Teal Triggs, Associate Dean at the Royal College of Art, has teamed up with illustrator Daniel Frost to create a charming new children’s book which offers an illustrated introduction to art and design.
The School of Art is published by Wide Eyed Editions and includes 40 lessons introducing readers to basic principles in art and design, accompanied by practical activities and colourful illustrations.
Concepts are explained by five professors: a professor of ideas; one of form; one of senses; another of making and a professor of the planet, and the book begins with an explanation of why art and design is important and how it can improve our lives.
It then presents a series of basic lessons in drawing lines, curves, surfaces and 3D objects, before moving on to colour, patterns, shading and texture. Each ‘lesson’ begins with an explanation of the concept being introduced, before setting a practical task.
Readers are also introduced to key principles from grids to composition, perspectives, proportion, balance and hierarchy. These are explained in simple terms using anecdotes and dialogue between the professors, making each lesson accurate yet easy to comprehend.
Other sections include a look at how design thinking can be applied to different mediums, including maps, posters and infographics, and a lesson on the importance of experimenting with new ideas and materials. The book ends with a note on aesthetics, explaining that while our response to art and design is subjective and often shaped by our backgrounds and training, we can make more informed judgments with a basic knowledge of form and composition.
Triggs was asked to write the book by Wide Eyed Editions editor Jenny Broom and says making it was a collaborative process. “I came up with the five professors and their studios, Daniel helped to realise these characters through his evocative drawings, and Jenny helped to contribute to the overall shape of the project,” she explains.
“I was hesitant when Jenny first approached me to be involved when my own work is primarily as an academic writer, with my teaching firmly positioned in higher education, [but] I wanted to write this book as it encouraged me to communicate with a new audience of youngsters, and to reflect and look differently at my own writing practice,” she adds. “Equally, I knew I had something to say about the importance of art schools in fostering design thinking, creative practice and innovation. There is a long tradition of graphic designers writing and designing kid’s books – for example, Ann and Paul Rand, Leo Leonni, Bruno Munari, Paula Scher – and I have long admired their work.”
It’s a charming publication, delivering some important creative lessons in a fun, engaging way, and Frost’s cheerful and imaginative illustrations help bring each section to life. Triggs says she hopes the book will entertain readers, as well as giving them a basic understanding of key creative concepts.
“For me, this book is about showing the importance of art school and the ways in which art and design can make a difference in our lives and those of others,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what age you are for that message to be relevant.”
The book is the latest in a series of great titles from Wide Eyed, which recently released The Wonder Garden, a tour through wild habitats illustrated by Kristjana Williams and The 50 States, an illustrated guide to the US filled with colourful maps.
It’s also one of a number of recent books from designers and illustrators which offer an inspiring insight into art and creativity for children, from Go! A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design, published in 2013, to Marion Deuchars’ brilliant Let’s Make Great Art series for Laurence King. The School of Art is a pleasure to read, and a useful resource for any aspiring artist.
The School of Art is published by Wide Eyed Editions and costs £14.99