On the inside flap of Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks, its states that Calef Brown, its author and illustrator, “is a blue elephant.” I was about nine when I first became acquainted with this work, and struggled to understand how the elephant illustrated above the short bio could wield a paintbrush so effectively with its flat circular-soled elephant foot. But as there was no other explanation, I could do nothing but accept and move on to the hugely enjoyable array of bizarre rhymes and wonderful images on its pages. I can still recite any of them, and am still entertained by the glorious juxtaposition of creatures and beasts and contemporary North American culture.
Brown is actually not a blue elephant – he’s a graduate of the Pratt Institute and has worked as an illustrator since 1992. Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks, published in 1998, was his first illustrated and written publication, and more have followed, including Dutch Sneakers and Flea Keepers in 2000, and Flamingos on the Roof in 1996. Those titles are every indication of the eclecticism in his work which utilises paint, linear drawing, collage-like elements, and unconventional colourisation to very graphic effect. Along with children’s books, he produces editorial illustration and images for advertising, so don’t ignore the elephant, take a proper look!
- Chaz Bundick talks us through the new digitally personable Company website
- Animator Frances Haszard’s gender neutral breakup story
- Photographer Norman Behrendt depicts Turkey’s majestic mosques
- Explore North Korean graphic ephemera in Phaidon’s new book
- “Have a process you can apply to any situation, space or time”: what we learned from Converse’s Lovejoy Art Benefit
- Standards Manual return with catalogue of 400 objects relating to New York City Transit
- Polaroid’s creative director Danny Pemberton introduces new brand Polaroid Originals
- Artist Dominique Pétrin on creating her very own domestic product
- Universal Everything animate emotive wallpapers for new iPhone devices
- Herburg Weiland’s meticulous editorial designs are typographically-driven
- The Visual History of Type author Paul McNeil selects and dissects his six favourite faces
- Breakdown Press’ Joe Kessler picks out his most-treasured books