumps, I can imagine them in a whimsical terrarium. Her glazes are so gorgeous and I like the functional aspect of her pieces, like using the hand plaques for necklace holders. You can find her work on etsy at

(the pictures aren't the best, taken in the hot overhead sun - she has much better pics on her etsy page)

Vancouver Car Free Day on Main St.

view of the crowd on Main St.

On Sunday I went to Main St. for Vancouver's car free day, it was an awesome event with great weather, live music, local artisans, community information booths, and a fabulous vibe of community spirit. The festival closed down streets in four communities this year including main street in an effort to encourage healthy communities, sustainable living and authentic cultural celebrations (woo that!)

One of the best things about the event was that it was attended by so many different kinds of people; hipsters, parents and kids, seniors, lots of dog walkers, craftster mavens, onlookers, hippies, hula-hoopers, tai-chi enthusiasts, typists, musicians and many more. I had a great time just strolling down the middle of the street, it sounds simple but it's pretty neat to walk down the middle of a normally busy street.

The Regional Assembly of Text ( more on them in a later post) had a letter
writing station along with a button workshop.

More on the event plus more pics in next post

Monday, June 15, 2009

Book Review: Gig Posters

Title: Gig Posters Volume 1: Rock Show Art of the 21st Century
Author: Clay Hayes
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 208 pages
Price: $55.95

Gig Posters : Rock Show Art of the 21st Century by Clay Hayes of Includes over 700 poster images and 101 ready to frame posters. is worth a post in itself, it is (as the books introduction states) "the world's largest historical archive of this art form". The website itself is vast, and at times it's not worth the effort to sift through to find the really good work hidden among the average. The book however contains only the very best.
The designers and illustrators are mostly North American with a few European artists. Each artist's work is featured in the form of one full sized poster and a few smaller thumbnails along with a brief, organized bio including info on their education, preferred mediums etc. Each full sized poster is detachable so it can be easily framed. but thankfully the perforations aren't so deep that the pages will detach by themselves over time. The work is exceptional, especially the conceptual images of artists like Jason Munn of The Small Stakes.
The book is oversized, measuring 13.9 x 10.9 x 1 inches so the posters are seen in a more true to life size, than if they were featured in an annual or your average book.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hang-Tags: who knew they could be so great

Hang tags are often overlooked and usually nothing special, this one puts all others to shame.  I'm not really sure what the story is on the faux newsletter inside, but I love the attention to detail and the beautiful tea stained bag.

Japanese Craft Books and More

Who would have thought the foreign language section of the library (or bookstore) would have so many awesome books?  One of the perks of shelving books at the library is getting to see so many different books (and get paid at the same time).  I discovered Japanese craft books via other blogs several years ago, and was thrilled to discover they could be found in my very own library.  Even though I can't read the text, the pictures and even the design are really inspirational.  Craft books have everything from adorable amigurumi patterns to refined, organic embroidery designs. As long as you know to look in the 700s section of each language you can browse the japanese, korean etc books to find some great stuff.

Probably the best website on Japanese craft books is , with tons of links to people who have posted pictures of various Japanese craft books they have purchased.  The website has links to stores like amazon japan and other online booksellers. I know in Vancouver I have seen a good selection at Sophias Art Books and a couple at Book Warehouse.

One book I found in the Korean section was a home décor craft book.  You can see from the pictures the directions are fairly straightforward and easy to follow.

A beautifully designed Japanese cooking book, I love the hand drawn elements and clean use of a grid system.


Some Korean book covers. I espically love the one with the bird, it has such a clean, ethereal, feeling.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What are the 700s?


Why is this blog called the 700s? Because it’s my go to dewey decimal number, the art section of any library. With books on sculpture, colour, design, painting, decorative arts, textile arts, animation, and even numismatics (study/collection of currency). Art books are full of information and inspiration, I surround myself with them and find even the most inane come in handy when my creativity needs a little visual inspiration to get warmed up.

I plan to fill this blog with reviews and recommendations of art books, both ones I own, and ones I wish I did.  Content will also include, my insider information (I work at a library) about great books hidden in surprising places (like the foreign language section) as well as showcasing sites, images and other sources of inspiration.