Sophie’s Fish

by A.E. Cannon (who loves Cheetos and Oreos!) and Lee White (who loves to bike, I think?!)

I really think artists might be some of the coolest people out there. (Some might say just plain ‘out there,’ but that’s neither here nor there. Nor anywhere.)

What? Where were we?!

When I saw Lee’s illustrations come through my email inbox, I seriously got whiplash from how fast my jaw hit the floor. His art has a charm that swept me off my feet and rendered me speechless for a moment or two.

Not a usual occurrence.

Sophie’s Fish explores all the things that just might happen if you get asked to babysit a fish. Hysterical. Hysterical!

The compositions are gorgeous. The textures leap off the page. The colors are snappy but soft. The whole thing? Is perfect.

Like this spread…

The sidewalk creates intersecting and interesting lines which gives such life and movement to this one still picture. And from an overhead perspective even! So cool. And those dreamy, complementary colors.

Or this one…the DING DONG page!

Don’t those layered textures make you think you could just reach out and touch it?! The crumpled rug, the splintered door, and that calm, but rough sky. I LOVE THIS SPREAD.

Did you hear me?! (One of those non-speechless moments!) This book is a gem. A winner. A beautiful piece of art.

You owe it to your imagination to sit a while with this one.

Henri’s Walk To Paris

So Saul Bass {1920-1996} illustrated this. You know him, even if you think you don’t.

Recognize any of these?

Saul Bass undoubtedly has a powerful legacy of corporate logo design, but he is also considered the father of the title sequence. I can’t say that I was well aware of him before I was a motion graphics designer, but as an animator, I am very influenced by his strong use of line and his bold color palettes.

{You can see a roundup of his title sequences at Art of the Title.}

And that’s fancy and whatnot, but then he created this sparkling kids’ book.

Henri is just a little French garçon who dreams of Paris, but lives in Reboul. He packs up some cheese, a carrot, and a piece of bread and walks himself there. But {SPOILER ALERT!} he doesn’t make it. A little bird disrupts his navigation, and he ends up right back in Reboul. But Henri? Thinks he made it, and thinks Paris is quite like home. And we love him for that.

In graphic design, unity is the quality that ties individual elements into a beautiful whole. Me talking about Saul Bass is like a dirty sock puppet oozing with glue and googly eyes having an opinion on Jim Henson. He’s a master craftsman, and so let me just show you some moments I love.

Check out these consecutive spreads. The typographic element that reflects the title IS Henri. And from one page to another, there he goes, walking off to Paris. This graphic drives your eye forward and invites you to dive into this book. And of course it tiptoes left to right. It’s how we read, and it simply signifies forward motion. Smart is an understatement.

He doesn’t clutter this illustration with a window sill, curtains, or many details of the room inside. It doesn’t matter. The story is outside. This is a brilliant use of negative space.

Henri’s tiny house, contrasted with the vast world beyond. And color…green and red are direct opposites on the color wheel, so the tiny pop of red is a perfect choice to offset the mass of green.

Soothing pattern repeats in those thousands of trees and the zoo full of animals.

A reminder of the cover, a peek into Henri’s walk. And below, a shift in perspective and point of view.

So Henri leaves home and returns again. Likewise, Saul Bass’ pictures ramp up to the climax of the story, and repeat again as Henri heads home. That same window repeats, that same wide shot of the tiny white house sits still again, only with different text for a different time in the story. It’s a detail that’s hard to show in pictures, but on an overall visual read of the story…it’s magnificent.

Henri’s Walk To Paris in reprint is a gift I didn’t even know I was was on my wish list. It’s joining this monster on my coffee table-slash-corner of my desk.

Bee & Bird

Bee & Bird by the delightful Craig Frazier is a surprising and grin-inducing read. Every time. And each time may be a different read for you depending on the perspective you take and the story you see.

Intrigued?

You should be.

Bee & Bird is a bright and bold wordless picture book. Each illustration is a tightly framed snippet of a larger action. Page by page, your job is to fill in the blanks, to predict, to wonder, and to enjoy.

ELEMENT OF DESIGN: UNITY

Unity refers to the whole of a design being more important and cohesive than any of its individual parts. Each separate element (or illustration) stands alone satisfactorily and beautifully, but the experience as a whole is extra special. The similarly toned colors, the lines and shapes in backgrounds and textures, and the different perspectives {note the boundary-pushing use of scale and size} on each page all contribute to the unity of Bee & Bird’s design.

Graphically, these pictures are loud and striking  -a perfect accompaniment to the unexpected journey of this bee and bird. So, so crisp and inviting and full of oomph. {A very technical graphic design term; do not argue with this teacher!}

And they holler out to the reader {YOU!} to come on over, pull up a chair, and get involved on this trip.

Enjoy!

Duck! Rabbit!

It’s a rainy morning in beautiful downtown Burbank. (I hopped over to YouTube to find a clip of Johnny Carson’s description of “beautiful downtown Burbank,” and realized Burbank is named after a dentist?!! A dentist? Ew.)

Anyway, it’s a morning perfect for a second cup of coffee, NFL RedZone, and slippers from a hotel in Bangalore. (My boyfriend went to India and all I got were these paper slippers.)

(I love parentheses this morning apparently.)

ANYWAY.

Are you following all of the excitement of Picture Book Month? Just checking.

Anyway, AGAIN.

This book:

Based on this illusion:

is. so. much. fun. Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, Duck! Rabbit! is a delightful volley of ‘Which is it?!’ What a dream team…I’d love to be their third wheel!

DESIGN INTENTION: PERCEPTION

This book is funny and clever and brain-stretching, as it asks its young reader to consider perspective and multiple possibilities of reading a singular image. The dialog between two pals happens on either side of the gutter, clearly defining who says what as they attempt to convince the other that it’s a duck. Or a rabbit.

Because the book is a square, it opens as a long and short rectangle, perfect for framing the duck/rabbit. Smart, smart choice of book design.

And whatever his intention, I just love the way Tom Lichtenfeld kept each spread contained within that thick black border, the same thickness as the line outlining the duck/rabbit.

So. What is it? A duck? Or a rabbit?

I’m going with a ruck. Or dabbit.

PS–Check out this cute trailer for Duck! Rabbit!