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Review – “Mirror” by Jeannie Baker

 

"Mirror" by Jeannie Baker

 

In her new book, “Mirror”, Jeannie celebrates the  differences that makes up the diversity of world cultures and the elements that unite us, the bonds of family and the mundanities of every day life.

Even the presentation, as two books united within one cover, highlights  ‘same and different’, but highlights it in a way that draws us closer to both families, the traditional Moroccan family and the modern Australian family.

Turning pages of each book simultaneously, reveals parallel aspects of the daily lives of these very different families.  We see them with the intimacy and immediacy of a fly on the wall. They are at work,  at meals, settling for the night, shopping and sharing. The colours are luminous and the details absorptive. Words are superfluous!

I have always been a fan of Jeannie Baker’s beautiful, evocative, detailed collages. This latest book is a treasure!

“Mirror” by Jeannie Baker, Walker Books, ISBN 978-1-4063-0914-0.

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Part II. Mattias Adolfsson the Illustrative Storyteller

Like all good illustrators, Matias is a storyteller with paint and ink. The joy of working with folk like Mattias, Angel Dominguez, Bernhard Oberdieck, Nick Harris, Sarah Davis and others, is that they can load layers of meaning into a single picture adding dimension to the text. They are also able to add illustrative subplots of their own that augment the main plot and add visual interest. The other joy, and I speak here as a writer, is that their very doodlated sketches and ‘just for me/ for fun’ works  speak, story positively oozing out the edges. I have episodes of  total right brain escapism let loose with Mattias’ tantalising takes on everything and anything and more. Many of the Wacky Wordages on my blog or available for teachers and students and others  via www.sharing-books.com, are the result of such episodes of  creative indulgence.

Characters

Beatnik Dragon [alias Mattias?]

Beatnik Dragon -alias Mattias?

Gnu with G[n]un

Gnu with un Gnun

Monster 4

Monster 4

Person carriage with mini-elephant

Person carriage with mini-elephant

and more characters…

Piggles

Piggles

Sky Dragon

Sky Dragon

The importance of flat sock ironing

The importance of flat sock ironing

Bertie in bath - character in "Improbable Adventures..." with J.R.Poulter

Bertie in bath - character in "Improbable Adventures..." with J.R.Poulter

Jennifer: The comic book element is present in many of your blog posts, you mentioned a course in comic writing/creation. What brought on that deviation? What are you ambitions in venturing into that genre?

Mattias:

I’m not a big comic reader (I used to be though) but I’d like to do some kind of comics/book soon. My priority has to be making a living though, so it’s hard finding time making something like books and comics on my own time without the monetary backing.

Jennifer: The sense of story in your works is strong. Do you have plans for your own children’s picturebook? What about a darkly humorous graphic novel? [You keep tantalizing us with hints of projects underway.]

Mattias: I have a problem with too many ideas at the moment, I need to focus on print and leaving the web perhaps, I spend far too much time doing internet things. Maybe a yearlong web sabbatical would do the trick.

Characters in current book project, “Improbable Adventures…” :

Elery takes off

Henry takes off

Elery

Elery

Henry & ice-cream truck

Henry & ice-cream truck

Jennifer: I find your work inspiring in a dangerously right brain way!

Do you find the drawings evolve themselves from the end of your pen and do their own thing or do you try to control them?

Mattias: I often say that the drawing kind of evolves rather than being planned, but when I look at the drawings I do, or rather, I can see certain themes, I guess that my right brain does know what it wants to draw…

Some of Mattias’ ‘right brain inspired’ series :

Rocket series: Goth Spear Tower Rocket

Rocket series: Goth Spear Tower Rocket

Robot sea creature series: Magnetic Fish 3

Robot sea creature series: Magnetic Fish 3

Domestic Monster series: The Manual Clothesline

Domestic Monster series: The Manual Clothesline

The House Flower Series - House Flower 1

The House Flower Series - House Flower 1

Jennifer: Do you get many approaches from the corporate world? I mean if I were Mojo, I’d want you to design my logo! What are some of the more oddball commissions you have had?

