The Art of Looking Sideways, Hardback

The Art of Looking Sideways Hardback

5 out of 5 (5 ratings)


The Art of Looking Sideways is a primer in visual intelligence, an exploration of the workings of the eye, the hand, the brain and the imagination.

It is an inexhaustible mine of anecdotes, quotations, images, curious facts and useless information, oddities, serious science, jokes and memories, all concerned with the interplay between the verbal and the visual, and the limitless resources of the human mind.

Loosely arranged in 72 chapters, all this material is presented in a wonderfully inventive series of pages that are themselves masterly demonstrations of the expressive use of type, space, colour and imagery. This book does not set out to teach lessons, but it is full of wisdom and insight collected from all over the world.

Describing himself as a visual jackdaw, master designer Alan Fletcher has distilled a lifetime of experience and reflection into a brilliantly witty and inimitable exploration of such subjects as perception, colour, pattern, proportion, paradox, illusion, language, alphabets, words, letters, ideas, creativity, culture, style, aesthetics and value. The Art of Looking Sideways is the ultimate guide to visual awareness, a magical compilation that will entertain and inspire all those who enjoy the interplay between word and image, and who relish the odd and the unexpected.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1064 pages, 700 illustrations, (300 colour )
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Graphic design
  • ISBN: 9780714834498



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Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.

Review by

Something interesting on almost every page. And it's got lots of pages, too.

Review by

This is one of my favorite books but it's very hard to describe. Overall, it's about design, but it's also equal parts biography, philosophy, and quote book. If you love design and pick it up, you'll have a hard time putting it back down again.

Review by

This is a great and inspirational design book. It has some beautiful designs and interesting essays. It is something you can look at from time to time but not something you can sit down with for a long period.

Review by

This is simply an astonishing book that I suggest you should savour. In a sense I feel that there is little more to say than to advise you to obtain a copy.This may not feel like much of a review, and for the left brained reader requiring logic with which to justify their purchase, I will try to oblige, superfluous though this feels.This is a large book with over 500 large format pages. It is described by Alan Fletcher as the work of a visual Jackdaw to produce an exploration of the workings of the eye, the hand, the brain and the imagination. As he describes ‘The book attempts to open windows to glimpse views rather than dissect the pictures on the wall. To look at things from unlikely angles.... The book has no thesis, is neither a whodunit or a how-to-do-it, has no beginning middle or end. It’s a journey without a destination.... It is unlike most books, those that are concerned with the mechanics rather than the thoughts, with the match rather than the fire.’The result is not a book to sit down and read sequentially from cover to cover, rather an environment of ideas and stimuli through which to journey, an exploration in which to become immersed.Reading through reviews of the book on Amazon, all seem to come from graphic designers, indeed the author is a renown graphic designer himself. The result is a book that is a delight to hold. The different paper types and textures, intriguing layouts and inviting formats mean that every page turned leads to new discoveries even before their content is examined. Its merits as an exemplar of the art of design are clear, but this is much more than a role model for designers. It is a book that in infinite ways serves as a catalyst for thinking. It has a multifaceted ability to present aspects of the world in new ways, that defy you seeing them the way you always have in the past. Through the imaginative use of images and text, quotations, snippets of information, and a host of other approaches, this is a feast for the mind as well as the eye.It’s not simply a book that I can’t stop dipping into, I can’t stop smiling at the fact that Alan Fletcher took the time, care and attention to detail to share it with me. It is quite simply a pleasure to hold.If you obtain a copy I recommend a pack of post-it notes to catalogue the innumerable pages you will want to return to.

Review by

This is a disjointed somewhat mess of a book that made me think and wonder and gave me occasional headaches while it played with my perception.Alan Fletcher was a designer, this is like his scrapbook of ideas and thoughts and cool findings, everything from an Indian tailors ruler to the musing (p411) "Inventing a new alphabet doesn't carry the same inhibitions as adapting an old one. In the 1820s Cherokee Chief Sequoyah, impressed by white man's writing, designed an alphabet. Taking the letters he cannibalized them to make new ones adding curlicues and flourishes, and allocating them phonetic sounds. The Cherokee [who called white man's books 'talking leaves'] called Sequoyah's typographic font 'talking stones'A thought: Here is an illiterate Native American in the early nineteenth century, appropriating Roman letters, which had been adopted from the ancient Greeks, who had in turn copied them from a rudimentary Phoenician script developed from pictograms used in ancient Sumer, which had originated in an even more ancient Egypt - long, long before the dynasties of Pharaohs."It's full of this sort of thing, musings and facts and playing with typography and text direction and now I need a light book to heal my brain and allow some of the thinking to process fully.

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