I must say that I am really privileged to become an illustrator. I anticipate that most of the intelligent artists of the older century were illustrators but not “pulverised artists”. And I am upset that illustration in the form of a profession is, today, under severe criticism. And that formulation threatens all of us who make images for a living.
The saneness for this criticism is not purely based on the technological involvement which is dynamical in more areas of our lives today. It is our own incapability as illustrators to present those who regularly root for abstractions. The most unconcealed are the agencies who initiate a gold mine for themselves by “portion” illustrators market their work via re-use and house freed sales. These agencies are creating profits for themselves in the low constituent, with ostensibly has no concern for the long-term association with the artists who have been the compliant “victims” that admit to refrain them in their careers.
When I acquired a professional career several years ago, it was not odd for someone to tell only a few artists actually devote dimension to nonindustrial apiece creator’s calling by hunting for new markets, targeting art directors, doing particular PR activity, and so on. Today, it is writer apt for umpteen agents to person their artists buy pages in sourcebooks and waits for the sound of jewellery. Many agents’ represent around 20 or solo talents. It doesn’t tolerate a maths wiz to sell that if your agent has 20 artists and totality a 40-hour per week, you are receiving a common of 2 hours a period of that cause’s minute. That is not delegacy, it’s brokering. There are a sort of rattling penalty reps today, but there are also too umpteen who simply track benefit of their artists by not gift.
For making a living, illustrators allowed themselves to be duped by the publishers of different sourcebooks and directories into believing that they are doing them a service. The work-for-hire contracts that some of us had signed far decrease our power to test what happens to our images. Again, the illustrator is allowing himself to be misused because the image he has created is of no use for him. And now, we add to all this support agencies that trade the illustrators’ job at discounted prices and skilfulness the rights to that totality.
The result proves the eroding of the mart for our product. The toll of experience in this region has redoubled individual nowadays, and yet the outgo of demonstration has stayed active the unvaried. In element, ad agencies now can get art for lower from merchandise agencies, thereby increasing their profits. There is a way to penalise this condition. Illustrators necessity to digest mechanism of their own destinies and but respond to be usurped welfare of. There is cipher false with merchandising existing images for re-use, but why not postulate that the agency’s request the going grade for art based on its use, refrain the curb and the rights to the art in the keeping of the creator, and maybe smooth puddle an labour to growth the terms of demo?
Rather than allowing furnishes agencies to ask empowerment that most artists’ agents need. In this way, carry agencies might actually transform businesses that refrain illustrators and goodness the marketplace as a whole. Winning advantage of grouping never produces tall lasting relationships. It only creates resentment.
Technology has brought tremendous change in the way illustration is viewed today. Digital media, especially Photoshop is the main reason for that. It has influenced the view of the art directors and designers in a big way. Earlier, graphic designers had to depend on the illustrator’s skills and visual acuity. Now, with the introduction of illustration software it is easy to make an illustration without the help of an illustrator. By reading this you might feel that Photoshop has replaced all the illustrators. Not really. Illustrators who were smart enough to foresee the high jacking of art by digital tools and software learned and started using Photoshop as one of their work tool. But still the threat of replacement is far stronger than any other technological development occurred in history.
Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why:
- Before Photoshop, alternatives such as collage and montage were used instead of painting and drawing. Some of the graphic designers used these replacements occasionally to avoid the service of the illustrators’ altogether. After the arrival of Photoshop this is a very common practice.
- Prior to the availability of Photoshop, the content of the illustrations were closely followed by the graphic designers and art directors. They worked closely with the illustrators but avoided their presence from the image- making procedure. But today images are changed even without the permission of the illustrators using Photoshop.
- Art directors and graphic designers were reluctant to use stock art for illustrating articles and advertisements. Websites and stock art began to grow with the help of digital platform. Due to this illustrations faced major setback. Now, stock images are easily accessible and inexpensive and are a hassle free substitute for original illustrations.
- With stock art, the need for originality in illustration has mitigated. Some of the stock houses are hiring artists on low fees for creating generic concepts in different styles that may have been created by veterans in illustration. Since these stock images are created without any consultation with the art directors or graphic designers the young artists will miss the opportunity to learn and fine tune their skills by interacting with these professionals.
