I recommend Shaun Tan

Submitted by Jerry Halberstadt on Sun, 09/30/2012 - 17:21

As a storyteller who uses photography and text, I seek to discover masterful creators with similar visions. Shaun Tan is an Australian artist whose work combines excellent draftmanship, keen observation, and emotion.

While his work speaks to an adult audience, Tan reports that children are sometimes more perceptive of his intent. The Red Tree is a powerful, simple expression of depression, and he writes how he came to "represent emotions as landscapes...[based on the ability of children and adults to depict intangible feelings] using visual metaphors: monsters, sunlight, rainbows, storm clouds..." (Tan, comment on The Red Tree)

Indeed, Tan's works are a combination of the documentary—representing the truth of a situation—and landscapes that are surreal and fantastic. He finds the absurd, terror, horror, and humor in ordinary things. In the library, his books are classified as Young Adult; I would call them fantastic documentaries.

The Arrival is a documentary history of immigration that combines images that are based on contemporary records of steerage passengers on a ship, the bureaucratic processing of immigrants, all taking place in a fantastic yet vividly true landscape. The language, the fauna and flora, the food, the technology—everything is other-worldly and strange.

The Lost Thing is about a fantastic teapot-like being that just doesn't fit in, but that finally finds a place where it is accepted.

The Rabbits is based on the destruction caused by rabbits imported into Australia, but also about the destruction of habitat, culture, and people caused by the European takeover of the continent.