Which commissions do you enjoy the most?

Mattias: I get some approaches but not enough and far too few are oddball, I’d love to do textiles or pottery (not sure about the right name for this). The strangest was doing fashion Illustrations for an English magazine (I’m totally uninterested in fashion). The best commissions I’ve done are when I get a free hand (surprise)!

A variety of  output….

New Ideas in Vacuum cleaners

New Ideas in Vacuum cleaners

This is the back of the book "Till mitt barnbarn" Mattias had been working on, it's all the objects from the first page neatly packed.

This is the back of the book "Till mitt barnbarn" Mattias had been working on, it's all the objects from the first page neatly packed.

Jennifer: There is a great ‘new’ interview with Mattias on Design Taxi for the curious. So, Mattias, having barraged you with questions, which one that you DESPERATLEY wanted me to ask, have I left out? Now is your turn!

Mattias: Do you sometimes fret over if you are too much of an illustrators’ Illustrator and may be not have a very commercial style?  The thought has occurred to me lately. I’m trying to get commission work and maybe an art sales rep, but it’s hard and very time consuming.

Jennifer notes: The mechanics of earning a living with art and literature require,  especially in in the early stages of ‘breaking in’,  other work which  seems constantly to threaten to rob that precious and closely guarded creative element, ‘time’, and yet the  art/literature is the raison d’être and the other, the ‘intrusive’ work, merely essential if the writer/artist is  to do something as mundane as eat.

More variations of Mattias’ output:

Parade: on a roll - Some additional drawing to the book Mattias is doing (Bonnier & Carlsen) with his sister as a designer.

Parade: on a roll - Some additional drawing to the book Mattias is doing (Bonnier & Carlsen) with his sister as a designer.

Cooking utensils series - done whilst commuting on the train

Cooking utensils series - done whilst commuting on the train

57 birds and one owl

57 birds and one owl

Early adopters adopting their adaptations

Early adopters adopting their adaptations

Lonely Chinese Tree

Lonely Chinese Tree

A rose is a rose is a rose

A rose is a rose is a rose

And, just to show Mattias does not just do humorous work, but very delicate and detailed pieces as well, I have included the flowers at the end of the interview.

Those of you hungry for more – go to :  http://www.mattiasadolfsson.se/  http://mattiasa.blogspot.com/

Interview with Mattias Adolfsson, the Lewis Carroll of C21st illustrative art.

Cool

Cool

The Addictive Wackiness of Mattias Adolfsson – Sweden’s leading  innovator in the  illustrative arts

Jennifer: I hesitate to ask, your right brain is so hyperactively active who knows what it will let loose, but from where does all this creativity come! Inherited, evolved or from somewhere, dare I ask where, else?

Mattias: Evolved perhaps, but It might have been inherited from my father. My Father was a very funny man, he never got to get an education but I think he had great potential as a Illustrator as well. He came from poor conditions though and had to leave school early.

The Melon Mine Ball House

The Melon Mine Ball House

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise

Sketched Whilst Wandering

Sketched Whilst Wandering

The Frontline Sky Ark

The Frontline Sky Ark

Jennifer: As a kid, did you get the bedtime story treatment? What were you favourite stories? What were the illustrations/illustrators you remember most vividly?

Mattias: I really can’t remember getting the bedtime story treatment, but my mother started sticking books in my hands at an early stage (she continued until late in my teens suggesting books, she still does it). I’m rather Euroscentric in my upbringing, my favourite Illustrators as a child where: Oscar AnderssonTove Janson , Kjell Aukrust ,  and with Richard Scarry as an exception to the rule.

Osckar Andersson

Osckar Andersson

Tove Janson

Tove Janson

KJell Aukrust

Kjell Aukrust

Richard Scarry [ Scary]

Richard Scarry / Scary

As for stories, I early got hooked on European (gallic) comics, Tintin and Asterix, I used to read them and still do.

