My Favorite Art Books of 2019

Posted By yonghow on December 30th, 2019

My Favorite Art Books of 2019

This year I reviewed 62 art books, a dip again from the 74 I did last year, and 82 back in 2017. I attribute the reasons for the falling numbers to a combination of reduced readership for my blog ( less readers = less conversion, which unfortunately gives me less resources to procure books ) as well as the comparatively smaller number of interesting Japanese art books that I felt was worth picking up.

Despite the reduced quantity, there’s still plenty of great art books that were published in 2019, and these particular 10 are my favorites. I hope you’ll find something of interest in the list, and here’s to a happy 2020 ! –

1) Spider-Man : Into The Spiderverse – The Art Of The Movie

Spider-Man Into The Spiderverse - The Art Of The Movie Book Review

Published in late December 2018, this book narrowly missed my fav art books list of 2018, so I’m including it here for posterity.

Winner of the 2018 Academy Award for Best Animated Film, and a movie I’m super proud to have worked on, this book explores the stunning concept art created for the film, with a surplus of sketches, storyboards, character/environment designs as well as color scripts. The beautiful images that you see in the film were greatly informed by the amazing visuals the concept artists created, so if you like the movie, you’ll the art work in this book too.

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2) Tokyo At Night – The Artworks of Mateusz Urbanowicz II

Tokyo At Night - The Artworks of Mateusz Urbanowicz II Book Review

Tokyo based Polish illustrator Mateusz Urbanowicz‘s first art book Tokyo Storefronts was one of my favorites in 2018, and he’s back again this year strong with Tokyo At Night, a collection of delightful watercolor illustrations that explores the the moody nocturnal sights of the sprawling, skyscraper topped metropolis saturated with neon lights, mysterious back alleys, wet cityscapes lit by reflections and more. It’s a stunning art book from start to end, and I love it.

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3) Real Size – Katsuya Terada Art Book

Real Size - Katsuya Terada Art Book Review

Renowned Japanese illustrator Katsuya Terada’s Real Size is a superb collection of his black marker art works, many of which were created during his live drawing events. The title refers to the print size of the reproductions which are at 100% scale of the original art works, large mural pieces which are cropped and presented across several pages in the book. The complete drawings are also included, scaled down to 16% of the original size.

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4) Making Solo: A Star Wars Story

Making Solo: A Star Wars Story Book Review

Industrial Light & Magic Presents : Making Solo: A Star Wars Story is a handsomely photographed making of book by Rob Bredow, the SVP, executive creative director, and head of Industrial Light & Magic.

As a child, the production photographs of the AT-ATs from The Empire Strikes Back inspired Rob to become a filmmaker, and in meticulously documenting the progress of the production on Solo he hopes to do the same – to inspire the next generation of artists, engineers and storytellers.

The beautiful set photographs gives readers an intimate glimpse into the journey that Solo took from pre-production, production, and post-production, fully documenting how this film came to the big screen.

This book is a great companion for the equally fantastic Art Of Solo – A Star Wars Story, which focuses on the concept art behind the film ( and incidentally one of my fav art books of 2018 ).

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5) The Idol – Sushio

The Idol - Sushio Art Book Review

Sushio is a Japanese animator/illustrator who started his career as an animator at studio Gainax for the TV animation series Neon Genesis Evangelion. After working on many renowned anime series and movies such as One Piece, he took on the character design work for the anime hit series Kill La Kill, catapulting his status in the animation world.

This book is his long-awaited first commercial collection that looks back over his career to date. It features notable works from Kill La Kill, Gurren Lagann, Momoiro Clover Z, along with a panel illustration of Anime Matsuri 2015, his work overseas for an annual anime convention held in Texas, and much more. This book also features Sushio’s illustrations of AKIRA: two original illustrations depicting the imaginary post-AKIRA world, which was officially approved by Katsuhiro Otomo himself, and two illustrations taken from the Tribute to Otomo art book.

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6) The Making Of Alien

The Making Of Alien Book Review

The Making Of Alien is an in-depth and comprehensive book charting the complete story of how Alien was made, featuring new interviews with Ridley Scott and other production crew, and including many rarely-seen photos and illustrations from the Fox archives.

