Since Julie and I named our cat Monster after Monsters, Inc., I think it’s only fitting that I write my official review of The Art of Monsters, Inc. book as our first review in the series. The Art of Monsters, Inc. is much like the other “art of” books in the series – packed full of amazingly beautiful pieces of art and insights that helped mold the characters and storyline that we’ve come to love.
The book – one of the most sought after in the series – is no longer published (UPDATE – As of July 2012, the book is now being republished and can be purchased using the link at the bottom of this post).
Originally published in 2001, this book (144 pages) is filled with amazing works of art by many, many artists who helped shape the film, but I couldn’t help but see (and feel) the strong influence of Harley Jessup (Production Designer) in this book. His marker and ink work is stunning and so filled with detail yet feels so easy at the same time. Even his acrylic work (which donned the cover) is beautiful and filled with so much life.
The other artist whose work shined in this book was Dominique Louis – his masterful pastel work is so wonderfully lit and shaded it feels like a photograph with dramatic lighting. I think the best example of this is in his concept art of Sulley and Mike’s kitchen.
Although the book is true to its name and is filled with mounds of art – there are also great insights written and unwritten that you can pull from the pages. For instance, Pete Docter (Director) noted that “Sullivan’s design evolved over two years of development and thirty different 3-D sculpts.” He also noted that Mike’s design basically remained the same from one of the original sketches.
Some of the unwritten observations that you can pull from the book are related to the environment and the character Boo. In the early concept drawings, the monster world looked very ominous and contained a lot of images of leafless trees and shadows – I’m glad that they ended with a more “city feel” so the audience could relate on a more personal level. The other thing I noted while browsing the pages was that the character Boo was supposed to originally have red hair. This wasn’t stated in the book but after countless drawings showing Boo with red-orange hair, you can only assume this was the original intent.
As a side note, many of the monsters that cracked me up during the Laugh Factory show at Disney World seemed to come from the concept art of the secondary monsters. I’m sure that wasn’t a coincidence but it was cool to see (what I think) were the inspirations for the characters at Disney World.
Finally, an interesting point that Docter noted was that the “monster world” has no comparison to our world, so he told the original concept artists the idea of the film and then let them roam freely in their imaginations to develop the monsters and their world. It’s this freedom to explore and create that draws (pun intended) people into Pixar and allows the artists to create such beautiful work.
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You can pick up a copy of The Art of Monsters, Inc. on Amazon. The book is technically out of print for the second time, so you can also check the current listings on eBay using our pre-filtered search.