Books that inspire you

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Old 04 April 2005   #1
Books that inspire you

I thought we'd make a thread about inspiring books. Not books about the process of art, if you can help it, but books with pretty pictures - or awesome pictures - or just pictures that you find very inspirational. Would be lovely to get a little explanation why these books in particular are so stirring for you... I might want to pick a few of them up.

I have a little list of some of mine, here --
Layers, Malcolm Venville - it's a photography book, with some of the loveliest photos I've ever seen. I found it quite by chance at a thrift store, there it was on a shelf and I picked it up. Huge, heavy book. The first page I opened it on had a photo of a ballerina with a tattoo, her beauty very unconventional, and I thought - wow, I must have this.

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories, Tim Burton - such dark, wonderful wit and little whimsical stories that have just the right amount of morbidity for me. I squealed when I first opened this little book. Even the format is excellent - it's small and handy, the cover (on mine anyway) feels old though the book is new, and I suspect it's some kind of fabric. A must have.

Romantic Icons, Robert Woof and Stephen Hebron - a collection of portrait paintings of romantic icons. Some stunning, stunning paintings here. I found the book, if I don't remember entirely incorrectly, at Dove Cottage in England after having seen some of the paintings depicted in it.

The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Edward Gorey - "F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leach, G is for George smothered under a rug, H is for Hector done in by a thug." It's an alphabet with dying children. Oh my, that does sound quite morbid, but it's done in such a wonderful way - the pictures are simple and funny and lovely... Gorgey must have been an inspiration to Tim Burton. I wonder what the people of his time thought of him.

I'll add more later.
I can resist everything but temptation.


Painting eyes
Painting hair
Old 04 April 2005   #2
Hey Enayla, potentially a great thread.

I don't get usually inspired by images I see in books, but images I visualize as a result of reading books.

The poetry of Al Sayyab (The greatest Iraqi Poet in modern history) has always inspired me and captivated my whole imagination. In fact I translated some of his work into paintings.

I will try to find a good translation of his poetry and pass it on, in the meantime here is an excerpt:
Drip, drop, the rain
Drip, drop, the rain
Do you know what sorrow the rain can inspire?

Do you know how gutters weep when it pours down?

Do you know how lost a solitary person feels in the rain?
Endless, like spilt blood, like hungry people, like love,
Like children, like the dead, endless the rain.
Your two eyes take me wandering with the rain,

Old 04 April 2005   #3
Hmmm... books that inspire or excite you creatively! Fab idea Linda... but golly where to stop! Well, if you like 'Melancholy Death...' check out 'The Boy who Kicked Pigs' by Tom Baker... erstwhile DrWho himself. A dark little tale much in the style of Burton.

Anything by Charles Addams, of the Addams family and cartoonist for The New Yorker. I recently read the Philip Pullman trilogy, 'His Dark Materials', and that is a real treat visually and creatively for the imagination. Compilations of art by people like Mark Ryden, Alma Tadema, William Waterhouse, Gabriel Rossetti... nearly all the Pre-Raphaelites. The Star Wars concept art books are fab, particuarly for McCaigs costume design.

Edward Gorey's fantastic, and there is a lineage with him including Edward Lear and Hilaire Belloc, and even Spike Milligan! And check out Gerard Hoffnung the humourist and cartoonist. John R. Neills illustrations for the original 'Oz' books are wonderful! Edwardian and kind of Pre-Raphaelite, and really sensitivly drawn. If McCaig wasn't inspired by 'Ozma of Oz' for some of Padme's clothes then he should have been! And along the same path 'Little Nemo' by Windsor McKay has a dreamlike quality....

Moebius's 'The Airtight Garage' is full of wonderful imagery that sure gets me inspired, in fact anything by him. He manages to create bizarre psychedelic worlds that somehow have a believability, and once again sensitively drawn...

ANYTHING illustrated and written by Tove Jansson, of the Moomins fame. Beautifully drawn stories that I grew up with... 'Marianne Dreams' by Catherine Storr, 'The Dark is Rising' by Susan Cooper Aaargh, I can't stop!

