Artful Dodger by Nick Bantock – review

By | 26 November 08

The Artful Dodger: Images and Reflections by Nick Bantock is a must-own for fans of his art and writing.

Nick Bantock may be best known for his Griffin & Sabine Trilogy, but he has authored many other extraordinarily beautiful books featuring his own art and text.

Book CoverIn the Artful Dodger, Bantock offers some of his most haunting, beautiful, and inspiring art from each of his books, with commentary.

In the some cases, he explains why he wrote the books the way that he did and provides insights to his creative process.  If some of his more cryptic books have baffled you, you may find answers in this large, comprehensive volume.

Bantock also shares many examples of other art that he has created, including his paintings as well as book covers and illustrations for other authors.

In discussing the art process, Bantock dismisses any attempts at faux elitism. In talking about some of his paintings, Bantock says, “I was working on the floor so that I could walk around the piece. Also I was using brushes less and less, often paintings with my fingers. ”

Later, discussing his pop-ups, Bantock says, “I taught myself how to construct pop-ups by trial and error; using scissors and a role of Scotch tape. I began with simple cuts and folds; then, when I’d gotten the hang of the easy stuff, I started dismantling any old pop-up books I could get my hands on to see how the more complex paper mechanics functioned. ”

By offering a wide range of examples from many years of his work as an artist, Bantock gives us a fabulously inspiring overview of his development and his talents. The results are stunning.

If you have been inspired by Bantock’s art but are less interested in his stories, the Artful Dodger is a wise investment. However, all fans of Bantock will enjoy this book; it includes favorites from most of his stories as well as a tour of his lesser-known studio works.

This is a high quality, hardcover coffee table book that you will treasure for years to come. It is among my favorites references for collage and mixed media art.

PROS: A rich sampling featuring varied art by an extraordinary contemporary artist. Varied techniques, media, subjects, and approaches offer a wealth of inspiration for artists.

CONS: Does not include the intriguing envelopes and enclosures of the Griffin & Sabine series, only the art. Very little text from the original books; instead, Bantock offers extensive narrative insights and backstory for his popular art novels.


  • Coffee table book, not a how-to book
  • Insights into Bantock’s inspiring art career
  • Includes many of the best of Bantock’s illustrations

If you like Bantock’s art, this book is a worthwhile purchase for your studio reference library.


For others’ reviews of this book
see, or, in the UK, see


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