Art Books, Pixar, Reviews

[ART BOOK REVIEW] ‘The Art of Inside Out’

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Pixar’s latest animated feature, Inside Out, is getting raving reviews from critics, is doing quite well at the box office, and most of you have probably seen the film more than once by now. So now the only thing you have left to do is to learn how the film was made and buy the film’s art book, right? Well, you might want to reconsider that because The Art of Inside Out is not your typical art book.

The Art of Inside Out starts off with a foreword by Amy Poehler, who voices the character Joy in the movie, and an introduction by the film’s director, Pete Docter. In her foreword, Poehler talks about her experience voicing Joy for the movie as well as what Inside Out is about. It was refreshing to have one of the film’s main voice actors write the foreword for the book instead of John Lasseter, who usually does it for Pixar’s books. It was nice to hear Poehler’s take on what her experience was while making this movie and what makes this movie so special for her. The introduction for the book is written by Pete Docter and he discusses some of the challenges of making this movie. He also introduces the unique way the book is organized and why they decided to do it that way.


Perhaps you noticed that there is no writer mentioned on the cover of The Art of Inside Out; that’s because this book has no writer. After reading the book’s foreword and introduction, you’re done with reading. This is because there’s basically no more text in the book. Where most art books are a combination of information and art, this book is basically one big catalog full of art. The filmmakers decided to let the art speak for itself, so the only text you’ll find in the book is the foreword by Amy Poehler, the introduction by Pete Docter, and every once in awhile some text to clarify particular pieces of artwork.

The book is organized in a unique way. Because the movie’s production was so unique and exciting, the filmmakers wanted to share this experience with us. The book takes readers chronologically though the production of Inside Out, and shows how the movie was made from beginning to end.


While I really appreciate that they wanted to try something new, this format simply didn’t work for me. The book has 167 pages full of art, without any explanation about how these designs came to be or when they were made. Most pages feature only one piece of concept art spread out over the entire page where, if they used their space more efficiently, there would be space enough for more art on that same page. Some pages even feature one very simple sketch or one very simple panel from a storyboard that easily could have been scaled down to allow for more art, an entire storyboarded sequence, or some text on the same page. I’m really disappointed that all the blank space in the book wasn’t used more wisely, because we could have had a more in depth look at the making of the movie if it was.

Of course the art is important in an art book, but art books are usually also ‘making of’ books that teach the reader about how a movie was made. Inside Out is a very unique and original film, so I personally really anticipated that I would learn how this film was made and how all the designs came to be. The discovery that there is basically no text or interviews with the artists in the book was very disappointing to me. While the filmmakers wanted to let the art speak for itself, I don’t think this was the right movie. This is especially true considering how unique all the designs are and how interesting it would have been to hear from all the artists who worked on the film about what their inspiration was for all the unique designs and ideas we see in the movie.

Another letdown is that the book is not divided into chapters like most art books are. Most art books break down into sections (like “Characters” and “Worlds”), or particular sequences from the movie. By doing this the books are very accessible. The Art of Inside Out was not divided in any kind of chapters, and that made it very confusing. The book went from early characters sketches of Sadness to designs of Dream Productions to designs of The Train of Thought. Even if they really wanted to show us the production of this movie chronologically, it would have been much better to categorize the artwork by production stages or dates.


Like I said, The Art of Inside Out is not your typical art book. The book is new and refreshing, but unfortunately not always in a good way. The art in this book is magnificent and it’s definitely the reason why you should have this book in your art book collection. While I don’t like the book’s structure, the use of space, and the lack of information about how the film was made, there are definitely some things that make this book stand out from other art books.

I really appreciated that we got to see art from the entire production of the movie (instead of just finalized designs like are shown in some art books). We got to see art from both the very beginning of production and the very end of production. I really like that we didn’t just see some concept art of characters and locations, like in some art books, but that we also got to see sculptures of characters, storyboards, color keys, and animation draw-overs. Some art books tend not to include these, and one of the highlights of this book was that we really got to see the entire process of making Inside Out.

The Art of Inside Out has both its good and bad qualities. While the book doesn’t live up to the hype of the movie, nor previous Pixar art books, it’s worth buying for all the amazing art. While I didn’t learn much about how Inside Out was made, I did get to enjoy the talent of all the amazing artists at Pixar and I think most of you will enjoy it just for that as much as I did.


Purchase: The Art of Inside Out

Amazon: USUK
Amazon (Kindle): 
Book Depository: 

YouTube Review

A special thanks to Chronicle Books, who provided review copies of The Art of Inside Out.

Do you plan to buy The Art of Inside Out?  What do you think of the book’s atypical format?

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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About Max

Max is an animation addict from The Netherlands. His favorite animated movies are Beauty and the Beast and Ratatouille, and he is a big fan of everything Disney, Pixar or DreamWorks related. He loves reading and collecting art books and one day he hopes to work for a major animation studio. Follow his art blog: