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Shaun Tan: The Grimm Sculptor

Posted on 31st October 2016 by Sally Campbell
Shaun Tan is an award-winning artist, illustrator and author. Beloved for his quirky, surreal style, Tan is best known for his illustrative work on the picture books The Lost Thing and The Rabbits. His latest book, The Singing Bones, is an exquisitely unusual, entirely original and simply beautiful collection of art inspired by Grimm’s Fairy Tales. We are honoured to present this behind-the-scenes glimpse of Tan's artistic process, exclusive to Waterstones and perfectly apt for All Hallows' Eve.
Grimm’s Fairy Tales are familiar to us all. They are iconic stories that form the background to our childhoods. Equally familiar however is the fact that they are, more often than not, simplified, sugar-coated and de-clawed.




A departure from his usual process, which incorporates preparatory thumbnails and drawings, Tan’s creative method for The Singing Bones was more immediate; when approaching nearly all of the Grimm Fairy Tales, he took to sculpting directly ‘pushing clay around’, as he puts it, in place of sketching. This makes the few sketches (or ‘mental notes’) that do exist rare insights into his process.



The Singing Bones contains photographs of Tan's 75, extraordinary Grimm-inspired scenes, each image accompanied by a short passage which summarises the story it illustrates. The book is also available as part of a limited edition gift box, which contains two signed and numbered prints of Tan's work.

Here, we are delighted to present six early sketches, followed by their final designs: see the Grimm Fairy Tales as you have never seen them before...



The Companionship of the Cat and the Mouse







Hansel and Gretel










The Boy Who Left Home To Find Out About Fear








Faithful Johannes








The Riddle








The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids









 
All images courtesy and copyright © Shaun Tan







 

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