Tags: reviews

faery

Brian Froud's World of Faerie {book review}

I always look foreword to new offerings from Brian Froud, and World of Faerie is no exception. Overall, I was pleased with this collection of words and images, and my reaction to this, his first major faery-dedicated book in numerous years, is composed more of commentary rather than any real criticism. The original Faeries will always be the pinnacle of his work, in my opinion, but this is not to suggest that his artistic growth in the past 25 years since its publication is not valuable; it is just that Faeries had such a profound influence on my own artwork and worldview from a very early age that it's difficult to supplant something so personally significant. (I also have to take into consideration that 'Faeries' was a collaboration with an equally-gifted artist, Alan Lee, and I do believe that 'Faeries' contains more enchantment than the sum of the talents of both artists.)

This book is something of a compilation and its contents span the course of Froud's thirty-year eldritch journey. There are familiar and well-loved images in its pages — paintings recognizable from Faeries, The Faerie Oracle, The Runes of Elfland, Good Faeries/Bad Faeries, work that has made fleeting appearances on his website over the years, etc. In addition, it includes numerous pieces which were created to accompany Terri Windling's lovely mythopoetic novel The Wood Wife. While these images have appeared online on the Endicott Studio website, I believe this may be the first time they are widely available in print. For die-hard Froudians, there are a few never-before (publicly) seen paintings and drawings scattered throughout. The Unicorn Women are richly-detailed, symbol-laden pieces which are brand new.

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faery

The Art of Faery {book review}

Some people experience Faerie at the level of of art and story, at the level of wonder. Historically, there has been a 'Faery Faith,' and references to it appear in the folklore of rural people all over the world. These beliefs have very little to do with the frivolity and fashion that embodies some of today's interest. The early Faery Faith had a lot to do with safely traversing your local landscapes, and the folklore was filed with warnings, instructions and suggestions for living in harmony with the land on which your people lived.[. . .] Many people today who are interested in faeries enjoy the artistry, the mirth, the costumes, the sparkly-bits (if you will). No problem, faeries have never minded a bit of fun and game. But under all that glitter, something wild and ancient may yet be seen...if you care to look.
- Ari Berk in Faerie Magazine Spring 2007 issue, pages 75-76
Update 7/16/07: Although many of my opinions regarding much of popular fairy art (aptly represented by the volume in question) are still quite intact, my views and overall approach to the contemporary fairy craze and changed and softened somewhat. My earlier, more asinine reflections on the craze were not, as some might suggest 1, due to jealousy borne of the commercial success of some of the artists who are at the vanguard of the genre. Rather my initial fervor has entirely to do with the fact that something very near and dear to me is being cheapened and deprived of its integral mystery and ambiguity largely for the purposes of financial gain and popularity.

If contemporary fairy artists derive joy from their art, then it is hardly my place to attempt to intervene. I also completely understand that artists have to eat, and if fairy art is the vehicle though which they obtain the funds to do so, then more power to them. I still feel that there is a great deal more to Faery than what is displayed in virtually all of their work, and to the extent that what they do contributes to the growing superficiality and watering-down of a deep, profound tradition (sometimes this is born from the artist's genuine lack of knowledge of the subject, other times it is a blithe, arrogant disregard for viewpoints contrary to their own) I cannot fully endorse it.

My new approach has been to seek to initiate change from the inside of the craze rather than by shunning and trying to disassociate from it entirely. An apt phrase comes to mind: "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." Instead of focusing on what I believe to be detrimental, I am working to encourage that which reveals the depth and potency of Faery, hopefully by planting some seeds in the vast soil of the fairy movement with my own art and writing. I want to make peace with the contemporary fairy craze so I can more readily focus on my own work, and it is much more valuable to me to work on establishing and strengthening an alternative path for those genuinely interested in Faery than to waste precious time with too much criticism. Thankfully, I am not the only one seeking towards this end.

In keeping with this more tolerant, progressive approach, I have voluntarily removed the following review on the Amazon 2 website where it had the most exposure, and I have also deleted or disabled numerous other entries in my blogs. The review contains what I still believe to be valid points, which is why I am allowing it to be viewable here, but most of them were stated in a more harsh manner than I would now prefer, and so I have heavily edited even the currently viewable versions. I think my central ideas are still very present in this newer version, however the segments which I deem as too brash and truthfully distracting from those ideas have been deleted.



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