16 October 2013

Concept art books of films

I have been looking through a fair number of conceptual art books of movies. I have read 'The Art of Robots', 'The Art of The Incredibles' and much more. When a book becomes a self-indulgent and self-congratulatory volume, it makes for tedious reading. It make one realise that such volumes are often for the unthinking believers, the sheep-like worshippers who lap up every word said.

The self-reverential tone of these 'art of' volumes for movies, especially animated ones are often shameless in that regard, and in my opinion, they do a disservice to its readers with the lax editing and often not carefully selected content.

When such a volume is conceived, the writer could consider these points:

1. What is the intended audience? Fanboys? Artists? Potential artists? Perhaps, a combination of all of them?

2. Why is this volume written? Is it intended to give people of a glimpse of the process? Is it to preserve the conceptual aspects for posterity? Is it to satisfy the fans of the movie for more material? Is it to make money and promote the upcoming movie? Is it a combination of all the factors? Perhaps a balance should be struck?

There are many considerations and none of them are wrong. For me, I know I like initial conceptual sketches, comparisons to the final renderings, and good art that inspires me. What I dislike would be the self-congratulatory tones often found in the writing of the volumes, how great this person is, how great that other person is. I don't need to know that, the work will show. Likewise, I don't need a volume full of screen captures and stills from the movie. I can watch the movie for that.

These volumes are uneven, some are great, while others abysmal. I buy them selectively and for the others, I borrow them from the library.

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