Flights of fa ncy Artist and illustration professor Bill Carman takes you on a journey of texture, mystery and unfinished narrative
Imagery from the Bird’s Home: The Art of Bill Carman; Star Wars The Force Awakens: Incredible Cross-Sections; Tom Adams Uncovered: The Art of Agatha Christie and Beyond.
Author Bill Carman Publisher Flesk Price £27 Web www.fleskpublications.com Available Now
Textured, innocent, child-like, but with slyly unsettling undertones, Bill Carman’s artwork is nothing if not distinctive. With influences ranging from fairytales to surrealism to steampunk, the American artist entices you with both the power of his imagination and the magnificence of his execution.
Bill spent years working as a designer, illustrator and art director at universities, ad agencies, publishers, and large corporations. Yet it’s only now that he’s finally released a highquality compendium of his best work. And what a collection it is.
A gaggle of incredible characters, from haughty, besuited cats to gasmask-donning ghouls, jostle for space in bizarre scene after bizarre scene. The artist makes great use of juxtaposition, placing together seemingly random things that nonetheless add up to a weirdly engaging whole.
Bill paints mainly in acrylics, on a variety of surfaces including panel, wood and copper, along with some mixed-media work. But while his technique soon becomes familiar, the subject matter never cease to surprise.
In Dehydration, a giant squid wrestles with a gnarled and twisted tree that’s straight out of a ghost story. In Alice’s Tears – Bill’s depiction of the Wonderland character’s lachrymose lake – he summons forth an original take on a familiar tale. In his Freudusa, there’s a disturbing mash-up between Sigmund Freud and Medusa that may well keep you awake at night.
As such examples suggest, Bill’s work is not the fantasy art ImagineFX usually deals with: there’s nothing ‘genre’ about this work. But there are certainly fantastical elements to his scenes, featuring anthropomorphised animals and oddball humans in situations that are wide open for us to interpret. And to take in the carefully considered, masterfully crafted detail of each painting is a full meal.
As well as completed works – including paintings for commissions, galleries and personal work, there are whimsical drawings, doodles and preparatory sketches dotted throughout. While there’s little in the way of textual exposition, the adventure of the imagination this delightfully unusual book will take you on more than makes up for that.
Even Bill’s sketches and loose drawings manage to intrigue the viewer.
In Shared Eyewear, Bill Carman demonstrates his skill in bringing disparate elements together.