60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2006
This book is Fletcher's unique and personal collection of visual imagery, design articles, factual and cultural curiosities, idea sketchpads - and more - collated and distilled into book form. The book's packaging and presentation is exquisite, while each page is a beautiful example in the use of colour, space, type and imagery.
The size and scope of this book is immense. As a visual design resource, it is an inspiring collection that can be opened at any page for new ideas or direction. Divided over 72 chapters with such diverse titles as "Synchronicity", "Perception" and "Space-Time", the thematic divisions give a helpful structure to this mass of visual and textual information.
To say that this is a large and diverse collection of illustrations or a sketchpad is inadequate and does not do this book justice. This book explores relationships between the word and image - how colour, space, type, and image work together to signify meaning - and present these relationships to the reader in interesting and challenging ways. What at first glance may seem an obvious message, takes on new meaning in a specific context. Fletcher expertly manipulates such contexts to challenge the reader's perception and accepted interpretations of everyday imagery. The reader is cleverly coerced into "looking sideways" at imagery and text. The result is an often suprising, sometimes humourous, yet always enlightening realisation that what we take for granted around us in everyday life has alternative meanings. If only we could learn how to shift our gaze and look differently at the world around us, we may learn something new.
74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2005
This is simply an astonishing book that is a joy to own.
This is a large book with over 500 large format pages. It is described by its author Alan Fletcher as the work of a visual Jackdaw to produce an exploration of the workings of the eye, the hand, the brain and the imagination.
As he describes it 'The book attempts to open windows to glimpse views rather than dissect the pictures on the wall. To look at things from unlikely angles.... The book has no thesis, is neither a whodunit or a how-to-do-it, has no beginning middle or end. It's a journey without a destination.... It is unlike most books, those that are concerned with the mechanics rather than the thoughts, with the match rather than the fire.'
The result is not a book to sit down and read sequentially from cover to cover, rather an environment of ideas and stimuli through which to journey, an exploration in which to become immersed.
Reading the other reviews, many seem to come from graphic designers, indeed the author is a renown graphic designer himself. The result is a book that is a delight to hold. The different paper types and textures, intriguing layouts and inviting formats mean that every page turned leads to new discoveries even before their content is examined. Its merits as an exemplar of the art of design are clear, but this is much more than a role model for designers.
It is a book that in infinite ways serves as a catalyst for thinking. It has a multifaceted ability to present aspects of the world in new ways, that defy you ever again seeing them the way you always have in the past.
Through the imaginative use of images and text, quotations, snippets of information, and a host of other approaches, this is a feast for the mind as well as the eye.
It's not simply a book that I can't stop dipping into, I can't stop smiling at the fact that Alan Fletcher took the time, care and attention to detail to share it with me. It is quite simply a pleasure to hold and a feast to read.
142 of 145 people found the following review helpful
on 13 October 2001
I found out that Oscar Wilde said that the things worth learning are not taught. Read this book and all the weird little things people can't explain will be brought to light. Such as how the symbol ? and ! came about. Lots of images that make you laugh and think (my dad collects lots of peculiar things and i showed him the page of a poster saying 'We buy junk and sell antiques' It made him laugh) This book is all about art (not portraits or paintings but observations) and perception of the world we live. Buy this book and you will learn a thousand different things, all useless but valuable to know, if you see what i mean. The author himself says he sought to learn the things no one could teach him. He certainly gives you an experience, if you are interested in anything peculiar or weird then give this book a whirl. You will gain an insight into a thousand minds in one book, a cool achievement. The book is tremendous value too...
Worth having just for fun quotes like "3 o'clock is too early and too late for anything you want to do" jean-paul sarte or "a person without imagination is like a tea-bag without hot water"
So go on on, add some hot water to your life...
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2002
This book is stunning - a visual exploration of how a designer's mind thinks. It's a must have for all creative thinkers and especially design students. Witty, full of fascinating snippets of information, you can dip in and out of it or sit and peruse it for hours. One of the best things I've bought for ages.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2002
this is one of the greatest books i have ever looked at (read is the wrong word). It is a scrapbook, but one that will never get boring.
not abook to read from cover to cover, but one to walk past, pick up, and learn from. you will always open it on a diffrent page, and always find something interessting.
