B+W: Black & White Illustrations by Raymond Biesinger, Raymond Biesinger, 208 pgs, self-published, fifteen.ca, $30
B+W is an impressive slab of a book that covers a 10-year period in the career of Edmonton native and illustrator Raymond Biesinger. Fusing elements of collage, graphic design, type and vector drawings, Biesinger’s minimalist black and white illustrations have been featured in mainstream magazines, such as the New York Times and GQ, many independent journals (he illustrated the stories for Broken Pencil’s 2011 Indie Writers’ Deathmatch), and through his garage rock duo, the Famines. Starting off with a Xeroxed show poster from early 2002, B+W showcases the artist’s progression by year and shows the confidence and comfort in his work despite his self-admitted lack of traditional drawing skills. Predominantly featured are his stylized, humorous takes on infographics, often skewering political or sports figures in Edmonton. The infographic technique is also used quite stunningly in an excerpt from This Is World War One, a book giving a graphic history of the conflict. In addition to the more refined graphic work, B+W also includes Biesinger’s charming yet crude pen and ink sketches for a “behind the scenes” look at the ideas stage for many of his works.
In a day and age where too many illustrators are overusing the amenities of computers and cluttering their work in the process, Biesinger’s technique is welcome and timeless. His work’s simplicity holds an incredible variety and is proof that less is often more. (Matthew Daley)