Last year, I started to put some serious effort into learning about influences. I’m starting to get a better handle on the ‘family tree’ of people that influence my own ideas and work. Two people in this tree are Van Neistat and Tom Sachs, the authors of ‘Nautical Challenge’.

Tom and Van are both artists - Tom’s focus is mostly on sculpture, while Van’s focus is film. They have a long history of working together, and in 2008 collaborated on a story that was woven through different episodes of the HBO series ‘The Neistat Brothers’.

You can watch extracts from the TV series in the supercut below. It’s a boat race that sets the scene for playful rivalry between the two friends.

In 2013, ‘Nautical Challenge’ was printed to accompany Tom Sachs' exhibition “Nautical Challenge and other Voodoo” at Baldwin Gallery. The book opens with a letter each from Van and Tom, and contains a collection of photos from the exhibit and stills from the film. Being a couple of years late, and half a planet away, it was the closest I can get to seeing the exhibit in person. The layout perfectly shows off the props and boats installed at the Gallery. However the layout doesn’t work quite as well for the stills from the film. It is the only thing that holds this book back from scoring a perfect five.

Stills from the video are often used in a double-page spread throughout the book. They provide a great blast of full colour to offset the other pages containing white space and sketches. However they struggle to translate into the printed pages of the book. If the frame is centered on a subject, there often ends up being a massive crease through the point of interest. Here. Let me show you.

Photo a page crease in nautical challenge, obscuring Tom Sachs' reaction to a taunt.

This is a still from my favourite scene, where Van taunts Tom with a scale model. The crease obscures Tom’s reaction to Van’s gift. But really? Page creases in a book? That is all there is to complain about? You will have to excuse me while I sip on this glass of cool clean drinking water while I ponder other first world problems.

This book made an awesome gift, and as Australians say, it is going straight to the pool room.

Nautical challenge is still avaiable from Amazon and Printed matter. It gets 4.5 out of 5.

4.5 stars out of 5.


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