Pictoplasma – Character Portraits – book review

Edited by Peter Thaler and Lars Denicke

Published by Pictoplasma Publishing ISBN 978-3-942245-06-7

Review by Maia Fjord

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The newest Pictoplasma Character Portraits compilation book is out, and with more than 600 artworks and individual character studies by 200 international artists it describes itself as “The Ultimate Source Book of Postdigital Portraiture for Character Designers, Connoisseurs and the Creatively Curious”.

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The books begins with an introductory conversation that brings the artists together with image theorists, cultural historians, psychologists, roboticists, cryptozoologists, media theorists and advertisers, which can also be found in Spanish and German at the back of the book. This lengthy interview-style conversation covers several fascinating points, and it is particularly interesting to read the opinions of professionals with different areas of expertise. These opening pages are filled with intriguing concepts that really make you think (and potentially further consider your own practice), such as whether or not a fictional character can have a soul.

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After the opening text, the compilation of character portraits begins, and readers are free to flick through a huge collection of characters of all different shapes, sizes, colours and materials. I found the variety of mediums the characters have been created in especially interesting – the book covers character design in everything from paintings to installation pieces, street art to graphic digital art, toy design to drawings, and knitting to glass blowing. The featured characters vary from one end of the spectrum to the next – there are so many varieties that it would be impossible to attempt to sum up the content. Suffice to say, the book showcases a giant compilation of bright, expressive, colourful (or at times not so colourful) characters, all bursting with their own unique personalities. The last part of the book also includes a selection of ‘Character Selfies’ from this year’s Pictoplasma festival, which are all really distinctive and fun.

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Overall, this huge compilation is filled with over 400 pages of incredibly inspiring imagery and characters, and the variety in design and personality throughout means that there’s something for every aspiring or established character artist to enjoy. As I progressed through the book, I found that the urge to do some character design was building at an extraordinary rate, and by the time I had finished I was very enthused to immediately create something (or someone) of my own.

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