4:00 pm EST, December 7, 2015

‘The Napkin Art of Tim Burton’ book review: An encouragement to create art anywhere

By Karen Rought | Edited by Donya Abramo

The Napkin Art of Tim Burton: Things You Think about in a Bar is a strange and delightful look into the mind of this famed artist.

things you think about in a bar 2

Whereas The Art of Tim Burton is a more refined look at Burton’s eclectic talents, Napkin Art is a more hurried, raw experience. But as Burton states in the book’s introduction (which is the only text to be found in the small tome), “It is not so much about the result but the process.”

As such, Things You Think about in a Bar does show us Burton’s process. His trademark style is ever-present, with those strange proportions, angular faces, and eyes with pinpoint irises. They’re at once beautiful and haunting, which is the essence of Tim Burton’s art when you get right down to it.

tim burton art

Most interestingly, of course, is the fact Burton has used a napkin as his canvas. These are not all white, pure, and unblemished with polished renderings of characters found in the artist’s head. Instead, we see napkins that have been used, the stains sometimes having been incorporated into the actual drawing. Though the majority are white, some of the colored napkins paint a much more intense and dramatic picture, as do the instances when he apparently breaks out the colored markers and adds more detail to his sketches.

Aside from sometimes incorporating the logos found stamped on the napkin, Burton also occasionally includes his bar food in the image. Pretzels are transformed into body parts and cherries and turned into large, blood red eyes.

time burton sketches

Though the concentration here is clearly on the process, it also depicts Burton’s mood and environment. You often wonder if he is sketching from life or memory, and what each particular glimpse into his mind means. You start to create your own stories from his sketches, which are often as dynamic as they are simple, and isn’t that what art is all about? Hundreds of miles away, Tim Burton may be sitting in a bar sketching a character we could see in a future film, cementing it in ink as we flip through similar renderings and try to create our own movies from his artwork.

For those who have been long-time fans of Tim Burton, you’ll be pleased to know that not only does Napkin Art provide what could be a future character in an as-yet-unmade movie, it also provides you a look at beloved characters we’ve seen before.

The Napkin Art of Tim Burton: Things You Think about in a Bar is available now. You can purchase it from Steeles Publishing.

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