'Tha Dark Summer' by Bob Carlos Clarke is a collection of photographs with lots of shiny stuff in it! And 'The Arabian Nights' has always been a huge facination for me...

These are the one's I enjoy that spring to mind for now anyway...
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Rosie Poe

Old 04 April 2005   #4
Peter Pan, with illustrations by Anne Greem Johnston (I hope I spelled her name right..) It's my favorite childhood book, and my favorite story of all the time (along with Pippi Longstockings.. I have a tendency to like stories that tell you how important it is to keep a child in you forever). The book illustrations in the book are so beautiful that I often go back and flip through the pages and just stare at drawings for hours.. such a simple style, yet so beautiful.

But books that inspire me the most are those without illustrations - it's so much easier to imagine things yourself than to watch someone else's vision, no matter how beautiful it is.
Old 04 April 2005   #5
  • Cinefex
  • Harry Potter books
  • Calvin and Hobbes
  • Porno magazines
  • Deranged (Albert Fish story)
...To name a few...

Last edited by vfx fan : 04 April 2005 at 12:19 AM.
Old 04 April 2005   #6
Yet another great thread! Let me see.....hmmm....

Grimm's Fairy Tales
Through the Looking Glass
The CHronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever
anything by: Michael Moorcock,Tolkein, Piers ANthony

There's so many sources to get the grey matter going. When I've decided what type of work I want to do, I usually start with my existing collection of literature to get going, then switch over to reference material from my collections or from the web (although the web can easily distrat me from the task), and then I start to gather visual info on my computer to refer to from time to time as guidance, inspiration, etc.
~ Where science and technology fail, art survives ~
Old 04 April 2005   #7
  • Tête à Tête of HEnri cartier Bresson Born in Chanteloup, Cartier-Bresson started painting in 1923 and began to photograph in 1931, met Tériade, the editor of Verve magazine and frequented members of the French surrealist movement. After a trip to the Ivory Coast he discovered the Leica, since then his camera of choice. He pursued his photographic career in Eastern Europe and Mexico, later on making films with Jean Renoir, Jacques Becker and André Zvoboda and a documentary on Republican Spain (1937).
popol va au cirque ....
Old 04 April 2005   #8
vfx fan, how inspiring do you find Mein Kampf?
Shaders are used by shady people

Last edited by Marc-OlivierBouchard : 04 April 2005 at 07:39 PM.
Old 04 April 2005   #9
An Ominpresence - Yoshitishi ABe. This is the art book for Serial Experiments: Lain, IMO, one of the best anime series ever. ABe is one of the few anime artists who really makes me feel something about his characters, there may be better artists and better animators but I really connect with his characters. I have an artbook for Neia_7 too.

The Melancholy Death of Oysterboy is great as is The Nightmare Before Christmas, I have books for both and definitely find Burton's work inspiring. To me, his art work looks just as if it had crawled out of a childs mind and was refined by someone more skilled. when I look at Burton's stuff it totally reminds me of the joy of being a child and sometimes how alienated one felt.

Coraline - Neil Gaimen. The artwork in this book is sparse (at least in the one that I bought) but it's intriguing. The artist has that disturbed child-like inspiration that burton has but it would seem a little more intensified. This book is apparently being brought to life in stop motion animation by Henry Selick.

Other than that, sadly... I don't read much because of a very very short attention span.
Old 04 April 2005   #10
Originally Posted by popol:
  • MIRAGE from The amazing Boris Vallejo

I have an old edition of that book from some time in the 80's when I use to read Heavy Metal. It has a different cover. I was quite surprised when I saw it in a local bookstore.

Last edited by gruvsyco : 04 April 2005 at 07:51 PM.
Old 04 April 2005   #11
Quote: Originally Posted by gruvsyco
I have an old edition of that book from some time in the 80's when I use to read Heavy Metal. It has a different cover. I was quite surprised when I saw it in a local bookstore.

