Friday, 11:30am
1 November 2013

Books received #4

Biografiktion, Graffiti School, Travellers’ children, Tretchikoff, Soho divas and Xerography

Biografiktion (Nobrow Press, £18.99, $29.00) is a book of fictional stories about celebrities, set in comic book format.

The collective, known as Édition Biografiktion, formed while the members were students at Berlin’s University of the Arts, includes Ana Albero, Till Hafenbrak and Paul Paetzel. Celebs under scrutiny include Abba and Eddie Murphy, who, under the influence of drugs, lives out his ‘wildest fantasies’ and is haunted by all the film characters he has ever played. The book also includes chapters called ‘Human News’ and ‘Pizzafiktion’ that are printed in a mixture of fluorescent-coloured illustrations and black-and-white, pencil-drawn comic strips.

Cover and spread from Biografiktion, by Ana Albero, Till Hafenbrak and Paul Paetzel.
Top: spread from Soho Dives, Soho Divas: Rian Hughes sketches London’s Burlesque Artistes.



Graffiti artist (also known as Jeroo) Chris Ganter’s Graffiti School: A student Guide (Thames & Hudson, £12.95) is an introduction to graffiti techniques and style, aimed at ‘legal sprayers’ who value artistic quality and professional finish.

Early chapters attempt to contextualise graffiti, looking at it from cultural, historical and artistic perspectives before moving on to theory and design. The majority of the book is a series of exercises in drawing letters – tagging, throw-ups, 3D blocks and shadows – and spraying. The book also includes a teacher’s manual.

Cover of Chris Ganter’s Graffiti School.


Travellers’ Children in London Fields (Spitalfields Life Books, £10) is a book of 1980s photographs by Colin O’Brien taken of travellers’ children in and around Martello Street in the London borough of Hackney. Their caravans were parked in the then-neglected area for a three-week period. O’Brien gained the families’ confidence and trust by giving Polaroid portraits to the children to take home to their parents.The resulting black and white imagery is a stunning look at a different way of life, and illustrates the close bonds between the children of the community.

Cover and spread for Colin O’Brien’s Travellers’ Children in London Fields.



Incredible Tretchikoff: Life of an Artist and Adventurer (Art/Books, £15.95, $24.95, €18.95) is a book about the Siberian artist Vladimir Tretchikoff. His paintings, reproduced en masse through the 1950s and 1960s, including the ‘Green Lady’ or The Chinese Girl, as well as Miss Wong and Balinese Girl, are instantly recognisable to British, Canadian, Australian, Kiwi and South African people who recall that era. As a celebration of art shown in the ‘galleries’ of department stores, Boris Gorelik’s book plots Tretchikoff’s adventures to fortune through Shanghai, Singapore, Japan-occupied Java, London and Cape Town.

Cover of Boris Gorelik’s Incredible Tretchikoff. Portrait by Johan Wilke, 1952.


Soho Dives, Soho Divas: Rian Hughes sketches London’s Burlesque Artists (Image Comics, £22.50, $29.99 or £37.99, $49.99 for the limited edition hard cover) is full of eye candy – ladies in lingerie, leather and lace. The project began as a series of life drawings, that developed into a small black and white book and became this series of more than a hundred scans and digital illustrations of burlesque dancers in London’s Soho.

Cover and spread from Soho Dives, Soho Divas: Rian Hughes sketches London’s Burlesque Artistes.

Soho divas_cover

Soho divas1

‘Xerography’ is an exhibition at Colchester’s Firstsite gallery and features works by Wolfgang Breuer, Paymond Pettibon, Sol Lewitt and Sarah Lucas, and many other artists. The ring-bound catalogue (below) is appropriately printed using a photocopier on coloured stock and features Xerox advertising, short essays (by Stephen Willats, Bruno Munari, and Steve Taylor, among others), a list of works and artist biographies. ‘Xerography’ continues at Firstsite until 10 November 2013.

Cover and spread from the Xerography catalogue, continuing at Firstsite gallery, Colchester, until 10 November 2013.


Spread showing Jim Shaw’s Untitled (Colour Xerox #22), 1976, black and white photocopy (left), and Laurie-Rae Chamberlain’s Pistols singer slashed, 1977, colour photocopy. Photo by Dave Morgan (right).


Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.