Damien Mason

Kangaroo Flat, Australia

I am a web designer, flash developer and illustrator. I live in Bendigo with my lovely wife Cheryl and out little kids Oscar and Lily and...

My review of Compassion, Courage and Friendship, the latest Redbubble Publication

I’ve had a copy of Compassion, Courage and Friendship (seen here for size comparison), sitting on my desk for a couple of days now. I’ve been trying to work out how best to review it. To be honest, when somebody sends you something free it’s really hard to get past the joy of that and see to the heart of the matter.. but as this is a review that might help people decide whether to buy this book or not, I need to be as unbiased and honest as I can.

And so I put on my critical pants.

For starters, the packaging is really nice. It’s got its own little box that the book sits in so if you’re like me you spend an extra few seconds trying to work out how it opens before you realise. The book itself is on great stock, the cover in that semi-gloss you want to rub your face against and the pages slightly thicker than, say, Black and White magazine. It also smells like rainbows and tastes like goodness. Sorry, just trying to get the sycophancy out of my system. Unicorns!

Opening it up, I was really pleased to see there was actually non-photographic work in there. I was expecting something like a photo book, with a single token painting, a couple of stories and maybe one photoshop job, but I have to take my invisible hat off to Natalie Perkins, Glen Smith, Anne van Alkemade, Julie Langford and Christopher Barker for the variety and quality of the work in here. For all that I’m obsessed with fonts and gsm, the work is clearly the star of the book, and each piece singularly is wonderful. Of course you can’t put two images (or an image and a story) next to each other and expect one won’t alter the other, they’re like colours, changing their nature depending on how you shuffle them. In this case the work really compliments it’s neighbour, and you can tell Jo O’Brien and Hop Dac spent many a night poring over the content, placing and replacing them like an elaborate painting with infinite solutions. Also, I like to imagine them wearing blonde wigs and sword fighting with umbrellas. While we’re visualising.

I feel like I’d be letting people down by not having a negative, so I’m going to mention fonts. Mainly the fonts are fine, I really like the style, but I think if you’re going to have a font that mimics handwriting, you might as well grab a pen and just write it yourself. You need that variation in characters, rather than every “a” looking exactly the same.. and if you don’t have the time or pens to write them all out, at least don’t choose an “i” with something as distinctive as a heart over it. The first time I noticed it I thought “Oh look, a tiny heart”, but by the end of the book every little heart caused by own to skip. I’m really not a fan of that.

I guess in the end what I need to ask myself is “Would I buy the book?”. Yes, I would buy it, I would certainly give it as a gift to loved ones, or post it to a stranger or lay it on the ground and dance around it. In a word, it’s professional. From a website where anybody can play if they bring their own ball that is a wonderful thing. It makes me both want to buy and be part of future books.

Just vary the characters a little next time.

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