- Since illustrations can be purchased online catalogue as easy as buying a video tape or movie young art directors and graphic designers won’t be able to develop a fruitful relationship with the illustrators.
- Finally, the lesser the number of illustrators employed by the designers the fewer will be the demand for original illustrations.
The method and style used for illustration has changed over the years due to the constant shift in art and technology. For example, have a look at the course of illustration during the beginning of this century. You can see that illustration was used for visually presenting a concept which worked as a supplement to the main concept. It was either considered as a story narrating medium or a complimentary element. From there the face of illustrations changed from the role of supporting to mainstream digital form.
Although, still the state of illustration is still uncertain with the emergence of digital technology it is trying to survive of its own. To bring illustration once more to the mainstream the illustrators should rethink. They should see how illustration has evolved and developed over the years and what is the role played by it today in all the popular media.
It is interesting. When someone asks me what I do for a living, I tell them that I am working as an illustrator. The blank expression on most of their faces is worth watching. Some of them even thought I work for the children’s books. Illustration nowadays is treated as a poor relation of graphic design. Many people have the misapprehension that illustrators are graphic designers. So I hope that this blog will bring some change to the perception of people towards the art of illustration and illustrators.
The problem does not lie in the way illustration is understood because there has been no understanding at all. If we look back to the first few years of the twentieth century, there won’t be any sort of confusion regarding the role of illustrators. During that period the newspapers, magazines, posters, advertisements, and editorial pages were all accompanied by illustrations. For many of the young artists these materials were enough to get inspired and encouraged to take up the path of illustration. It was a time when everyone knew about illustration.
At that time, if you asked anyone outside the designing industry and their clients about graphic designing, then you can expect the same blank look that I received before. During that period self promotion was not that much in practice and the artists themselves prefer to remain in the background. Illustration is a piece of art that was trained, published and understood during the early periods. But it is not clear how the knowledge about illustration disappeared entirely from the conscience of people so fast.
Today debates are going on about how illustration became marginalised. And the blame is put on the lousy art directors, blind editors, greedy stock agencies, and many others who don’t take the art of illustration seriously and threat it as a commodity. It is difficult to say when the whole situation for illustration changed. I tried to analyse when the change happened by scanning through my professional tenure but in vain. Images are used everywhere- newspapers, magazines, websites, advertisements, posters, etc. Those images are worth money.
But the people who purchased images invested huge amount on images that had less value. Originality of images was not a criterion for choosing and investing and this brought a huge change to the way illustrations were viewed. During this time, the illustrations on magazine covers and advertisements were replaced by photographs but there were few exceptions. Even during the golden period of illustrations, there were a few magazines and newspapers that opted for photographs on the front and inside pages instead of illustrations. Celebrity journalism has had a huge impact on all kinds of publications. But still there is demand for excellent caricatures.
It is thought that using photographs is risk free. One of the famous art directors I know who works for a reputed newspaper has told me that the marketing people are no allowing them to use illustrations in their newspaper since it irritates the readers. This is not an isolated case. This situation is very common in most of the publications that worries a lot about investment. Since people are more concerned about taking less risk there is an increase in the use of stock illustration. This only results in the enrichment of the stock houses.
There are few who still use illustrations but are doing so in terms of contractual demands. According to the contract, the artist will have no right on what he or she has created. But they don’t understand that they cannot gain any profit by buying the right of the image from the artists. Even if there is it is minimal. We all know that the rates of pages have increased from time to time. This has caused a major problem. Another factor that has affected the growth of illustration is the increase in the use of television and internet.
Out previous generations used to spend money on newspapers and magazines for receiving information. Now, we can get it through television, internet and mobile phones. It should be admitted with guilt that the illustrators have failed to adapt their work to this new media. But designers have succeeded to do so and they are effectively using the new media to showcase their talent. But illustrators still think of the printed pages while the public has moved on to the digital and electronic media. There are many other factors that worked in diminishing the value of illustration. At the moment, the growth of illustration has stagnated.
