Sketches From a Nameless Land- The book behind Shaun Tan’s ‘The Arrival’

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I recently acquired Sketches From a Nameless Land, The Art of the Arrival by Shaun Tan.  The Arrival is one of my favourite books, and if you haven’t read it yet, it is a must read, and also a unique reading experience. It is 189 pages long and without any words. Sketches From a Nameless Land however is another beautiful book. It is a fascinating publication outlining the origins of Tan’s ideas, using examples from early research and his original before they were finished in the published book .

This book is not a prequel or sequel to The Arrival, it is simply an analysis of the thinking behind the book by Tan himself. He goes through how he came up with the characters, city and strange animals and people he constructed in the world the protagonist finds himself in. I particularly enjoyed how Tan came up with the strange little companion he befriends in the tale. He explains in the book he crossed the image of a tadpole and a parrot and he came up with this:

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I’d recommend this book to any person who has read The Arrival or who is a fan of Sahun Tan. Also I believe any aspiring illustrators would find it insightful to see how Tan drew inspiration from mundane objects around him in order to create the fantastical.


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