Spring 2006

Packed with pics

Illustration Now!

Ed. Julius Wiedemann
Taschen, £29.99

While plying its trade in erotica, Taschen discovered the art of satisfying its punters by giving them what they want: big, flashy, straightforward books, in three languages, all at a reasonable price. They have been so successful that the books as objects – their size, their high quality production values, their very appearance on the shelves – are as identifiably part of the ‘Taschen Brand’ as the content between the covers. Illustration Now! maintains this quality brand with aplomb. Most books might struggle to include 100 illustrators, but Taschen effortlessly delivers 150, alphabetically, over 544 image-heavy pages. Combined with introductions by Brad Holland and Steven Heller, this makes for an essential directory for students and art directors alike. Where this book scores top marks is in its lack of pretension. It doesn’t promise an exhibition in a book experience; it simply shows what is happening in illustration now – a brief that is succinctly promised by the book’s title. Moreover, all accompanying text is kept to a minimum, allowing the illustrations to speak for themselves.

Among the many pleasures offered by the book, I was delighted with the impressive and innovative illustration coming out of Spain at the moment. Especially noteworthy are the witty and clever portraits by Hanoch Piven, the fabric and embroidery illustrations by Paula Sanz Caballero, and the elongated figures by Fernando Figowy. It was also heartening to see the inclusion of artists such as Holland, Jordin Isip, and Mirko Ilic (all of whom were featured in the illustration special in Eye no. 35 vol. 9). Any list, however large, is as notable for its exclusions as it is for its inclusions. I was disappointed not to see the work of Tom Gauld, or Aude Van Ryn. However, I am sure, in the spirit of Taschen, that there will be space for them in the future bigger, flashier, revised edition.

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