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Artbook Review: Machines and Magic

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(Originally published 11/09/2014)

Just got my artbook order from Amazon the other day. Included in my order was “Kris Kuksi´s “Divination and DelusionJason Felix´s Salvaged, and the international sci-fi and fantasy artbook edited by Craig Musselman: “Machines and Magic”

About this Machines and Magic artbook I wanted to write a little review, not only because I´m part of it, but also because I think it fills a gap between Spectrum and Exposé.

Here is a video that shows a flip through to get a glimpse of what you can expect from this book.
Flip-through preview:

The artist list includes names like Peter Mohrbacher, Rob Rey, Liiga Smilshkalne, Dimitri SirenkoRaoul Vitale, George Patsouras and yours truly.

So what can I say about the book and am I supposed to say even something?
Well, I am a collector of artist books myself and I have seen a lot, my current collection counts over 100 art books! Standards of expections are often depending on the price and with $29.99 its not a steal, but its also in the middle field for a book of around 150 pages with pure inspiration, especially for a book on demand.

I know I could have got a pdf as a complimentary copy but when it comes to artbooks I prefer printed and physical books, which was the reason I supported Craig with this project.

For artists, especially illustrators working in the genre art, sci-fi and fantasy sector, its important to get published and these artbook compilations are a nice way to get exposure for little to no cost.
Ballistic books gives every included artist a free printed copy of the book and even entry is free, but its important to note that Ballistic does no book on demand and has the financial background to handle shipping and around 150-200 copies to artists worldwide.
Spectrum on the other hand has a fee on entries, no ftp submission – so basically artists have to pay in advance per piece + shipping costs for no certainty to be included. Some other publications like “Illustration Now” from Taschen are invite only, which is a system that in my opinion can´t show the true gems of what´s great out now, only what the editors know, and that can, but has not per se be to the best in fact.

Artwork: juried quality and a wide variety of technique
From the quality of artworks included I would say this is always depending on many factors: Artworks submitted by the artists for consideration and the taste of the editors for example.
The latter is a subject that I find even in books like “Spectrum” questionable at times, but in all these books it can be summed up to just a few percent of images that I´d have cut as editor.
The 91 artists included in this book span a wide variety on techniques, ranging from pencil to oils over digital painting to sculpture and photo manipulation. Unlike the Ballistic “Exposé” books where only CG-art is featured and even photomanipulation is not really considered CG!

Now to a little scarcity of the book that isn´t really an issue: the quality of the print is definitely great, just the paper of the interior is matte and has a mild structure. Which results in the impression that the prints are roughly rastered, but they are not! Its just the light on the paper structure that reflects oddly.

Other than that the colors are pretty great and the resolution of the printed images are excellent, opposed to some fuzzy pictures from the “Kris Kuksi” -artbook, which seems to be shot with a 3megapixel camera (which is a pity to say the least, but especially considering the price).

Conclusion:
Overall I can give out 4 of 5 Stars because of the paper choice of the publisher.
I know that all the editing and acquiring – to get the artist to participate in this project – has been a lot work for one person, this fact alone deserves to look over this little paper issue.
All in all, it can be said its a very good overview of the genre art, sci-fi and fantasy illustration scene and my recommendation for an inspiration overdose is to buy this along with the most recent Spectrum #18 and Exposé #9 artbook!

You can order your copy either here via Amazon, or from the website of the editor.

Now some photographs of the book, (please note the images were made with ISO 800 and may not be perfectly reflecting the colors and the quality).

 

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About the Author Oliver Wetter

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