Baron Fig provided this product to me at no charge for review purposes.
Baron Fig is hitting the scene with another artist collaboration, this time with Khoi Vihn, Principal Designer at Adobe. The idea behind Unfinish is that on every spread or two, there is a "visual prompt", a picture, usually a photo, that is only a cut-out portion of the image and it asks you to finish it. The image is printed in non-photo blue and is fairly light. Otherwise, the pages are blank.
From my Askew review, my constant nagging about blank pages, and the fact that I'm not an illustrator in any way, you'd be forgiven if you thought I hated this and was about to walk you through a scathing review. You'd be wrong.
While it's not for me, and I'll never use it as intended, I absolutely love this edition.
Why do I love this and not the Askew? The key here is the way it's presented. This was not part of a subscription. This wasn't funded with my pre-paid dollars. I didn't unwittingly buy this. I was able to decide for myself if this edition was for me. That was my main problem with the Askew. I could see the merit, but not at the expense of my money, especially when up to that point Baron Fig had never done something like that and had promised 4 Confidants over the course of the subscription. To me, the Askew was an art piece in the shape of a Confidant. But I'm not gonna rehash that argument, you can read about that here.
The images on the Unfinish are light enough to be written over if that's what you want. Think of a faded logo on a scratch pad you stole from the bank or your hotel room. You can write over it and it's not a problem. Well, in this case it's a cool, stylized blue and white photo instead of a crappy corporate logo. There are some that are small enough to be written around, even. And none are really big enough to destroy your whole page.
But what about its intended use? As I said above, I'm no artist. I won't be using this for that purpose. But I can see people who will love using this to finish out the drawings in creative ways. I actually can't wait to see the things fans of this book come up with. I would implore Baron Fig to start a hashtag campaign for Instagram and repost some of the best drawings. I hope something catches on, because I'd love to spend 15 minutes scrolling through #Unfinish on Instagram.
The Confidant specs are all there: same size, number of pages, good paper. It handles ink and graphite well. Pencil erases cleanly (with a good eraser) and the pictures on the page don't rub away with it. If you're planning on using this as intended and want to keep your drawings nice, I would recommend not using something like the Squire if you want to use the other side. It's not that it bleeds through, but the show-through on the other side can influence that drawing as well. Colored pencil would be excellent here. The cover is the standard fabric cover, this time in the same light blue as the artwork on the pages, and it's stamped in the bottom corner, imploring you to "Have Fun".
This isn't the first time Baron Fig has experimented with the form, and I'm sure it won't be their last. One of the benefits of the limited edition subscriptions going away is that they no longer are tied down to shape. The next thing could be a pocket notebook, or maybe the large size. Or something totally different. They're not tied to the Confidant or Vanguard flagship size any more, and since limited releases, moving forward, aren't tied to pre-sales and customer expectations, I'd venture a guess that we'll see a lot more fun stuff coming down the pipe from them. Will all of it be my bag? Hell no. This one isn't. But now I get to judge it on its merits alone, instead of also thinking about how it fits into the subscription model.
At $20, this isn't something you buy if you just want a journal to write in. Grab a different Confidant for that. (Really, do it. They're great.) But if you're a doodler, sketcher, or whatever, and you like some neat prompts, by all means, this is worth it.
Also, if you're interested in learning about Mr. Vihn, the artist behind Unfinish, check out his episode of the Eureka podcast.
Available from Baron Fig, $20.