I already own several excellent books on the making of the Alien films, Alien The Archive and Aliens – The Set Photography just to name a few, but this huge hard cover volume explores plenty of material that I’m only seen for the first time, most notably the huge collection of “Ridleygrams”; detail storyboards draw by the director himself, as well as on set production photographs and a giant depository of concept art pieces by several artists like Eliot Scott, Chris Foss and Ron Cobb.

But the book isn’t simply your regular coffee-table book glossed over with just pictures and images. The small print text accompanying the visuals are cramped with detailed production stories and are more scholarly than just a casual read.

As a big fan of the franchise I’m absolutely delighted with this book, and I really look forward to the upcoming Making Of Aliens book, also by J.W. Rinzler.

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7) Children Of The Sea Background Art Book

Children Of The Sea Background Art Book Review

Children Of The Sea ( Kaiju No Kodomo ) is a Japanese animated film directed by Watanabe Ayumu and produced by Studio 4°C, based on the highly acclaimed manga by Daisuke Igarashi. The art direction and background art is supervised by Kimura Shinji, who previously bought us the amazing background art in Tekkon Kinkreet and Steamboy.

Published in the same format at the fantastic Shiro ( White ) background art book for Tekkon Kinkreet, this hardcover volume is bursting at the seams with stunning background art painted by Kimura Shinji, with some 250 pages of art work.

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8) Hellboy – 25 Years Of Covers

Hellboy - 25 Years Of Covers Art Book Review

I enjoy every page and panel of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comics, but the art covers he has illustrated for the comic are something special; often drawn with just that extra, delicate detail. Over the years as the volumes of Hellboy and the shared universe BPRD grew it became harder and harder to keep track of all the covers that he has illustrated, and I started hoping for an art book that is dedicated to just the covers. Hellboy – 25 Years Of Covers is exactly that.

This hardcover volume features more than 150 full-page cover pieces from Mike Mignola, Richard Corben, Duncan Fegredo and more, all neatly collected for easy viewing and enjoyment.

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9) Ikegami Ryoichi Art Works

Ikegami Ryoichi Art Works Book Review

An art book that is long overdue, Ikegami Ryoichi Art Works is a superb collection of illustrations from the famed manga artist of Crying Freeman, Sanctuary and Mai The Psychic Girl.

Running at a sumptuous 288 pages, the art book is split into 2 separate volumes, with one book dedicated to male characters, and the other female. While a good portion of both volumes feature illustrations from Crying Freeman, likely the artist’s most famous work; there’s still a good spread of content from Ikegami’s other mangas, and this is the biggest collection of his art work published yet.

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10) Akira Art Of Wall Art Book

Akira Art Of Wall Art Book Review

This book arrived just in time to be included in this year’s list, and also made for a very splendid Christmas present.

Four sets of giant Akira murals ( see the pictures I took here, here and here ) used to decorate the construction walls of the Parco Shibuya shopping mall in Tokyo from the period of 2017-2019 are fully reproduced in this stunning boxset. The panoramic art work looks spectacular when fully extended, and would immediately class up any wall lucky enough to be adorned with it. I think this might very well be my favorite art book of the year, among all my favorites.

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Besides the 10 books that I’ve listed above, some other noteworthy mentions include Marvel Monograph: The Art Of Esad Ribic, Perfect Blue Storyboard Book ( New Edition ), The Art Of Kazuchika Kise and Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Mike Mignola Graphic Novel ( B&W edition ).

You can take a look at the full list of 2019’s art book reviews here, and I also recommend my favorite art books of 2018/2017/2016/2015/2014/2013/2012.

If you need help with ordering on Amazon Japan, the FAQs below will guide you through, step by step.

One small request – Due to the falling readership of my blog, I’ve been finding it harder and harder to purchase more books for review. I kindly ask that you use any of the Amazon purchase links in this post or anywhere on my blog to buy books; it won’t cost you anything, but the affiliate fee I earn as a result will allow me to continue reviewing more books. Thank you !

And lastly, I’ll love you hear about your favorite art books this year too, if you have any to share. Happy New Year !

How To Order From Amazon Japan - Detailed Buying Guide

Buying From Amazon Japan FAQ


One Response to “My Favorite Art Books of 2019”

Miss Booleana

Great list! Enjoyed reading the blog the past years and will continue. Thank you