Despite all these conditions, there are a few illustrators who are striving to prove that illustration has a unique character and value. These bright and skilled artists are trying to prove a point through their illustrations. Interpreting life, visually, is something that illustrators do perfectly. Some of the illustrators have found a new outlet in the form of illustration or graphic novels and animation where illustrations are extensively used to tell stories. Others have gone to start new publication companies.
Web has developed as a major source of all kinds of information and entertainment. When you open a website, there are pictures everywhere. But there are not enough illustrations, not yet. For the illustration to survive in the years to come there has to be a solution. Technology has changed the way we think and view the world. But still people enjoy the old and new things in the same way. So how can we lift illustration from the ashes? I think we all need to sit together, all the veteran and young artists, and find a practical solution to the problem that illustration is facing.
Presenting a 3D object in 2D form in the virtual world is called 3D illustration. Here, the role played by the illustrator is to convey the concept and design of the object in a rendered perspective in the best possible manner. 3D illustration is used mainly for animating and designing. It is created in such a format that it can be used in any resolution based on the client’s requirement. 3D illustration has come a long way from its beginning stage. With the arrival of digital tools it has certainly changed a lot. Nowadays, 3D digital illustration is used in print, television, advertisements, movies, cartoons, websites, etc.
3D illustration is used mainly for presentations. Modelling or designing a building for presentation and analysis is very different from that of creating a cartoon character. While creating a cartoon character the illustrator has an advantage. People have no idea how an imaginary character will look like. So the illustrator can work according to his imagination. But this is not possible when designing a building. People have a preconceived notion about the structure of the building. So the illustrator has to present the building in such a way that it will meet those expectations.
Technology has intervened in illustration so far and wide that instead of traditional tools digital tools are being used for creating illustrations. Today computer visualisation is considered very effective for presenting the design ideas. The software available in the market today can be helpful for the illustrators who have good aesthetic sense in presenting concepts. The involvement of technology in architectural rendering has brought more clarity and accuracy to the representation of architectural designs. It enables the illustrator as well as the architect to connect with the client easily. The traditional form of architectural rendering includes hand drawn images by the architects, whereas, the designs created today are with the help of computer in digital format.
3D digital illustration is a very recent form of art. There are many unexplored areas left in this field that lies undiscovered. So far the software used for creating 3D images has created wonders. The images have been eye-catching and impressive. Since it is mostly an unexplored filed you need the help of an experienced and well trained 3D digital artist to create a 3D image. The digital technology used for creating 3D illustration is always changing. Making 3D illustrations of buildings using digital tools often create design problems. Most of the time, this problem is overlooked in the designing process. There are many ways for creating a 3d model.
Everyone has their own perception of creating the same model. But in the case of architectural designing it is different. There are very few methods that you can follow to design a structure. It will be good if every illustrator masters 3D Max for architectural rendering and creating 3D illustrations. The basic understanding of the tools in the software will be very useful while creating 3D scenes. Modelling is only the first step of making Architectural Visualization. The next step that follows in 3D illustration is the use of materials and textures. They provide a platform for adding colour and surface qualities to the design. Textures are formed either by scanning, painting, photographs, or actual materials projected on the 3D surface.
The next thing that comes after material and texture is lighting and rendering. To perform this task requires a keen eye for colour and tone. The illustrator should also have an idea about the limitations of lighting systems. To achieve perfection in creating architectural illustrations, you should have a basic knowledge on photography. This will help you to understand the use of light and how lighting can bring changes to an image. Studying cinematography would also be helpful because it is all about light in motion. Before you use lighting for illustrating 3Dyou need to master the types of light. You will require a solid grasp of the effects that different types of lights bring to the textures.
Have you heard about the painter Ad Reinhardt? Centuries ago this painter declared that the pictures he made on black-on-black canvases were the “last pictures which anyone can make.” Many of the critics agreed with him and said that his masterpieces would make a mark in history. Unfortunately, this did not happen. After him came many artist who were as talented as Ad Reinhardt was. Art continued its journey.