Herge's Tintin

Herge's Tintin

Asterix-Albert-UderzoGroo-Sergio AragonesJennifer’s Comment: I think readers will agree there are some  curious elements of these influences seeping through.

[Mad’s master of detailed mayhem can’t help himself, even his website in seminal form features, Groo, an example of his madcap  characterisations.]

All three artists have an anarchic humour both lauding and subverting utopian ideals and just about everything else in between, Herge, of course, being the subtle one of the three. Where do readers see Mattias flitting in and out of here?

Jennifer: You refer to your love of Mad Magazine’s Sergio Aragones what drives you to detail so transfixing, so almost maddeningly effusive? It is an art in itself to take in all of some of your creations at once! [Can we accuse you of having anything to do with behind the scenes of Where’s Wally?]!

Mattias:

I think the main influence in this is the books of Richard Scary, (where’s Wally is not something I have seen, but I’ve heard it mentioned often). Sometimes I get a craving for leaving the very detailed work as it is hard to take it in, it is lousy as traditional art.

[Note from Jennifer: No, Mattias please don’t. We LOVE the detail!]

"Soupilification" Tree

"Soupilification" Tree

Big Red Animal Bus

Big Red Animal Bus

Sargasso

Sargasso

Death-Star

Death-Star

The detail is mindblowing and maniacal and insidiously addictive. You could study it for hours and still pick out new facets.

Jennifer: I think I mentioned to you once how your incredible machines reminded me of the crazy inventions depicted by Heath Robinson last century. You feature many maniacal machines in your work, what is the fascination?

Mattias: I’m not sure, to be frank I’m not that into machines, sometimes I use the drawing as some kind of meditation, they start to live by themselves.

[Jennifer: The Machine has a life. Mattias’ machines have a humour and character like no other I have seen comparable.]

Horse Powers

Horse Powers

City Dweller

City Dweller

Jogger

Jogger

Migration2

Migration2

Jenny Wagner once said that no children’s book should have a mchine at its heart. In the case of Mattias’ robottic house machines, I would have to disagree. They verge into the realm of the Iron Man, I Robot and even Bicentennial Man. There is a drama and pathos about them that mitigates against the sometimes bleak black humour of civilisation gone  in search of itself.

Jennifer: The architectural elements of your work have also been compared to Hayao Miyazaki. What inspires you particularly about brick, stone and wood construction?  You tell how you started out to be an architect but diverged. How did that come about?

Mattias:

I love buildings and especially of the older kind. Though, when I started studying Architecture, I soon found out that I wasn’t too good designing modern houses. So now I can design what building I want, not having to think about the dwellers.

Captains

Captains

Floaters

Floaters

Church

Church

Ship of the Desert

Ship of the Desert

Oltec-Space

Oltec-Space

Jennifer:  Your recent scholarship sojourn in Greece produced a wealth of work which we all saw evolve over the months on your blog site. Tell us about winning the scholarship and where you see the outworkings of that experience taking you?

Mattias: Well winning was not that hard, it goes to professional Swedish Illustrators ( and I guess not too many can leave home for one month). I’d love to do more traveling and drawing but, in order to do that, I’d have to finance it in some way, maybe via some magazine.

Jennifer’s note: Mattias sketched the most ordinary and extraordinary and made them all ‘art’. He interspersed his online blog diary with the mind expanding mischief his followers have come to love. These, not necessarily from that period, exemplify. [For more still, go to http://www.mattiasadolfsson.se/  http://mattiasa.blogspot.com/ ]

Grumpy disher - dishwasher/toiletcleaner

Grumpy disher - dishwasher/toiletcleaner

House Flower1

House Flower1

Left Dragon

Left Dragon

Learning to Fly

Learning to Fly

Over Ambitious

Over Ambitious