Review: The Woodcut Portraits, by Alex Binnie

The guys over at Kintaro Publishing were very generous and offered to send me Alex Binnie’s new book recently. Naturally, I didn’t have to think about whether to take up their offer.

This new book by Alex is a series of woodcut portraits, which are absolutely beautiful and technically brilliant. You may have read about this book before here, from around a week or so ago, which gave a little background to the book. If you didn’t, the premise is simple- woodcut portraits, an impressively put together book, and a foreword by Henk Schiffmacher. You can’t ask for better than that.

The book starts off with a “Top of the morning, me hearties” from Henk Schiffmacher, which I felt just gave a really positive impression of the book, and as the foreword goes on, Alex’s talent. Perfect!

A lot of the time, when you think about a book of portraits, you may get the impression that even if you think the work is great you’ll ultimately find the book boring. Everyone has seen at least one book of portraits where you’ve just thought, “yep, there’s a face. There’s another face. Oh look, another face, I don’t care”. Technically it’s really good work, but there’s nothing innovative in it which interests you. It’s alright to admit that, everyone has seen a book like that, I think. This book, however, is so unique that one could even describe it as a bit of a page-turner.

The thing that Alex really gets right is the way he presents these portraits- it seems that he’s incorporated a part of each individual’s personality on the page alongside their portrait. He even takes the tattooers he’s used as a subject, and put their own style of art into the picture itself. I think it’s particularly effective in Jondix’s and Freddy Corbin’s portraits. In Freddy’s portrait, you can see him as one of the saints he tattoos a lot. It’s all very cool and classic, much like Freddy. Thomas Hooper’s portrait is very dark, which is quite typical of his work too.

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I think that if you are to buy a book like this, you want to be impressed, and you want to be able to think to yourself, ‘wow this is insane, how can someone even do that?!’. This book really delivers in that sense as well, as Alex is so gifted that you will find parts of this book that really astound you. If you leave this on your coffee table, you will find yourself with a friend talking about how great it is.

I think a small part of this also comes down to Kintaro, who have put the book together wonderfully. It physically feels like a great quality book, which is something that some publishers aren’t as good at. Yes, the work from Alex is great, but at the same time there’s a lot to be said about the thoughtfulness which goes into something like this. No one wants to see great work insulted by cheap glossy paper and a cover which looks like it will fall apart. This book is sturdy and of great quality.

This is getting a bit long for a book review, however I could go further into this given half the chance! Instead, I highly recommend you buy this book. You can buy this from Kintaro here.

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  1. […] The lovely AndrĂ© at Kintaro Publishing has been in touch recently to let us know about a really fantastic contest he and the guys are having at the moment on their Facebook page. Three very lucky people will be in for a chance to win Alex Binnie’s book, The Woodcut Portraits. This is a really amazing book, so it’s definitely worth checking this out. You can see my review of the book by clicking here. […]



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