The Trickster’s Hat

Nick Bantock is still best known as the artist behind the epistolary stories of Griffin & Sabine. Those books (six in all, first released over 20 years ago) were a kind of pop-up for adults, with postcards and letters included in gorgeously decorated envelopes, accompanied by made-up stamps from non-existent places. (And now the first three have been optioned for a film.)

Bantock’s newest book is something entirely different. The Trickster’s Hat: A Mischievous Apprenticeship in Creativity is an artist’s handbook, a collection of 49 creative exercises aimed at freeing one’s imagination and self-expression. Most involve painting or collage, techniques that won’t surprise those familiar with Bantock’s art.

Each lists required materials and time, ranging from 2 or 3 minutes through hours to an entire day, depending on the activity. Topics include, for example, alternate-hand doodling, building self-portraits from found images, junk shopping, a kind of Mad Libs with nouns, writing limericks and rants and lies, building games and little villages, seeking magic and inspiration.

The small hardcover is portable but sturdy, and even if one doesn’t engage in the exercises, the suggestions of influences and alternate ways of thinking and seeing can be inspiring. The activities are punctuated by images of Bantock’s own creations. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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