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The Art of Looking Sideways [Hardcover]

Alan Fletcher
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 49.95
Price: CDN$ 31.31 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Aug. 20 2001

The Art of Looking Sideways is a primer in visual intelligence, an exploration of the workings of the eye, the hand, the brain and the imagination. It is an inexhaustible mine of anecdotes, quotations, images, curious facts and useless information, oddities, serious science, jokes and memories, all concerned with the interplay between the verbal and the visual, and the limitless resources of the human mind. Loosely arranged in 72 chapters, all this material is presented in a wonderfully inventive series of pages that are themselves masterly demonstrations of the expressive use of type, space, color and imagery.

This book does not set out to teach lessons, but it is full of wisdom and insight collected from all over the world. Describing himself as a visual jackdaw, master designer Alan Fletcher has distilled a lifetime of experience and reflection into a brilliantly witty and inimitable exploration of such subjects as perception, color, pattern, proportion, paradox, illusion, language, alphabets, words, letters, ideas, creativity, culture, style, aesthetics and value.

The Art of Looking Sideways is the ultimate guide to visual awareness, a magical compilation that will entertain and inspire all those who enjoy the interplay between word and image, and who relish the odd and the unexpected.

Frequently Bought Together

The Art of Looking Sideways + Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop + Thinking with Type, 2nd revised and expanded edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students
Price For All Three: CDN$ 68.89

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From Amazon

Alan Fletcher's The Art of Looking Sideways is an absolutely extraordinary and inexhaustible "guide to visual awareness", a virtually indescribable concoction of anecdotes, quotes, images and bizarre facts that offers a wonderfully twisted vision of the chaos of modern life. Fletcher is a renowned designer and art director and the joy of The Art of Looking Sideways lies in its beautiful design. Loosely arranged in 72 chapters with titles like "Colour", "Noise", "Chance", "Camouflage" and "Handedness", Fletcher's book, which he describes as "a journey without a destination", is "a collection of shards" that captures the sensory overload of a world that simply contains too much information. In one typical section, entitled "Civilization", the reader encounters six Polish flags designed to represent the world, a photograph of an anthropomorphic hand bag, Buzz Aldrin's bootprint on the moon, drawings of Stone Age pebbles, a painting of "Ireland--as seen from Wales" and a dizzying array of quotations and snippets of information, including the wise words of Marcus Aurelius, Stephen Jay and Gandhi's comment, "Western civilization? I think it would be a good idea". Fletcher's mastery of design mixes type, space, fonts, alphabets, colour and layout combined with a "jackdaw" eye for the strange and profound to produce a stunning book that cannot be read, but only experienced. --Jerry Brotton

From Library Journal

This vast collection of assorted visual and verbal content is loosely strung together by the common thread of whatever captures the attention of celebrated designer Fletcher best known for his founding roles in the English design firm Fletcher Forbes Gill and the internationally recognized design group Pentagram. A table of contents (with headings such as "Learning," "Noise," and "Imagination") provides a loose structure for what is an otherwise unfettered stream-of-consciousness outpouring. In the author's own words, the book is "a journey without a destination." The book is tailor-made for those with short attention spans, since any given thought or narrative rarely runs for more than a spread. A worthy companion to other large, contemporary, designer-orchestrated explorations of visual culture, such as Bruce Mau's Life Style (Phaidon, 2000) or John Maeda's Maeda @ Media (Rizzoli, 2000), this book will delight anyone who enjoys unexpected visual and verbal play, cultural and historical observations and insights, and staggering amounts of trivia and anecdotes. Best suited for larger public libraries or libraries with extensive liberal arts, fine arts, or art history sections. Phil Hamlett, Turner & Associates, San Francisco

