Off-Ramp host John Rabe talks with animation expert Charles Solomon and Disney artist Paul Felix (art director, "Winnie the Pooh" and "Bolt") about SketchTravel, a new book of sketches by famous artists. The book was the brainchild of Japanese artist Daisuke "Dice" Tsutsumi and illustrator Gerald Guerlais, and proceeds benefit Room to Read's efforts to build libraries and improve literacy in Southeast Asia.
From Charles Solomon's introduction to SketchTravel:
The original SketchTravel Book was passed from hand to hand like an Olympic torch in an artistic relay of almost 75,000 miles. The results represent the personal visions of 70 exceptional illustrators, animators and comic book artists from North and South America, Europe and Asia.
Guerlais got the idea that would grow into the SketchTravel project: "We were coming back from a bookstore on the bus, and Dice was drawing in his sketchbook, which he did constantly. I said to him, 'Imagine how cool sharing the same sketchbook among all of us would be!'
Tsutsumi says, "Passing sketchbooks has been done many times--that's not new. But as we developed the idea, we realized it's not the drawings that would make this book special, it's the connections between the artists. That's why we decided on the hand-delivery rule between participating artists."
Guerlais explains, "By the end of that day we had a list--and one that wasn't very different from the final list. The process was very subjective: we invited artists we admire. Not every artist they invited agreed to participate. Some couldn't fit the additional work into already overcrowded schedules; others were too difficult to reach--or too modest to accept.
The SketchTravel Book reflects the diversity of contemporary graphic art. Erik Tiemens evokes the look of 17th century Dutch landscape in his brooding landscape, while Dominique Bertail gives new meaning to the term "water polo" in a sunlit scene that recalls David Hockney's Southern California landscapes. M.C. Escher might envy the interlocking patterns of the crocodiles in Nicolas Marlet's sketch, while Juanjo Guardino pays homage to some of his favorite cartoon characters. Husband-and-wife team Sylvain Marc and Veronique Joffre share their visions through a small window cut into the page they share.
Although the artists who participated in the SketchTravel Project represent the pinnacle of their professions, no one took any money for their work. The book was conceived as a benefit, and the recipient the artists chose is Room to Read.
Charles Solomon's latest book is The Toy Story Films: An Animated Journey.