You might have seen the flick through video we posted a week or so back of Monokrome, a new hardback coffee table book looking at the blackbooks and sketchpads of graff artists worldwide. I just got my hands on a copy and have been absorbing the 224 pages, beautifully printed on really nice canvas effect paper, non stop for the last few days.
It’s unique selling point is that it features only black and white images, something that really helps you appreciate the form of not only the letters of world class writers such as Peak, Denz, Lik and Hush, but also the more abstract offerings of heads like Remi:Rough (below) and Kofie. However, something else that really stands out for me is the rawness of the whole book. While there’s a fair few books that focus on the behind the scenes element of writers blackbooks, they tend to focus on the cleanest, most polished pages, rather than giving a full idea of the everyday workings. Monokrome, on the other hand, shows a nice variety of both and lets you really see into the rough sketches and early workings out, allowing an insight into the minds of some of the greatest graff and graff inspired artists on the planet.
After an inspiring ode to graffiti from ‘Fed the Nonsense’ crew veteran Hush, it kicks straight into 31 featured artists, each filling a few pages with sketchbook works alongside interviews that help give an idea of the people behind the illustrations. While the interviews feature so many heartfelt quotes about the meaning of graff that they can become slightly predictable, they help to break up the imagery really well an give a feel of completion and bulk to the book. There is also some interesting facts and moments and plenty of insights that help ground the illustrations. I’m really feeling System’s futuristic, Matrix esque illustrations and the mathematical texts he draws over shows exactly why it’s nice to see the creative processes of these artists. Peaks wild style is also heavy and Ben One brings the most polished pieces to the book with his gothic skulls. I also really enjoyed seeing Kofie’s work in here, I’ve been inspired by his abstract curves and lines for a while and seeing it in B&W creates a different impression entirely.
It finishes off with some mixed pages featuring pieces from different artists alongside each other, creating a nice flick through towards the end of the book that’s broken up only by further quotes from the artists involved.
The slightly creepy devil thumb character holding a petrified owl on the books hardbound cover is by ‘Red Eye Mob’ crew’s Itch, who’s just one of the artists representing for Characters throughout, with Comolo’s strange oriental dragons also really standing out. This sums up how the book really does represent for all elements of graff, from straight up letters and burning wildstyle through post graff abstraction, characters and even illustration with a more comic book style and less obvious graff influence. For that reason, it’s a product that will appeal to writers, illustrators and simply those with an eye for drawings alike.
In short, it’s a great quality product with plenty of top notch content to keep a variety of heads interested. The photography throughout is good quality and pages dedicated to those photos help mix up proceedings a little and give the impression of a considered design process, something furthered by Aaron Munday’s unobtrusive but clean and on point graphic design. It’s gonna regularly be pulled out of my bookshelves for a while that’s for sure. Head over to the Monokrome website to pick it up.