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The Art of Looking Sideways

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  6,610 ratings  ·  112 reviews
The Art of Looking Sideways is a primer in visual intelligence, an exploration of the workings of the eye, the hand, the brain and the imagination. It is an inexhaustible mine of anecdotes, quotations, images, curious facts and useless information, oddities, serious science, jokes and memories, all concerned with the interplay between the verbal and the visual, and the lim ...more
Hardcover, 533 pages
Published July 20th 2001 by Phaidon Press (first published July 17th 2001)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  6,610 ratings  ·  112 reviews

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Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
a gigantic coffee-table book, this is one of the greatest purchases i've ever made. opens your eyes to a whole new world with great quotes, anecdotes and more. a must-have for anyone remotely interested in design or art. alan fletcher is one of the greatest designers/thinkers of the last century. ...more
Jun 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is arguably the greatest coffee table book of all time --- but really so much more. There is so much in here, I've spent hours upon hours flipping through this, looking, reading, and still I haven't come close to taking it all in. Very hard to describe, but a sort of everything book that can be opened to any page at any time and consumed however you please.

A great gift for anyone you know with a brain.
Sep 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people too lazy to think for themselves
Shelves: art
Glad I borrowed it from the library. This book I taught me that an awful lot of people can be hoodwinked into paying $49 for a book filled with random thoughts. Not that this amazes me, after all people let themselves be convinced that paying thousands for a blob of blue paint in the middle of an otherwise blank canvas means they possess a deeper than normal understanding and appreciation of "real" art. It's sorta pretentious if you ask me, and the silent implication is there that if you give it ...more
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I was teaching art and design, this book became the 'benchmark" (just kidding) for the logbooks and journals the students were supposed to keep. And then, amazed at the content of many of the journals that were emerging, I would tell those students that one day they would be able to bring out their own versions of "The Art of Looking Sideways". And I really look forward to that, because 99.9 per cent of my students were Indian and there needs to be a book of this sort coming out of India wi ...more
Apryl Anderson
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
A line that takes itself for a walk and arrives as a book. I wish I'd thought of it first.

Whenever I'm feeling mundane or stuck-in-a-rut, this is the book to reach for. It doesn't take long until my brain is over-stimulated by it, so this book is useful to generate ideas. I keep my journal handy, because something always sprouts... maybe someday you'll be discussing the tattered pages of my imagination all printed and bound... come to think of it, I'll be kind to you and publish my pensées and
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
High-brow magic eye for "creative types." Chapters like imagination, ideas, inspiration. Some interesting things in here, like learning that anteaters don't dream, and other, pretty pedestrian stuff formatted to look like it's anything worthwhile. Paul McCartney wrote "Yellow Submarine" right before he went to bed, really, who would have guessed. I don't know. I feel like shit like this just flatters the idea that every one of us is a genius when really what it's doing is over-explaining the who ...more
Dimitris Hall

Above: a photograph of my own copy of The Art of Looking Sideways.

This book is a valuable collection of experiences, quotes, designer-gasms, observations and insights into life, the aesthetic, artistic and general human experience, by late master graphic designer Alan Fletcher.

I got it more than a year ago like new (yes, it took me this long to go through its 1000+ pages reading/enjoying on and off) for around €30. Most of that must have been the shipping costs: when it arrived I really cou
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Holy crap.

This book is mindblowing. J had to forcibly remove me from the store where first I was lucky enough to lay eyes upon this astounding thing.

It's not tidy, but that's okay. It's a not-at-all-completely-random collection of thoughts and sketches from a very thoughtful person, a visual person who can also wield the words. It's as inspirational as _The Engineer's Illustrated Thesaurus_, but in a wildly different way. Between the two of them there's no limit to creative possibility.
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Well, saying it's the best book in the world might be emotional, but it's definitely a book you don't need to be in the mood for, you can open it any moment any day and spend some quality time, learning or being entertained. Take it to a desert island and you'll never get bored. More than that, you can fight off wild animals with it, because it's quite big and heavy. ...more
Amy Palmer
May 05, 2014 rated it liked it
In short a good book that is overpriced.

It has a lot in it, it is very big. However I found it a little pointless at first not knowing what really to do with it. Being a Graphic Design Student I was told that this is a must have, however I'd say it's OK. That's it.

It has 72 chapters with a few quotes, images and titles like "Colour," "Noise," "Chance," "Camouflage,".