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2002
One of greatest designers of the world, retired and sat down for 20 years to compile what I believe ( and not just me ) is the most inspirational book of the decade. Encyclopedia of the creative glaze. Alan Fletcher's new Book is a garden, in his own words, an amalgation of his universe, his collection of notes, drawings, thoughts, souvenirs and everything that blinks, that twikles, composing an incredible book experience, a guide to catch up when you are bored, desperate, happy or sad. Organised through themes such as Imagination, seeing etc...you can open it everywhere, anytime. As a brick of Knowledge you go to it when you need inspiration or when you are feeling empty. The Book is a marvellous guide to creativity and life experience, the art of looking sideways stands as the most positive manifesto of imagination ever done. It presents Alan Fletcher way of looking at the world. But not just his words or images are compiled inside ,the book is full of texts and images from all sources and artists, each of them perfectly quoted. In his words a book of an honest thief. Aproximetly 2 Kg of knowledge and imagination. And the price is extremly low, for its 533 pages.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2002
At the risk of repeating other reviewers' comments - this book is a godsend for present-giving. If you're searching for a present for people who have everything (or nothing!) this is it. Absolutely fascinating - I cannot think of anyone who would not be completely engrossed, fascinated and charmed by it. Art (and just about everything else) with a sense of humour - would that books were this enjoyable all the time!!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2003
This is one of the most remarkable books I have ever come across. It will not simply encourage you to look sideways, but up, down, through, behind, beyond, above, below......it will enrich you because it will expand not only your visual awareness, but your curiosity and your capacity for delight. It reminds us of the best in humankind when we are despairing about the worst. Somebody once said - we cannot control the length of our life, but we can control its depth, breadth and height. This book will help you do it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2009
This is a bit of a departure for me... as an animation modelmaker who's looking to understand graphics and illustration to enhance my work I normally buy books which explain the mechanics of creating art or animation, what materials to use, what physical principles apply to the medium, those books which are like a recipe book but for art with structured step by step instructions.
This is more like the book you buy if you're training to be the art equivalent of a Mitchelin star chef, which is both a blessing and a curse.
If you expect focused conclusions, you won't find them, it's more a collection of theories and insights designed to get your creative juices flowing in the first place, some of these are quotations culled from other artistic diciplines, magazine cuttings and thought provoking images. The author interjects with his own thoughts at regular intervals, but the presentation is more like a random scrapbook which makes you ask "What do you think about this aesthetic notion?" and "how many different approaches to the problem are there?"
It's categorised into sub-headings such as "style" or "typography" with many other random categories thrown in for good measure.
I found it interesting, occasionally pretentious, often thought-provoking but the focus on the meta-philosophy of everything can become frustrating if you just wanted a simple starting point to get the ball rolling.
If you're new to the medium of design/illustration I'd start with something a little less taxing, as it can be a bit like being a kid in a candy store. If you're naturally unfocused and indecisive like myself it leaves you feeling a little dazed and confused. I looked up typography as someone totally ignorant about typefaces and layout, and there were so many contradictory quotes from graphic designers I didn't know whose opinion to go with.
In general, don't expect one straightforward answer from this book, it's more like having every known theory in the universe thrust under your nose at once and being asked to explore all of them on your own time. If you're simply looking for one technique to get you started, this isn't the book for you!
If you already feel up to the challenge of taking on that amount of theory in one book, then you could do much worse. Maybe more of a book to dip into then to digest in one sitting.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 25 December 2003
I was looking for a book to inspire me as a designer - however this book does not discuss principles of good design or examine the history of design. It does not even showcase the works of designers - not in the way we have come to expect.
What this book does do is offer an insight into many different subjects such as the imagination, creativity, the brain, colour etc,etc... the list seems endless.
Anecdotes, information and pictures inhabit this book in a seemingly organic way. Each page is unique, every page has something to say.
If you a creative and a free thinker you will love this book - it opens doors in your head. It is easy to dip into, and will be an important part of your bookshelf for years as the information it contains is timeless.
I really enjoyed this book, and i love showing it to all my design buddys. We all get stuck in a creative rut and maybe this book can unlock a few ideas for you!