Over the past decade, Canadian graphic artist Marian Bantjes has taken the contemporary design world by storm with her rich, labor-intensive ornamentation. Bantjes began her career as commercial designer, yet famously eschewed corporate gigs in favor of self-initiated works, calling herself a “lapsed graphic designer.” She recently spoke at TED about this transition, and her devotion to creating meaningful, beautiful work that pleases both herself and her clients.
Her first book, I Wonder (The Monacelli Press), is an illuminated manuscript in every sense of the phrase. It features Bantjes’ artful meanderings through life, love and design during a 15-month period. Each illustration was designed specifically for the book — using every kind of media from rose petals to macaroni. Her quirky, quizzical writing graces each page. Bantjes often invents an entire graphic language for a piece, which requires the reader to engage on a higher level to decipher her work.
With the book’s insistence on narrative, and focus on typography, the result combines the best of two worlds. It’s a readable collection of smart, visually-intense short stories, and a design book that will likely never leave your coffee table. Here are some of our favorite spreads from I Wonder.