From the day when the deadline for doomsday was pronounced, modern art also closely resembled the doomsday cult. The hard core believers of doomsday woke up one day and found that the sun has come up and the prophet how prophesised the end of the world has also disappeared. They realised that they all need to find something to do to move on in their lives. This predicament is now known as Postmodernism.
Let’s have a look at some of the basic terms related to art and postmodernism. If you are an artist it will be easy for you to understand since you are familiar with these terms. I have explained the terms in a simple and understandable manner so that the common readers can also get a grasp of the terms.
In future, the term ‘modern’ will be used to date something similar to the term “Baroque” or “Romanesque”. Modern art will denote “the kind of art they did in the twentieth century.”
It was a movement started by Picasso and Braque to differentiate their work of art from what Cézanne did. It is the critics who named this movement Cubism. It modern art, It is necessary to name any art movement. So far, Cubism has been the most important art movement in modern art, for the same reason that John D is still the most important Rockefeller. All the other movements that happened after Cubism were similar to it or close to it but not beyond it. Since they didn’t make any impact you can easily forget about them.
This was a movement started by the intellectuals. It was started with the intention of replacing traditional forms of art with modern world of machinery, speed, violence, and public relations. This movement proves that we should be careful of what intellectuals wish for because ultimately we might get it.
The artists who belonged to this category were ironists. The artist these ironists followed was Marcel Duchamp and his most famous masterpiece was a urinal. Duchamp ended his life playing chess. He claimed that he was making an art statement. Dada artists are exempt from the general rule that ironists are the biggest victims of their own irony.
This is a very primitive term. Formerly, this was an art movement which cannot be distinguished from everyday life.
With the end of the Second World War, the world saw the United States emerging into a superpower. Many of the American companies that did regional businesses become large international corporations. They attained world class status in minimal amount of time and adopted abstract names. There was no piece of art at that time that could fit in these corporate organisations. This is when Abstract Expressionism emerged as a form of interior decoration.
Rich people belonging to aristocratic society love to spend huge amount of money with exquisite paintings on their walls. Years later, you can see imitations of the same paintings on calendars. But in a democratic society things work in a different way. Here, art is everywhere. You can even find it on the cover of a matchbook. Then, the same art will as expensive imitations after few years.
New Wave Art:
It was in the eighties that the New Wave Art’s rage began. Now, it can only be seen in museums. If you see an art in black-and-pink frame that’s New Wave Art.
It is quite common that many people like to decorate their walls with designer graffiti. Even though, most of the people would prefer to rub off the graffiti from their walls. But on a personal note, I would say that it is a different way of expressing yourself in a thrilling way.
Presently, realistic paintings are valued based on the craftsmanship of the artists. In the future when art will come in the form of packaged software, then realism art will lose its importance.
It is done purely for commercial gain. You can say that it is delivered to the concerned person by stapling a bill on the outside.
Fine art is just opposite to commercial art. In case of commercial art you will think how much you can get on your work where as it’s just opposite regarding fine art.
These days, at every corner you can see an artist. People around the world who express their feelings through different mediums are all artist. If all these people are artists then why are illustrators kept aside? Why are they treated as outsiders? They too express feelings through their illustrations.
Norman Rockwell said “if a picture is going badly, put a dog in it. If it is going really bad, put a bandage on the dog’s paw.” This is the most basic principle behind victim art.
Personally, I don’t approve of tattoo. But I think they can bring some sort of improvement in some people especially those who lurk around tattoo parlours.
For modern artists, style is one of the most valuable assets. This is the main reason why every year you hear about reports on styles being stolen.
Still there are some traditional artists employed by art schools. They continue to paint like members of the Ash Can School, with earnest First World War realism.
Some hundred years ago, French bohemians declared that the main purpose of art is to make the middle classes shocked and astonished. This was called Avant-Garde. Back then, it would have proved to be a great idea. But it won’t work now. This is because the middle class is not paying any attention. They are busy talking about others affairs and life.
Break the Rules:
Rules are there to be sometimes broken. In modern art, rules are One of the things not enough people appreciate about modern art is that its philosophy can be summed up as a Burger King commercial.