It's a white cover with a "woman buterfly" ?
I have this one i've got this old edition too (marvelous book)

Quote: vfx fan, how inspiring do you find Mein Kampf?

man, i really don't whant to know !! (and it's not the good place to discuss about that)
popol va au cirque ....
Old 04 April 2005   #12
Such a lot of wonderful book suggestions here. I'll have to do an Amazon run soon, order some nice material to gawk at late at night.

I find that thrift stores are, for me, the best of places to find awesome books that I'd never have laid eyes on otherwise. I will never forgive myself for not having the money when they sold this old edition with poetry by Coleridge. Ah well. What's done is done.

Anyway, last time I was there, I found this thin little book pushed in between some other volumes, and I pulled it out. It was wrapped in really thin, transparent paper and had a picture of a wild looking lady with red hair on the cover - one budding rose stuffed into her neckline. I just loved the feel of it in my hands. I leafed through it, and it had lovely lithographs by this French artist - it's all in French so I can't understand a word of it, but it's so pretty! It's called Les Lithographies de Toulouse-Lautrec, and it's apparently from 1952. Very brittle and very pretty. This is the artist if anyone's curious - I've been trying to find the cover picture somewhere online but I can't seem to locate it. Anyway. I consider this my 'find' of the year. The book is gorgeous.

Aha!! I found the picture I was looking for! !! Isn't it awesome?

Also, I'd like to mention Elektra and Wolverine by Greg Rucka and Yoshitaka Amano. Seriously excellent work - combining one of my favourite characters ever (actually, two of them - I love Elektra as well) with an extremely talented artist. Very nice on the eyes and mind.

The Flight of Dragons, Peter Dickinson and Wayne Anderson -- a wonderfully illustrated and written book that 'assumes' that dragons actually exist. It sounds dorky, perhaps, but it's so quirky and sweet and the art style is unique and quite enchanting.

Hm, that's it for now

I can resist everything but temptation.


Painting eyes
Painting hair

Last edited by Enayla : 04 April 2005 at 08:29 PM.
Old 04 April 2005   #13
Could you guys post links to something informative/representative to those books you mention. I get real curious but am a poor student.

vfx fan, I wonder how you'd feel at the other side of the barrel? I hope you're not in a position of even moderate responsibility or we'll never have decent vfx on the planet, only debree and cg "mishaps".



Joooy to the world

Joooy to the wohorld

joy to all the fishes in the deepest sea, joy to you and me...

tahnahnahnahnah....[goto 10]

a lil in-scene-u-and-dow...

I could go on like this for hours man...

edit: Enayla, what is a thrift store. I've never heard of that! I hope I cn come up with some books for you btw. But it seems not much has had a lasting impression on me.
modelling practice #1

Last edited by jmBoekestein : 04 April 2005 at 09:01 PM.
Old 04 April 2005   #14
Originally Posted by popol: It's a white cover with a "woman buterfly" ?
I have this one i've got this old edition too (marvelous book)

I think it might be this one. I'd have to go dig it out of storage to be sure. To be honest, I haven't really been "inspired" by Boris Vallejo since I exited puberty. While there's no denying the talent... all his characters look about the same to me. Regardless, I think I bought every book I could find of his at the time and they are stashed away in storage somewhere.
Old 04 April 2005   #15
I have a book with Auguste Renoir's paintings, and is so inspiring!. Plus, I have another one, "Skywatching" by David H. Levy, is an astronomy book, but have gorgeous pics with constellations, galaxies, old paintings, etc, there you have everything and I love it. And I have a collection of art and photography magazines, edited by Mercedes-Benz like a year ago here in México (a gift, I wish to have a MB XD) and is pretty inspiring too.

And if we talk about literature, well, Anne Rice's, Tolkien's (LOTR art books are my favs too), Gabriel García Marquez and his magic realism, egyptian, mayan and aztec mythologic dictionaries are my principal source when I need inspiration.
In my veins I´ve felt the mystery of corridors of time...

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