I love coffee-table-style art books. I own more art books than my local library – okay…I live in a very rural area so that’s not such a big deal. Still, I own a lot. And when I get the opportunity to review an art book, I am so thrilled an eager. Art of Atari is a little different from many of my art books because the subject is a brand and not an artist or a style – well, sort of. Atari definitely had its own style.
I was never a big electronic gamer (I did own an early version of Pong, but who didn’t?) but I was well aware of the Atari games, in large part because of the attractive and active art on the boxes. This book takes us through all that art, recreating the images in beautiful detail, and introduces us to the artists who created this packaging, as well as the art directors responsible for the look.
When the artists look back and comment on how they approached the concept, how they got the look they were trying for, or just reflecting on a particular image we get a real nice glimpse at creativity in process. Too often we don’t consider the commercial artist as an artist. I think that Atari recognized the artist in the individuals and it shows. Atari also seemed to be ahead of its time with their inclusion of women in the creative department. Judging by the comments from at least two of the women who were artists on some of the covers, it was a very progressive.
But this is so much more than just a great art book about the art for Atari products. This is also a history book about the early stages of the video game industry and in some ways a social commentary on the era.
We get a look, not just at the art itself, but the process. In some cases we see the sketches and early drafts. My favorite moment in the book was when a piece that was intended for the interior art was selected as the cover art because the intended cover piece was turned down when “the gal in charge of marketing came in to (Steve Hendricks’) office after Mike approved it, and said she’d pull it because ‘you can’t have eyes in that place.'” Though I hadn’t noticed (and neither had anyone at Atari until a woman pointed it out) a large pair of eyes was painted right where a woman’s breasts were in this particular collage.
And it’s not just the cover art that we get in this book. Author Tim Lapetino also digs into the art of the design of the gaming console, showing just how forward-thinking Atari was.
This is a remarkable book. It is something that you can sit and read, or just sit and enjoy the pictures. A hard copy will look nice on my coffee table.
Looking for a good book? The Art of Atari by Tim Lapetino is more than an art book. It is an art book and a history book and something you should very much enjoy.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Art of Atari
author: Tim Lapetino
publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
hardcover, 352 pages