He who knows how to appreciate colour relationships, the influence of one colour on another, their contrasts and dissonances, is promised an infinitely diverse imagery.
- Sonia Delaunay
Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.
- Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Shaun Tan

Posted by Charley Parker at 9:25 am

Shaun TanShaun Tan is an Australian artist who creates and illustrates “picture books“, which in his case usually means wonderfully bizarre and imaginative flights of fancy that look, at least at first, like somewhat dark children’s fantasy, but are often aimed at both younger and older readers.

He sometimes works with a writer, as in the award winning The Rabbits (image at left, bottom), written by John Marsden, and sometimes writes the stories himself, as in The Lost Thing (image at left, top), which is also a theatre production and in development as a short animated film (more information here).

Tan starts his paintings with thin layers of acrylic over white lines on a dark background, working from dark to light and continuing with oil for the final rendering. He also works in other media, including sctatchboard, pen and ink , pastel crayons, gouache and watercolor, collage, assemblage and digital media.

You can see the multi-media and assemblage techniques in many of his illustrations which employ a stratified and multi-planed approach, with areas broken into smaller images within a larger whole, unified by textures and patterns playing across their surface.

Tan also mixes design elements with more painterly areas, and also works in a more straightforward painterly approach at times, creating a fascinatingly varied array of work.

Tan’s books have been translated into multiple languages and have received book awards in several countries. Tan is also involved in other interesting projects, including murals, theatre productions and a children’s “Art Trail”.

Some of his books, like The Red Tree (image at left, middle), feature experimental narratives, or absence thereof, leaving the reader to wander amid the images and form their own narrative, almost like a Surrealist collage-novel.

Link and suggestion courtesy of Jesper Svedberg

[Note: we seem to have run poor Shaun's site past his (apparently not very generous) bandwidth allotment. I'm not sure how long that will last, perhaps the rest of the month. My apologies to Shaun (and I suggest he look for a more reasonable web host). In the meanwhile, I've found some Shaun Tan images on the French site La Boîte à Images.]

Posted in: Illustration   |   10 Comments »

10 comments for Shaun Tan »

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  1. Comment by idle.
    Friday, March 16, 2007 @ 3:32 am

    Not sure if it is the fault of “lines and colors” but it seems as if Mr. Tan’s website is currently not reachable due to the server exceeding its allowed monthy bandwith… Too bad, the pictures look very inspiring.

  2. Comment by Li-An
    Friday, March 16, 2007 @ 6:09 am

    I like is work. Imaginative and original.

  3. Comment by Detlef
    Friday, March 16, 2007 @ 7:28 pm

    I have one of Shaun’s books – The Arrival – which is a masterful work of storytelling and beautifully illustrated.

  4. Comment by TARA
    Wednesday, July 30, 2008 @ 8:16 pm


  5. Comment by cathy
    Wednesday, July 30, 2008 @ 8:23 pm

    I find that your books are very inspiring

  6. Comment by CATHY
    Wednesday, July 30, 2008 @ 8:26 pm


  7. Comment by Tara
    Wednesday, July 30, 2008 @ 8:29 pm

    I find your books magnificent and the illusrations just out standing

  8. Comment by samart shuffle
    Friday, February 6, 2009 @ 10:51 pm

    if u r studying belonigng, get red tree, its good

  9. Comment by Johnnie
    Monday, May 3, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

    Amazing art– what is the target audience of your books?

  10. Comment by ilana yaniv
    Monday, June 28, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

    i got two books -the arrivel and the red tree’ and i thing that it is one of the most beutiful presents i have ever got.Not only that you paint amaizing’ but olso your sensetivity’ and anderstanding people and situations is vert spacial.
    Ilana from Israel

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