Books On The Lives Of Artists, The Sounds Of Fonts & The Colours Of Words

Read This is a Scout column that details book selections by authorities, luminaries, institutions, and locals that share deep affections for the written word. This week, Carly Diab, Natalie Craig, Kendra Reynolds and Cybele Creery – all of Emily Carr University Library – put together this selection of four fascinating books on artistic processes.

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Instant Light

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Tarkovsky Polaroids. Edited by Giovanni Chiaramonte and Andrey A. Tarkovsky; foreword by Tonino Guerra. London: Thames & Hudson, 2004. | Chosen and reviewed by Carly Diab

This collection of dreamy, mystical polaroid photographs by filmmaker Andrey Tarkovsky shows snapshots of his country home outside Moscow and his travels through Italy. Tarkovsky’s use of light and mist in the photographs denote a sense of fleeting time – meaningful moments that could never occur in the same way again – but have nevertheless been captured and preserved. Many of the photos are accompanied by extracts from Tarkovsky’s books, Sculpting in Time and Time Within Time: The Diaries 1970, 1986, transforming his writings on art and life into short, poetic, standalone verses. This book is recommended for anyone who enjoyed Tarkovsky’s films and would like a personal glimpse into his day to day life.

AlphaBet in Color

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by Jean Holabird. Corte Madera, CA : Gingko Press, 2005. | Chosen and reviewed by Natalie Craig

Aside from a successful career as a writer, Vladimir Nabokov was fluent in Russian, English, and French; a practicing lepidopterist; and was even invited to compose chess problems for the US national team. He also happened to have a condition known as synesthesia. He describes the sensation as “colored hearing” because the act of pronouncing a letter and visualizing its form generates a color in his mind. In ‘AlphaBet in Color,’ Jean Holabird interprets Nabokov’s alphabet into a series of playful watercolor panels. Her illustrations include passages from his memoir, ‘Speak, Memory,’ and, with an eye for color and a careful hand she manages to capture the subtleties of “alder-leaf F” and “the unripe apple of P.”

Typo Lyrics – The Sound of Fonts

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edited by Slanted | Chosen and reviewed by Cybèle Creery

What does music look like? And what happens if you invite graphic designers to use word art to describe their favourite songs? German magazine Slanted, a print and online magazine about typography, featured a column called “Typo Lyrics” to examine this idea.

This volume, published in 2010, brings together 170 examples created by graphic designers and type designers from various parts of the world, primarily Europe. Originally published in German, the word “typo” is short for typography or font, rather than the expected “error”.

Featuring interviews with 4 contributors, and a broad selection of both musical genres and font designs, this collection ranges from unexpectedly gorgeous to classic to just plain “meh”. Printed on eye-catching mulitcolured paper, this collection definitely warrants more than one look.

M Train

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by Patti Smith. New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. | Chosen and reviewed by Kendra Reynolds.

Patti Smith, who has been dubbed the “poet laureate of punk”, gives readers a snapshot of her life and artistic processes in her latest, deeply honest memoir. Told via a series of memories, Smith’s book explores solitude, the importance of routine, and how physical space can impact artistic creation. Peppered with photographs taken by Smith, this book includes memories of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith, and showcases her love of cafés, coffee, and crime TV shows. This book is a great choice for those experiencing writer’s block, as Smith discusses her own struggles with writing.

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