Few icons can unite Byron, skate boarding, Damien Hirst and quilting. The skull, however, is not just any symbol, as shown in Faye Dowling’s ominous sounding new book, The Book of Skulls.
Many things to many people, the skull’s iconic status resonates deep into pop and subcultures alike, becoming an emblem for Goths, skaters, artists, rockers, sartorialists and artists alike.
Designed by Praline, the gorgeous book draws together skulls from different centuries and disciplines, from Alexander McQueen accessories, to the two Damiens of the skull in art – Damien Hirst’s famous diamond encrusted work, For the Love of God and Damien L’homme’s haunting 1641 painting, Vanite.
Of course, the dangerous world of rock and roll justifiably occupies a fair few pages, from the The Grateful Dead, with their terrifyingly brilliant 1966 Skeleton and Roses poster by Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley; to Kiss and The Misfits.
The book provides a broad yet enlightening overview of the visual cult of the skull, drawing together music, street art, graphic design, and fashion, alongside more in-depth case studies on skull iconography, such as for The Mexican Day of the Dead and Frank Sadliek’s Hells’ Angels skull insignia.
We love Noah Scalin’s Skullphabet typeface design, illustrator James Joyce’s Dead Cool illustration. Among the other designers, artists and illustrators in the book are Wes Lang, Shepard Fairey, Chaz Boroquez, Noma Bar, Vivienne Westwood and Noah Scalin.
The Book of Skulls by Faye Dowling is published this week by Laurence King Publishing priced £9.95