Zak Smith Profile
Last month Akashic Books released The Worst Breakfast coauthored by Zak Smith and China Miéville, with illustrations from Smith on our Black Sheep imprint for young readers. This unique picture book collaboration has resulted in a story both charming and memorable in concept and presentation, driven in large part by Zak Smith’s singular artistic vision. With an aesthetic heavily grounded in in multiple elements (that mix grit, punk, patterns, and abstraction with monotone and vibrant colors), the art of Zak Smith exudes personality and depth, exactly like his illustrations in The Worst Breakfast.
His books, Zak Smith: Pictures of Girls and Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon’s Novel Gravity’s Rainbow, are two remarkable projects in this artist’s body of work. His art has been collected for various exhibitions over thirteen years in galleries in New York and most recently, Los Angeles. The artist is also host of his podcast We Eat Art with cohost John Mejias.
In We Eat Art, Smith and Mejias interview contemporary artists, discussing technique, perspective, and more. The two sit down with writer and fellow artist Molly Crabapple for their latest episode, discussing Crabapple’s beginnings, foray into writing and the interesting career she has had thus far.
We’ve received some phenomenal praise for The Worst Breakfast, including:
“Miéville and Smith’s dialogue is fantastic: witty, smart, with great rhythm that doesn’t sacrifice artful turns of phrase to reach for an internal rhyme . . . Smith’s artwork keeps pace with the text, which the artist sets into little rectangles to contrast with the jaggedly flamboyant paintings that get increasingly manic as the girl goes on, incorporating tentacles and pterodactyls as well as piled-high foodstuffs . . . This should be in the hands of all kids who aren’t easily satiated by tamer picture books and who would engage with a real work of art that they can revisit over and over. None of the artwork is too gross to behold, even for the squeamish, but it does perfectly illustrate the culinary horrors the girl is trying to convey to her sister. A brilliant, original, infinitely rereadable book that can sit alongside Sendak and Dahl.”
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred review
“Miéville lets it rip in this stomping, howling rant about a bad meal of legendary proportions . . . Punk artist Smith’s neatly framed dialogue boxes and crisp black contours have a buttoned-up look, but no: tentacles wave from inside bowls, monsters smile amid mountains of vile sausages, and a blue alien juggles cherry tomatoes. As the pages turn, the towers of bad food grow ever loftier. In the end, a simple tea strainer saves the sisters from another terrible meal. This one’s for families enamored of new words, exotic foods, and strong opinions.”
“Deftly written by the exceptionally talented China Miéville and shockingly but gifted illustrated by Zak Smith, The Worst Breakfast is a unique picture book that will be enduringly popular . . . Very highly recommended.”
—Midwest Book Review
About The Worst Breakfast:
Two sisters sit down one morning and begin describing all of the really gross things that were in the worst breakfast they ever had, until all they can picture is a table piled sky-high with the weirdest, yuckiest, slimiest, slickest, stinkiest breakfast possible. And then they have the best breakfast ever . . . almost.
Posted: Nov 4, 2016
Category: Akashic Insider | Tags: Akashic Insider, art, Breakfast, children, China Miéville, color, Contemporary Art, Gravity's Rainbow, John Mejias, Mix Grit, Modern Art, Molly Crabapple, picture books, Pictures of Girls, Podcasts, Punk, Soundcloud, Thomas Pynchon, We Eat Art, Zak Smith