Monday, November 26, 2012

Dinosaur Art: The World's Greatest Paleoart

Having finally gotten a copy of Dinosaur Art: The World's Greatest Paleoart, I can at last add my review to the pile of them already out there. Given what others have said about the book already, I'm not sure this will be overly original, but I'll give it a go anyways. 
The book in question
You can order it here

In a nutshell if you are into Palaeoart (or pretty nature pictures) buy this book! It is packed with tons of great art!

While there have been some slight divisions among other reviewers about the text in Dinosaur Art elsewhere, I have been quite enjoying the interview format of the book. Speaking as an aspiring palaeo-artist myself, I have found the majority of the interviews have something of interest to me. If you aren't as captivated by the craft of making palaeo-art, this book's text probably won't be as great a draw for you.

If you are interested in what many of the biggest names in palaeo-art think about their process and the genre as a whole, again buy the book :P

By Doug Henderson
This and other art can be found in Dinosaur Art: The World's Greatest Paleoart
The book is very general in its content, and is not aspiring to be a definative volume. So if you are seeking some sort of be all and end all book on palaeo-art this is not for you. 

The book is basically ten seperate artist profiles with a couple introduction chapters leading into them. The intros and surrounding chapters are fairly forgettable, and in particular the history of palaeo-art chapter is incredibly basic and generic, and won't offer anything new to anyone versed in the art-form. Mind you these are not the emphasis of the book, and they do not actually detract from the book at all unless you are after a reference.

An example page from Dinosaur Art: The World's Greatest Paleoart
The artist profiles contain a series of interview questions and answers strewn throughout a huge amount of the artists work. These interviews do not really follow a specific format, and organically flow from each artist's answers. Aspiring palaeo-artists will no doubt find lots of interest in these interviews.

All the involved artists discuss things from their research methods, career history, philosophy, to artistic methods, career advice, and what they see the future of palaeo-art being.

By Luis Rey
This and other art can be found in Dinosaur Art: The World's Greatest Paleoart
I've personally found the Gregory Paul, John Conway, Julius Csotonyi, and Luis Rey interviews all useful and/or inspiring. In particular the Luis Rey one should be required reading for any hopeful palaeo-artist, whether you like his art or not. His take on how to look at one's own art compared to that by others is a must read.

By Todd Marshal
This and other art can be found in Dinosaur Art: The World's Greatest Paleoart

My only big beef with the book are the implications made by the title of the book. "Dinosaur Art: The World's Greatest Paleoart" to me should have two things 1. It will be all of the greatest palaeoart out there (which it isn't), and 2. all the content within it will be of Dinosaurs or Dino related (which it isn't).
Now I'm aware this title was picked to try and better sell the book, but it leaves a bad after taste to jump into this book with those implied expectations to find it is just false advertising.

By John Conway 
This and other art can be found in Dinosaur Art: The World's Greatest Paleoart

So to be clear is book does not have art by every great palaeo-artist, present or past. It does have a great show case of ten of the biggest names in modern palaeo-art. Now as the book's editor Steve White explains in his interview at Love in the time of Chasmosaurus, many other big names in the industry were approached and declined to be included for various reasons. That is fine, and I perfectly understand. I just wish the title didn't imply they would be in there. I feel there is a lot more "finest" artwork out there not in this tomb.

As for the non-Dinosaur art in the book, most of it I love, but there is a whole chapter devoted to 
Mauricio Anton's (very lovely) prehistoric mammals that seem really out of place to me in a "Dinosaur Art" book. Now admittedly all the Pterosaurs, Marine Reptiles etc that I love shouldn't be in there either, but the mammals really jar with the title that much more. Something more like Prehistoric Art would have been appropriate.

By John Sibbick
This and other art can be found in Dinosaur Art: The World's Greatest Paleoart
My last minor problem with the book is the rather simple history of palaeo-art section. I get that this could be a whole book, but I would have loved to see more detail put into the post dino-renaissance era of art, in particular how the book's included artists all intertwined in this history.

By Raul Martin
This and other art can be found in Dinosaur Art: The World's Greatest Paleoart
With that all said I still think is is a fantastic book. The art takes center stage, with the interviews being a nice bonus if you're interested in what these 10 artists have to say. The making of the art examples are quite interesting and insightful.

Anyone who regularly follows ART Evolved will no doubt love this book!