The past 12 months have been very busy. I have been working with 2 different publishers on my 2 artist monographs, I Love You, OK? and Mono Taxali. Both books are comprehensive collections of my works, yet there are no crossover images in either book. This is the first time that my works have been released in collections in book format. I am very honoured and excited to have these 2 beautiful books out in the world. Below is the story of how each one came together.
I Love You, OK?
A few years ago, my sister and agent, Vandana Taxali, connected me with teNeues, a German publisher of fine art books and products, through their NYC offices. They immediately loved my work and Vandana and I agreed to licensing a few of my existing works for their Composition Book series (stationery notebooks that feature different artists’ images on the front and back covers). This eventually led to their asking me to do a book project of my works. Vandana and I jumped on the chance as we were big fans of teNeues and their amazing and sophisticated publishing collection of artists Ryan McGinness, Ed Hardy and Banksy. teNeues connected me with their editor, Anshana Arora, whom I instantly clicked with. She arranged for their designer, Robb Ogle, whom was living and working in Toronto, to meet me in person. We also instantly clicked. Anshana and Robb was elated by my suggestion for the book (and I think, relieved). I wanted a dense, large collection of works with details, croppings and no text, not even pagination. Something where the viewer could get lost in my pictures, page after page, image after image. Some of the spreads have many works, some are blown out details of works and others are quiet, sublime pages with the works resting on white pages in quiet contemplation. Robb laid out the works beautifully and understood my pictures and how to put them together. Seeing them in all in the early draft versions made me realize how every gallery exhibit I have had is a mere chapter in the larger book of my life’s work.
Once the book came together, it needed introductions so Anshana asked me if there was anyone I wanted to write something. Many people may be aware of my involvement with singer/songwriter Aimee Mann through my work on the cover and inside of her last album, Smilers. Along with her brilliant Art Director/Designer, Gail Marowitz, we three were nominated for a 2009 Grammy for Best Art Package but alas, we lost to Radiohead. Since that “Grammy Shmammy” blow off, , Aimee and I have grown closer and become really great friends. I visit her in LA and our time of eating burritos by her pool, drawing pictures, doing small printmaking collaborations and comic jams, are reminders of how my job has something more than perks. True, amazing and lasting friendships built on art that have served and shaped me to grow as a person. Just listen to any of Aimee Mann’s gorgeous songs and you’ll know what I mean.
Aimee immediately agreed to write a foreword. I had no idea what to expect but the wonderful, kind, thoughtful and honest words she wrote describe me to a T.
The next person whom I asked to write something was internationally famous street artist, Shepard Fairey. He is most known for his Obama “Hope” poster and of course, his “Obey” art found in in every major city’s (and some, not so major) all over the earth. Shepard and I show in some of the same galleries, and have been in many other group shows and books together over the years. Shepard was the perfect person to ask because I knew he loved my work and we have even traded art. He had sent me a few nice notes over the years and we even had a wonderful time over dinner in LA talking about our love of punk rock music a few years ago. Shepard happily agreed and wrote a fantastic, intelligent, insightful and awesomely perceptive foreword. It’s such a great and penetrating analysis of my work conveying my exact ideas and themes. Like Aimee, Shepard gets me.
I Love You, OK? is officially published. This hardcover book has 144 pages featuring over 120 works. The book is beautifully printed and measures 6 x 7.5 inches and has text in English, German and French. I was sent an advance copy from Germany a few weeks ago and holding it, I truly feel that it s my living story, alive and in my hands. Thanks to my lovely sister, of course. This whole project falls solely on her lap. And you don’t have to ask, yes, my book is dedicated to her. Because she knows I love her. OK?
A little while after teNeues Publishing approached me, I was contacted by Franco Cervi, a graphic designer in Milan whom owns a publishing company called 27_9. Franco expressed interest in also doing a monograph collection of my works. He sent me a few of his books and I was immediately impressed at not only the content of these smart books, but the quality of the design and printing. One of the books he sent was called Mono Shout, a beautiful book Franco published on the works of Alessandro Gottardo, an Italian based artist whom I have big admiration for as a friend and colleague. Vandana and I agreed to do the book and since we had already begun the I Love You, OK? book project, we decided to include completely different works for Mono Taxali, especially since it would be officially released shortly after my other book. Franco is a wonderful designer and I love the fact that Mono Taxali has a completely different vibe and feel from my other book. It’s quieter, more sublime, features more of the works in their entirety and therefore, is a wonderful compliment to I Love You, OK?. Just like my teNeues book, the printing is spectacular. It has 304 pages, measures 6 x 7 x 2 inches (very thick book!). It features four-color printing on laid paper and special varnishes, and comes in a hard cover with a dust jacket.
Mono Taxali has more forewords than I Love You, OK?. I feel so humbled and honoured to have such fantastic contributions from the amazing list of people. Printed on the book’s dust jacket, is a wonderful quote from the awesome Monte Beauchamp, Art Director/Creator of BLABWORLD (an anthology of art, illustration and comic art published annually by Fantagraphics) who wrote:
“Did your parents ever tear up your anthologies of lowbrow art? Did you ever receive warnings about how art mags such as Juxtapoz and BLAB! would ruin your mind?
Were you lectured that artists who contributed to such trash could never freelance for Sony, MTV, or Newsweek – or receive awards and honors from the likes of American Illustration, Communication Arts, and the Society of Illustrators? Did your parents recommend you spend time with the more respectable art publications instead?
Then let Mono Taxali whisk away all such foolish notions!
Flip open this book and see for yourself how the brilliant Gary Taxali defied all the rules.”
Genius illustrator/designer, Seymour Chwast (of Pushpin Studios fame) wrote the book’s opening foreword. (Just even writing that sentence gives me the goose bumps!) The next foreword is written by the single most important authority on graphic communications, Art Director/Writer/Lecturer and Critic, the wonderful Steve Heller. The third foreword was written by the biggest friend and promoter of illustration, the brilliant Charles Hively, Art Director and Publisher of 3×3: The Magazine of Contemporary Illustration. The books Afterword is written by a really well-known Italian writer and art critic named Ferruccio Giromini who has written many books. I love his insights and takes on my work.
I dedicated Mono Taxali to the memory of my father, Rajinder Mohan Taxali. My father was an artist, though not professionally. He taught me how to draw and paint and I owe my entire life’s work to his guidance, influence and inspiration.
I think he would have really liked this book. Both of them.
Next month, I will be doing a signing event for both my books on Wednesday, September 21st at The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto. A few weeks later, I will be in LA signing my books on Saturday, October 8th at La Luz de Jesus Gallery.
If you would like to purchase one (or both books), please visit my e-store at TaxaliOnline.com