Nov 14, 2011

REVIEW| I Love Kawaii, Charuca, Harper Design, 2011

 I Love Kawaii, Charuca, Harper Design, 2011

Kawaii is the Japanese word for cute or adorable.  Which is the term used to describe a contemporary art trend that is sugary sweet. Charuca says:
Kawaii can also apply to anything that appears childish, both in terms of an object's graphic simplicity - geometrical and curved shapes and bright colors - and the humorous and/or positive message it conveys.  Another feature of kawaii is that everything, be it object or animal, is humanized. A kawaii character usually has a head the same size as the rest of the body, sometimes even larger.  Think of the world famous Japanese icon Hello Kitty - the perfect global example of kawaii.

Charuca, a kawaii artist from Barcelona, complied all her favorite kawaii artists into one delicious little book.  I love the format of this book.  The artists are listed alphabetically in the book and the contents lists shows on what page to find them.  The book is full of colorful, adorable images. Since she is already on board the kawaii candy train and almost completely obsessed, she doesn't waste any space trying to convince you why the art is so lovable.  Instead she distills the brief artists’ bios down to the most important information:  the artist's name, where they are from, what kind of work they create, what their work is used for, their website and email address.

Lilidoll, Mina, 2008

I was delighted to discover how many kawaii artists aren't from Japan, like french artist Lilidoll.  Her work is used in advertising, children's books, T-shirts and toys. Although she doesn't say much, Charuca does say this about Lilidoll:

Lilidoll characters appear innocent at first glance, but anyone who takes a little time to delve inside their world will discover that there is a dark power behind these stubborn, retro-like creatures.  I just love the Lilidoll figures; not only is Lilidoll's attention to detail evident, but so is the care she takes to create them.
FRIENDSWITHYOU, Wish Come True, Toy Collection
I was intrigued by the fact that there are collaboratives in the kawaii art scene, like Miami based, FWY, FRIENDSWITHYOU, who promote magic, luck and friendship via installations, toys and advertising.  Charuca seems to stick with the same kinds of flat graphic images throughout the book to represent each artists work and sprinkles in a few toys, which is a bit of a letdown in the case of FWY.  When I went to their website I was blown away by the scale of some their installations.  Rainbow City an interactive public art installation in New York City looks like a life size candy land.  Also I was impressed with the sophistication of pieces on FWY’s website compared to the images Charuca chose.

Devilrobots, Devilrobots All Stars, 2007

Of course Japanese artists are also included in I Love Kawaii. Devilrobots, a studio in Tokyo
Specializes in the creation of graphics, characters, illustrations, animation, Web sites, and music,

According to Charuca. Overall, I am satisfied with my purchase. Even though Charuca presents a limited representation of style and she writes a sappy syrupy bio on each artist and she never mentions how the work is created, I thoroughly enjoyed the fully colored and bright images and was introduced to some new artists. Some of my favorites were:

Jill Ewing


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