Pictures within Pictures within Pictures

Noma Bar: Graphic Story Telling by Noma Bar. Thames & Hudson, 2017. 9780500021293. 400 pp.

Gene: This is a continuation of last Wednesday’s Book Wow! in which you shared Design is Storytelling. In my book’s title “story telling” is two words. It is filled with graphic designer / illustrator / artist Noma Bar’s work. (He also does sculpture, but it’s mostly images.) Most are flat and each tells a story. This is one of my favorites: Which Came First?  It’s a chicken inside a question mark where the dot on the bottom is an egg. The illustration asks the question posed by the title.
Sarah: That’s really nice!
G: Most of Bar’s images do this, they have several images embedded in them and that’s his genius. They tell the story, but sometimes only if you know the story in question already. Let me show you some of my favorites.
This is a penguin made with a light bulb shape for the white and yellow, part of an IBM campaign called Smarter Planet. It implies environmentalism and energy.
This one is based on two dogs he saw, one was sniffing the other’s butt — part of the dog’s back end and tail for the face of the other dog.
S: In negative space!
G: These are for movies. In the image for Silence of the Lambs, the grate on Hannibal’s muzzle is a black lamb. In Taxi Driver, the space above and behind a cab forms the shape of a gun. In Jaws, the shark’s mouth forms the shape of a swimmer’s foot.
S: Oh yeah!
G: It’s hard for me to notice these types of details. Illustrations done in negative space seems to confuse my mind, it’s very hard for me to see them sometimes.
S: You have to work at it a little bit and that makes them a little sticky.
G: My grandmother had a knocker on her carport door that was the back end of a cat, but I didn’t see it for years. Everyone said it was a cat and laughed but I thought it was some kind of bird and that they were insane. And then I finally saw it one day.
S: Like the Weyerhauser logo. I thought it was clippers or pincers for a long time. I didn’t see the tree.
G: There’s a tree?
Here are some of the sculptures Bar did, including one of Pinocchio as a ping pong paddle, with a paddle for the eye.
S: Oh, and a hand holding a ping pong ball for the smile!
G: There’s a lot of fun stuff here. This is for the TV show Madmen. The collar of a man’s shirt is the skirt of a woman. Her legs are the white of the shirt, the knot of the black tie doubles as her panties and the rest of the tie is the empty space between her legs. Brilliant.
Here’s the London Underground symbol done with mice. It’s cool, but it needs some context — if you’ve never seen the regular symbol for it, it won’t mean much.
Some of my favorites are the movie images. Here’s Audrey Hepburn’s face created with elements of her look.
S: Have you seen Scott C’s book Great Showdowns? You have to know the movie because it doesn’t tell you what they are.
G: Here’s my favorite image in the book, for the movie Pulp Fiction. Vincent is below and in front of the character played by Samuel L. Jackson, and Vincent’s hair is his buddy’s badass mustache.
And there are penises later in the book, some very smart and funny images, my favorite of which features a penis as a dog, for an Esquire article by Mels van Driel containing a list of facts about “man’s best friend.”


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