The beauty of the best art books is that you get a snapshot of an artist’s career (or in some cases a snapshot of a phase of their career) all in one book. From cover to cover you can better understand the artist and how they changed over time. I take a look at an art book out this week focused on Yoshitaka Amano, but is it worth your dime?
Yoshitaka Amano Illustrations (Viz Media)
So what’s it about? The Viz summary reads:
Since beginning his career at age fifteen with the legendary animation studio Tatsunoko Production, Yoshitaka Amano has become one of the most acclaimed artists and illustrators at work today. Displaying a rare range, his oeuvre encompasses everything from minutely observed still-life sketches to full-color paintings on an epic scale, from children’s storybooks to dark adult fantasy, from theatrical productions to video games to sculpture to commercial design. All Ages.
Why does this book matter?
Without the artistic mind of Amano we wouldn’t have Final Fantasy, Gatchaman, Vampire Hunter D, or Speed Racer. At the very least we wouldn’t have the very distinctive images that we relate to those series. ‘Nuff said?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Yoshitaka Amano Illustrations is an art book that’s made from nice materials — with a soft slipcover and high production glossy pages. It’s not oversized or coffee table sized and will easily fit on a bookshelf. The book contains simple sketches, paintings, and even some of his fine art sculptures. This certainly isn’t the first art book to focus on Amano, but it certainly captures a wider ranger of his work than most since many of the previous art books focus on one subject he worked on.
This book is made up of 15 chapters, each with some form of Amano speaking on the subject of the chapter. While not quite as extensive as some of his other art books, Amano delivers just enough detail to help you relate to the work — like how his first illustrations for Final Fantasy were way more detailed and conceptional since the game characters were going to end up being pixelated and not finely rendered. Or in the chapter about his work on novel covers how he had to think about where the title would go while designing the art.
One of my favorites from this book from the world of Final Fantasy.
While commentary on every piece would be a fantastic element, it’s not necessarily needed here since there’s a robust interview with Amano and graphic artist Akira Uno. They discuss their careers, specific ways they approach different mediums, where they find inspiration and many more topics. The interview runs quite a few pages and serves to capture Amano’s opinion on his work and art in general. With another graphic artist involved it actually helps them speak on multiple topics in a more in depth way. Later on Amano is interviewed about his past and future which further sheds light on the man.
Beyond these interviews and multiple chapters showcasing his art there’s also a 6 page section that shows you how Amano draws with snapshots of his progress. This section not only details the brushes he uses, but also goes through how he uses paint and pens. In these 6 pages you get a firsthand look of how Amano draws 5 different images which all vary due to technique or style.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Call me a glutton, but I’d have loved to get commentary on every single image in the book. Given how much Amano speaks in this volume though you won’t feel like they spared any expense in involving the creator in this book.
i want to own one of these fine art pieces.
Is It Good?
If you’re a fan of Yoshitaka Amano this is a must buy, but fans of Final Fantasy or art in general should pick this up as well; you’re bound to learn something, but also bound to enjoy the varied and exquisite art within.