Superstar artist Damien Hirst wants your kids to learn their ABCs in a very unconventional way — by associating the letters of the alphabet with what some would dub demented works of art. Famous for his diamond-encrusted human skull and $12 million stuffed shark in formaldehyde, Hirst is branching into the world of children’s books with his inaugural, 56 page picture board book for kids. The large format book uses 26 of his controversial art pieces to illustrate the alphabet, printed with non-toxic soy inks to make it safe for even the youngest art critic.
Aside from painting colorful dot paintings and pinning butterflies, Hirst is known for his works using real cows and sheep, which are displayed in oversized vitrines in a sea of formaldehyde. These bisected animals help to illustrate Hirst’s alphabet, with his tiger shark in formaldehyde jauntily representing J for Jaws, and a cow in vitrine representing C, with less morbid pieces like S for one of his spin paintings and O for an orange painting with colorful butterflies.
Along with displaying the artist’s body of work, Hirst’s alphabet book is also heavy on the typography, matching fonts with letters such as A for Albertus and B for Baskerville. Parents without a passion for art may find Hirst’s works to be a little unconventional for a children’s book, but the artist says he created the book to help children learn the power of art at a young age, just as he did himself.
Whether you’re a fan or not, the book also serves as an impromptu catalog of the British artist’s work, which would appeal both to an art collector parent as well as their future art lovers.