The images are interesting and quotes can be inspiring however this book is so hard to get a solid reference as some quotes are no
Jan 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Quotes, anecdotes, fine and applied arts of all kinds. British visual designer Alan Fletcher gathers together 534 pages of fascinating imagery and exposition. A little treasure box of a book that explores, in a "jackdaw" manner, curious phenomenon and interesting facts. ...more
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Bottomless source of inspiration.
Jun 09, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Whenever I'm feeling mundane or stuck-in-a-rut, this is the book to reach for. It doesn't take long until my brain is over-stimulated by it, so this book is useful to generate ideas. I keep my journal handy, because something always sprouts ...more
Frank Calberg
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book is made in a highly creative way. For example, several different colours are used as page background throughout the book. Also, letters have many different sizes. A large variety of images throughout the book contribute to making the user experience beautiful.

Some extracts I found useful.

Who are we?
- Page 8: Results of gene analysis show we all descend from one African Eve. It is highly probable that you and your neighbour share an ancestor who lived wthin the last 500 years.
- Page 113:
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is all about content. How Content can occasionally be so strong that it beats the saying ’picture speaks the 1000 words’. The idea of laying off the top ideas that your brain thinks in the first go.
Kris Gösser
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm surprised I didn't like this book as much as the ocean of 5'stars do. I'm sure it's great to most, but for me it wasn't the type of book I was looking for and, frankly, hoping for.

Here's my main issue with the book: its Job To Be Done is pegged as a source of inspiration when one is creatively in a rut. Generally you're in a rut because life has gotten helter-skelter. The problem is this book is nothing short of an ADHD nightmare. Not only do stories and quotes jump from one to the other wit
Feb 27, 2008 rated it liked it
I use this book sometimes to break the logjam in my brain. It's design and graphics are useful for just that -- especially when I'm on autopilot, surf-the-internet, must-read-every-blog-ever mode. It's nice to pull it out and flip through it and soon-enough my brain wants to go and have a more wholesome and productive time. The only problem is that recently the book has started to feel a little dated, or just it feels a bit too familiar. The same publisher also has a set of cards, and I've been ...more
Nov 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sucked
Thus book was the most tiresome brick I have ever purchased. The book is the authors hoardings that just scream look at how cool and unconventional I am because I scrawl words with a pen and hey presto, art happens. He's like the Rupi Kaur of contemporary art.
If it was just his curating of modern art, older movements and popular history without his ego and attempts at art it would have been okay.
Text sideways isn't clever. I was bored. And art should never be boring.
Aug 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art
This is one of my favorite books ever. Fletcher does an amazing job of merging ideas, images, design, art, found objects...you get the idea. I suggest reading it sideways--not from beginning to end, but jumping around to whatever captures your attention.
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. LOVE it. LOVE IT! Great for everything from pondering to inspiration, you can start wherever you like in this enormous tome and always find something interesting within a few pages. From the content to the design, this one is a keeper I go back to again and again.
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
This is so heavy I'm going to get Popeye arms... ...more
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: timeless
Every time I open this book I feel awed and inspired. And it makes me incredibly happy. Love it.
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the best coffee table books (one of three on our coffee table today) - that inspires you to question why things work a certain way.
Oct 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A splendid compendium of information about the visual -- tricks, facts, ideas, questions, quotes, factoids, notes, stories, and more. Something to peruse for years, to read while having coffee or tea, to dip into when stuck, to binge on when seeking new ideas. I'm so glad I was finally able to find a used copy of this book for an almost-reasonable price, as its legend had proceeded my finding it and copies were going for hundreds of dollars in some bookstores. If you see one for less than $100, ...more
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
i read the book all the time; i flip back and forth to random pages and enjoy the colors and typography,

my favorite page is probably the page of the swimming pool (96) the middle aged thai man says his trick to buoy oneself in the pool: do nothing, be yourself
May 18, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I feel like I want to be anonymous here as I confess to you that this is the only book I have ever wanted to cut into. It’s genius. The snippets. The pages. The graphics. The content. So many messages for so many people. And OH SO MUCH FUN!
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Best book ever.
If you need inspiration, just open it randomly.
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Whether you are a graphic designer or not, this book is for keeps. It opens up your mind and is an absolute delight to read!
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Art of Looking Sideways is the ultimate guide to visual awareness,
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
is book pretty good
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Alan Fletcher was one of the most influential and best loved graphic designers of his time. In 1959, after success in America, he settled in London. He co-founded Fletcher, Forbes, Gill in 1962, which became renowned for sophisticated graphic design and enduring wit. Their branding for Reuters was used for over 30 years. In 1971, Fletcher co-founded Pentagram, then in 1991 set up his own company. ...more

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