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Book Review: The Damage Museum by Vincent Sammy

“Fans of Sammy’s work will find much to enjoy, here – as will any who appreciate the finer side of dark/genre art and illustration.”

tdmcoverHailing from South Africa, freelance illustrator Vincent Sammy is rapidly becoming the go-to guy for all things dark, apocalyptic, challenging and evocative. With this collection, The Damage Museum, Sammy’s work for various publications such as Velocity anthologies and highly regarded fiction magazines like Beware the Dark, Interzone, Black Static and Something Wicked are brought together for the first time.

Alongside previously unpublished illustrations, The Damage Museum also provides glimpses of the artist’s initial line drawings, highlighting the impressive skill with which he utilises colour and post-process digital work to enhance and expand on concepts. The first half of the book presents his coloured work, whilst the latter half dedicates itself to black and white illustration.

Looking through the pages of The Damage Museum, it’s no surprise that Sammy’s work is often used to provide visual cues and mood for literary fiction. His images breathe with a sense of narrative, character and history – like each is a moment glimpsed amidst a wider story that’s currently taking place.

Whether dealing with imagery of the fantastical, the arcane, twisted monstrosities, grizzled survivors or merely a human profile, Sammy’s work is consistently filled with information – with story, untold relationships and wider worlds unseen. Most likely, this is a natural by-product of his obvious penchant for detail – not just when it comes to finer points of texture, but in something as (seemingly) basic as a subject’s expression, direction of gaze or posture.

See, for example, the piece ‘The Witch-Angel of Maggots’. Insanely textured, meticulously coloured and beautifully grotesque, Sammy uses digital techniques to add scratches, grit and a truly textile feel to the work, creating a grim vision that’s as compelling striking as it is monstrous. A later black and white piece, titled “Monsters” is an equally impressive showcase of creature design.

Being an art book, The Damage Museum is, of course, coffee table reading provided for primarily visual enjoyment and, thankfully, there isn’t a single dud piece to be found between the covers. Fans of Sammy’s work will find much to enjoy, here – as will any who appreciate the finer side of dark/genre art and illustration. Many, too, should find inspiration and direction in Sammy’s technique, making this collection highly recommended for any artist hoping to develop such a venerable name for themselves in the field.

GARETH JONES

The Damage Museum is available now from Amazon UK and you can also check out more of Vincent Sammy’s work (some of which is included in this collection) at http://karbonk.deviantart.com/.


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