Review: Structura 2 - The Art of Sparth / Author: Sparth / Publisher: Design Studio Press / Release Date: Out Now
Non-textual books are sometimes difficult to review, especially if you don’t fully know the subject or person that the release celebrates. However, whether you’re aware of it or not, you will know the output of Sparth (aka Nicolas Bouvier) via the mediums of concept game art or sci-fi and fantasy fiction cover art.
As the title suggests, this is a sequel to a previous release that covered the art of Sparth, and it is fair to say that his ideas are delightful. As you flick through the pages, you will find that if you pause long enough on each individual picture, you will start to imagine the world or dimension created within that little box coming to life. This is a skill that some fantasy artists fail at, which is a real shame.
This title highlights the compositions of the artist over the period of 2008-2011 and shows that Sparth is not an artist that likes to rest on his laurels. Within these covers, there are some epic illustrations that encompass expansive space ports and skylines through to open world vistas and tundras that seem to go on forever. Some of these pieces are so lush and fantastical you can start to create a whole universe in your head just by glancing at them. But to do that would be a disservice, as the subtle details in each piece deserve a closer look.
Sparth has included some pure concept and experimental items here, including his attempts to work with just squares to create a work of art. Alongside these are more recognisable book covers from series such as Dune and Star Trek and even some Halo commissions.
The artist is a self-confessed child of Photoshop, and it is an inspiration to see such a range of work undertaken by one individual. He even includes some tutorials which take the reader through each step of an image as it's created, layer by layer. For an artist to open up so freely is refreshing to see and it will hopefully inspire many more artists of the future.
If there is one downside to this release, it is the size of the book. Most of these images deserve to be shown in a much bigger coffee table tome, to fully realise the grandeur that is intended by the artist in each piece. Most of the images would not look out of place on a wall as a full size painting, they are that breath-taking and beautiful to admire. Unfortunately, that kind of release would probably push the retail price far too high for most to consider a purchase.
So, we would recommend buying this portfolio of work if you enjoy sci-fi or fantasy art and, if you can afford it, see if you can commission the artist to create a full-size piece just for you!