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Interview

Amber Albrecht p2

More reading suggestions from Canadian print-maker and illustrator Amber Albrecht...

READERSVOICE.COM: What were the interesting books you said you were in the middle of reading?

AMBER ALBRECHT: I’ve been trying to get further into the magical realism category, and making sure to read a lot of the obvious titles that I’ve not previously read. I’m currently reading The Obscene Bird of Night, by the Chilean Jose Donoso and Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits. After I finish these I have The Famished Road by Ben Okri and Men of Maize by Miguel Angel Asturias to read (these are just what I have out of the library right now).
I just finally finished reading The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano and the second Berlin book by Jason Lutes.
I’ve also been reading a book about Outsider Art:Vernacular Visionaries: International Outsider Art and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers.

RV: Can you name some of the most interesting books you’ve come across with printed illustrations in them, like medieval manuscripts, or maybe old books illustrated by Gustav Dore, or those Victorian novels or other books with the great printed illustrations, or old magazine advertisements, or artists’ books or anything else?

AA: I’m a big fan of Albertus Seba’s Cabinet of Natural Curiosities which I purchased a couple years ago when a certain chain bookstore was selling it so affordably. It’s a huge tome of a book of large plate illustrations of flora and fauna.
Ernst Haeckel’s Art Forms in Nature is a similar book that is great for being inspired by the beautiful and complex formations of the micro and macro in nature.
The Night Life of Trees is a beautiful affordable limited edition silkscreened book issued by Tara Publishing and in Montreal. It’s available at the Drawn & Quarterly bookstore.
Tara Publishing also has some really nice children’s books that I can’t seem to justify buying for myself, also available at D&Q. I read an article about them recently and here’s a quote about the people in the region in which the Night Life of Trees’ artists
came from: “We noticed there was a tree in every story they told – ask
them to draw a person, they draw a person under a tree. Ask them for a river, they draw a river running past a tree. Ask them for a bird, and it’s a bird sitting in a tree.”
Beardsley’s Illustrations for Le Morte D’Arthur was another beautiful book that I had growing up that had a big effect on me. It seemed to fit right in with all of the other books that we had about ladies and knights.
I was also obsessed with Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee when I was a child and a teenager. I had a lot of other large picture books about dragons and unicorns and fairies that I won’t get into.
I recently found a second-hand copy of Bossert’s Folk Art of Europe which has many excellent little samples European folk art.
I’ve borrowed and forgotten so many excellent sources for imagery out of the library over the years. Lately I’ve been using tons of books on lace from the library to draw from.
On the Internet: BibliOdyssey (http://bibliodyssey.blogspot.com/) is my obvious favorite source for unusual and older digital images from books from around the world. I also have used dozens and dozens of National Geographics and fashion magazines for inspiration over the years.

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-Copyright Simon Sandall.

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