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Artist Gary Taxali talks about his pictures and favorite books

Gary Taxali talks about his favorite books

READERSVOICE.COM: Off the top of your head can you think up some of your favorite books of all time?
GARY TAXALI: My list probably varies, but I would say my number one favorite book, you know, maybe it’s a little bit cliched, but I would have to say it’s Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.
Only because I was reading that book before I could even read words, and um, it was that book that made me want to become an illustrator.
In fact, I’m working on my first kids’ book right now, which I also wrote, and I think that it was his work…Not just the fact that it was a good story, with good pictures, everything, the language, the visual language..You know, it was a thing that just reached me.
I thought, ok, this is what I want to do.
But I would say a book that as an adult I really liked, which I keep reading over and over again, is a book called The Creative Process by a guy named Brewster Ghiselin.
This book is a series of essays written by various geniuses like Picasso and Mozart, Nietzsche and Henry Moore, Kirkegaard, Dostoevsky, talking about the creative process.
It’s fantastic. I think the best essay in there is by Henri Poincare the French mathematician, talking about his creative process.
The guy sounds like a painter. It’s a really good book.

RV: With your children’s book was there a different kind of thought process that went into it, compared with your previous work?
GT: Yeah, absolutely…Basically, I have two jobs. I’m an illustrator and I do fine art shows, a lot of gallery shows.
So I divide my time between the two.
But with personal work, you know, I’m just making pictures, you know. It’s completely visual. There’s actually really no context.
It’s just whatever comes into my head, it just kind of comes out.
The context just kind of happens when you create the work.
With illustration, you’re given other people’s text, and you have to illustrate it.
But this is the first time I’m illustrating my own text…
That in itself is a very different thing in terms of artistic process.
There’s no detachment from the text like there usually is when I’m illustrating.
As illustrators we intellectualise things we really know nothing about…
But when you’re married to the text it becomes very, very personal.
RV: And when will your children’s book be published?
GT: I don’t think it’s going to be out until maybe Spring or Fall of 2006. Only because I haven’t started the illustrations yet. I’m a little bit behind with my other projects. So that’s my 2005 New Year’s resolution. Finish the kids’ book.

RV: And you’ve got a title for it yet?
GT: Yeah, it’s either called This is Silly, or This is Also Silly. I think it’s called This is Silly.

RV: What’s coming up in the near future as far as projects go?
GT: I do have a major thing… I’ve created a little toy company with two other partners. It’s myself, and we have a 3D guy who actually makes the moulds, and we have the money guy. (laughs)

So I’ll be launching the new toy, a doll, in about six weeks (this interview took place in mid-January -ed.).

And we’re waiting to get them back from Hong Kong. We’re working on the packaging right now. We’ve already got a list of a bunch of preorders, so that will be available in the spring.
RV: How many are you going to manufacture?
GT: For this first toy we’re doing an edition of 500.

RV: What was the Quadraphonic Doll?

GT: That’s an existing doll, and with that project what they did was they got different artists to do a mass-production design doll…where they sent blank dolls to, I guess, about 30 artists and we all did like an original painting on the blank doll.
It was like a one of a kind, and that is a travelling exhibition. I think, right now..it was in Hong Kong and I think it’s going to end in Tokyo if it hasn’t already happened.