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! Dec 21 2003
I came across this book in the local bookstore, randomly finding it while buying a gift certificate for christmas. If you're into artistic expression in any way, buy this book. It's full of delightfully random illustrations, quotes, and wisdom. If you're not the artistic type, I'd suspect you'll find this book a bit tedious or perhaps even pointless. If, however, you are a creatively minded person who enjoys some visual delights (some of the pictures are just amazing to experience) and some mental stimulation, go for it! This would make a great book to pick up and open to anywhere, then see what you find. I've paged through a lot of it, looking at things. I'm now attempting to start from the beginning and read through it. This book is incredible. Worth owning without a doubt.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The moment I saw it, I had to possess it Oct. 16 2003
I found out about this book of all places while channel surfing one gloomy day. A TV show was doing a profile on the author, his creative process and his book. I was hooked. They showed some of its pages and I special ordered it the next day. That was 2 years ago and every time I've picked it up since, it never fails to awe and inspire. I love so many things about it: its simple yet highly styled layout, the hand drawn graphics, the author's graphical experiments, the quotations (there must be at least a thousand) and the combination of humour and thoughtfulness that permiates the pages. To describe it, I would say it's like a box you kept all your old concert stubs, matchbooks and photographs, keepsakes and anecdotes but that have been organized and displayed and "made sense of". And this is exactly what the author did in compliling this book.
You can read it in the traditional front-to-back way, but my favourite way to approach the book is to just open it at random and start reading - then I usually end up flipping around because parts of the text refer to other parts of text in another section - like little hyperlinks that zoom you to some other connected place. The discovery is seemingly never-ending.
So, to you I would say: Treat your brain. Pick up this book and learn what it means to look sideways!
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I had never heard of this book before I saw it and no introduction is better than just getting the huge, heavy thing on your lap and looking through it. As most reviewers of this book have said, it cannot be described, but they have tried. I too can only give you an idea about this book and giving ideas is what this book is about.
One day my friend Martine said that I must see this book and dropped it into my lap, I have not yet give it back. I sat there in my comfy chair and leafed through the many, many pages reading a little here, looking a little there. After a while I realised that this book was an amazing source of information and inspiration and so I started reading from the beginning, taking notes along the way.
Todd Dominey, a new media designer, wrote, "As a designer, I felt more inspired, more aware, more energized after just a handful of pages than I can remember feeling in years of buying design and art related books." As indicated by its title, this book is meant to open your mind, to get you seeing the things you never noticed before, to give you a fresh perspective and a new way of understanding.
On the first real page of the book a quote by Montaigne reads "I quote others only the better to express myself." This book has over a thousand quotes from writers, philosophers, artists and anyone who has ever said anything thoughtful. A quote starts each of the books 72 chapters, each having a loose theme such as 'Imagination', 'Noise', 'Wit' or 'Colour'.
But this is so much more than a book of smart remarks, it is a scrapbook of a lifetime of visual awareness.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, thought provoking, brilliant May 9 2002
By obediah
This book will open your eyes to a world you never knew existed. Superficially it appears to be the Seinfeld of the literary world, that is a book about nothing. The book appears to be a random collection of quotes and anecdotes on seemingly unrelated topics.
I like this book because it covers such a diverse range of topics in an interesting manner. You can open up virtually any page in the book and find something amusing, thought provoking or plain bizarre. As an example did you realise that in actuality the world is a very dull place? There is no such thing as colour or sound. These are simply waves with different wavelengths and frequencies. The sensation of light and sound is simply the brain parsing information in a specific way, probably because this model was conducive to survival in primitive times.
I must admit a lot of the pages in the book were quite beyond me. I didn't understand why they were there at all and in fact I feel that some of the material should be omitted from the book because it has little value. It also became annoying at times because you have to flip the book sideways and upside down due to its unusual layout (no easy feat with such a hefty tome!).
However all in all this book is an excellent read. One of the best books I've read in awhile. Highly recommended if you are interested in exploring the unusual and thinking outside the square.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
amazing book
Published 12 days ago by Ruliapizza
5.0 out of 5 stars be a more interesting person
The Art of Looking Sideways is a gem. Rather it is a bible of gems, notes, quotes and keen perceptions on a wide spectrum of topics relating most frequently to design and... Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2003 by justin
5.0 out of 5 stars What The?
This book found me one day and now has me totally in it's pages.
Every little thing that was ever said and every problem ever created has some form of simplistic answer within... Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2003 by A. J. Cherrington
5.0 out of 5 stars You can't do without this book.
Stop what you're doing. Buy The Art of Looking Sideways right now. Read it, view it, participate in it. It will change the way you see the world.
Published on Jan. 20 2003 by "bibiliophilia"
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary book
This book is a celebration of ideas and thought, and illustrates the power of the human mind to synthesize concepts into reality. Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Alan's Great Big Book Of Visual Acuity.
Look, I'll make this short, if you have anything to do with visual creativity get this book!
In 532 pages Alan Fletcher presents a cornucopia of visual and semantic ideas,... Read more
Published on June 18 2002 by Robin Benson
5.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Looking at The Art of Looking Sideways
It is probably easier to write nebulously about this volume than in very direct and objectively descriptive terms. Read more
Published on May 9 2002 by Iconophoric
4.0 out of 5 stars Seductive...but I'm not sure what I was seduced into.
Difficult to tell you what this book actually says, except that it's author is a genius. Or at least he quotes lots of other people who are. Read more
Published on May 3 2002 by The Honourable Husband
5.0 out of 5 stars The Meaning of Life
Not quite. But a 1000+ page brain dump from a graphic designer.
Browsing through the bookstore in NYC's Grand Central Station the other day, this book caught my eye. Read more
Published on May 3 2002 by Bruce Appelbaum
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