This large-format, 120-page Australian import is an exhaustive exposition of a unique art form, letter art.
In a two-page preface, Coote notes that the advent of the Apple Macintosh computer in the 1980s gave graphic designers access to a multitude of typefaces and the ability to freely manipulate letterforms to create “a kind of alphabetical sculpture, or pictorial anagram.” She defines her three rules for letter art by skill level. Beginners should use letters any way they choose; more-advanced practitioners should “use only the letters found in the correct spelling of the name” of their subject; and “Designers” should “use only the correct spelling and only one font per letter.” The book is divided into three sections: “Architext,” depicting architecture and famous monuments; “Alphabeasts,” showing a range of animals, complete with instructions and puzzles; and “Letterheads,” with instructions on how to portray facial features using letters along with skillful depictions of historical characters, artists, and showbiz personalities. (Frida Kahlo’s face lends itself well to this type of portrayal.) The visual puzzles are amusing and intriguing, but the text is written in a juvenile, "how to do it" mode, implying a level of practical potential that will ultimately disappoint many kids who would like to create these types of images, as most are unlikely to have the skills or technical resources required.
As an album of the art form, impressive; as instruction in it, less so. (Nonfiction. 8-14)