Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Love Kawaii, Selected by Charuca

This is not the kind of book that lends itself to a detailed, in-depth review, but that's just fine: it's about what I need on a night when I want to keep up a string of daily review posts but feel too lethargic for overly energetic thinking and typing. (I was up at 5:15 for the bi-weekly global 8 AM meeting, so it's already been a long day.)

Charuca is a character illustrator and designer from Barcelona; kawaii is a Japanese word for a very Japanese term -- a super-"cute" style of art, all rounded lines, neotenic features, and massively anthropomorphized everything; and I Love Kawaii is a collection of art from kawaii artists from all over the world, each with four to eight pages of their art, contact and website information, and a short descriptive paragraph by Charuca.

No one ever says so explicitly, but kawaii looks like a style driven almost entirely by female artists. (There may be some seminal men lurking in the background, but I hope not; I want the women to have this movement for their own, just because.) It's usually bright, full of saturated colors and crisp vector graphics, though there are some artists here who mix goth or folk art of classic childrens-book illustration styles into their kawaii, which gives I Love Kawaii more variety and visual interest than it otherwise would have.

The artists profiled here work in animation, in licensed-character design, in the production of vinyl figures -- in short, in just about every niche of illustration you can think of other than "fine art" -- since kawaii is a style meant to be produced, either mass or in small batches, and sent out into the world in waves. Their work is lovely and fun and bouncy and energetic and lovely and occasionally (just occasionally!) so sweet that it will rot all of the teeth out of your head in a second.

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