A mechanical gecko,
a garden atop a traveling snail’s shell,
an armored jet-propelled ancient fish…
Imaginary beings are at the heart of Shaun Tan’s most beloved books: The Arrival, Tales from Outer Suburbia, The Lost Thing (also made into an award-winning short film – trailer here).
Collected in this large and beautiful book are 25 years of the Australian artist’s paintings and drawings from those books, as well as many standalone works.
“The first thing I remember drawing was a creature… and not much has changed since.” (page 7)
Tan writes intriguing commentary about influences on his style and subject matter – old monster movies, Aboriginal stories, birds in his family’s neighborhood – and how his imagination reinterpreted them as he told stories through images.
Enjoy these large-scale pictures of mechanico-animal beings, humans living alongside unusual beasties, and transformational situations, then flip to the back and read Tan’s notes about how each creature was made.
Includes this set of creature Emoticons, 2016, pencil on paper, digitally composited, originally published in The Stick and Der Spiegel, as shown on Tan’s website.
What creature from your own imagination would you like to meet?
Book info: Creature: Paintings, Drawings, and Reflections / Shaun Tan. Levine Querido, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher; Emoticons illustration from https://www.shauntan.net/creature-book-1.