The Shape of Ideas: An Illustrated Exploration of Creativity (Hardcover)

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What happens if you study orthodontia, but can’t stop drawing, then post clever comics about writing and reading on a website to be shared all around the world called And you live in Wichita?

If you’re good, periodicals like The New Yorker and the New York Times will find you and publish your drawings. And because of that exposure, and your ability to take a concept or complex idea and make it come alive in colorful drawings and simple text, you will be chosen for inclusion in the Best American Comics Anthology of 2013. Bonus if the book editor behind the success of the Wimpy Kid series will find you and offer you a book deal.   

This is the story of Grant Snider, and his new book, The Shape of Ideas.

The book is organized into 10 chapters, derived from a comic defining Genius; “Part inspiration, part perspiration” makes up 29%, “daily frustration and desperation” are 23.9%, “aspiration and improvisation,” and so on.    

In the timely comic Message to a Graduate, Snider uses circles to illustrate hoops we jump through to be educated, from a ring of fire, to endless circles of tedium and boredom, to what happens next--creating a new hoop! Another comic in the improvisation chapter is called “Quality of Line.” Do you want a line with character, or spontaneity? One that’s lively, or one with grace...or life, or one that is all your own?  

The Shape of Ideas is a book about looking, process, struggle, and how one creative orthodontist in Wichita has no choice but to create, and has done so since he can remember.

— Sarah Bagby

About the Author

Grant Snider is an orthodontist by day and an artist by night. His comics have been featured in the Kansas City Star, the New York Times, and the New York Times BookReview, as well as The Best American Comics 2013. He lives in Wichita, Kansas, with his wife and two children. Visit him online at

Praise For…

"'What do ideas look like? Where do they come from?'... Surprisingly, Snider’s beautifully composed cartoons have cogent answers to those questions — or if they don’t, he’s at least an urgent asker. He’s created something unique: a synthesis of comics, philosophy, and poetry: a thoughtful new way of packaging eternal ideas in cartoon boxes."

— The Los Angeles Review of Books

"The tongue-in-cheek wit and self-deprecating style make this a pleasant introduction to the joy and frustration of making any kind of art, and the beautifully designed presentation—with a charming die-cut cover—is a fine proof of concept."

— Publishers Weekly

"Grant Snider’s The Shape of Ideas is a creative kaleidoscope of humor, insight, and truth. An inventive window into the creative experience filled with hope and encouragement for daydreamers and doodlers, sketchers and scribblers, inventors, explorers, and spinners of yarns."

— Clare Vanderpool

“...a lighthearted visual examination of the labor behind the creative process.”

— Hyperallergic

"Grant Snider's work delivers introspection, humor, and inspiration in visually stunning drawings. They are a colorful look into the creative process—from the moments of quiet contemplation to the days of frenzied desperation."

— Susan Cain

"A friendly, encouraging depiction of the creative process, with its highs and lows, from a comics creator."

— The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

"The Shape of Ideas is a book about looking, process, struggle, and how one creative orthodontist in Wichita has no choice but to create, and has done so since he can remember."

— NPR Wichita

Product Details
ISBN: 9781419723179
ISBN-10: 1419723170
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Publication Date: May 9th, 2017
Pages: 144
Language: English