Rules were very important to traditional craftsmen. These rules are later rewritten by some genius minds. In modern art, this refining part is always common. Someone or the other always redefines it all the time. These changes to art might have made another Renaissance in our era. But these changes came from egoistic minds instead of genius minds. So, postmodern art is more of a narcissistic one than a heroic kind.
Some modern artists work based on an art theory. The whole art crated by them may be based on that theory. Some of these works displays only the theory instead of the art. This can be seen as a sensible approach because the purpose of using these theories in art is to bring some changes or redefine the current theories of art.
Every piece of art done by an artist has an element of self expression. It is the part that gives the work of artists its own individuality.
These are some of the few ways artists have been expressing themselves for the past few centuries till now.
We may at times oppose art but when it comes to business it can fetch a fortune.
Years ago, some of the magazines paid huge amount ($ 800 to $ 1,600) to the artists to work on a single page of illustration, movie posters, and complex illustrations for magazines. But now the price charged for illustration has gone down drastically. From the peak amount the prices have slumped to one-fifth of what they were at that time.
Why has this happened? This is a very important question since the answer to this question will give an insight to how much our profession has changed.
1.) THE DECLINE OF PRINT
A few decades ago, we depended on print for information. It was the dominant medium. But now this has changed. Young artists see the world of print as a stepping stone to start their career. Their main eye is on the electronic media. Most of them don’t have any background in print and they don’t take it that seriously. Most of these young artists work under the superiors who consider illustrations as mere filler.
We can do very little to change the role played by the print in society. But we can do many things to improve the attitude of the artists to bring some change.
2.) ANTITRUST LAW
There is one thing that bothers us the most. It is price setting. It is never easy for artists to get together and set price for artworks. It is possible for Conde Nast to put together many magazines and enforce mean contracts to hike the price. But if the same example is followed by two artists to set price for a cover page then it is sure that they will violate the rules. Even if we learn collectively about fixing a price for work and making contracts, each artist must negotiate alone. This shows that no artist is better than his or her reputation.
Corporate companies will give high price to reputed illustrators. But this can do a good amount of damage to the illustrators who are on the verge of starting or building a career. The burden of competition falls on them and this situation is utilised by the corporate companies to reduce prices.
3.) ART SCHOOLS
Every year, thousands of students pass out from art schools. But they are given limited information on art and business training. In order to survive an artist should be equipped with both these skills. Students are helpless. They need to pay off the student loans. So instead of saying ‘no’, they would be forced to take up the entry level jobs offered to them even if the salary is quite low. It would be beneficial for the art students if the institutions are ready to give proper training to them on improving their skill in arts and how to sell their skills in the market.
4.) SOURCE BOOKS
During the period when the role of media was less the only way for artists to get exposure in the national market is through competitions juried by veteran artists or experts. The juries scanned each and every work and found the odd ones who are armatures and copycats.
Sourcebooks are a great way to find a good artist. It gives opportunity for the entry-level artists to advertise their work. But this has also put a cap on the prices. If a client cannot afford a top artist he can look in the source book and find the appropriate person that suits his needs.
When the illustrators are unable to fix the prices of their own, then the prices stagnate.
Three decades ago, art directors and critics have discouraged clones. They would say “Your work looks like Bob Peak. We can afford Bob Peak. Why should we hire you?”
The situation is different today. Now, they would discourage Bob Peak: “We have a hundred guys who can paint like you. We can’t explain to the client why you’re worth more.”
6.) PRICING AND ETHICAL GUIDELINES
The guidelines on price published by the Graphic Artists Guild are a valuable resource but it is often misconceived by the clients. Many have the notion that the prices quoted are the maximum fees. But these guidelines are nothing more than a reflection of the current price in the market. So what you need to do is to base your fees depending on the current average. This way you can preserve your status quo.
It’s high time to rethink on these guidelines.
7.) A SEMI-PROFESSIONAL WORK FORCE
Without considering that the market is shrinking, art schools over produce and dump the graduates into the market. Thus we are producing illustrators who do part-time jobs too. To succeed in such a competitive environment the young artists needs to have talent and originality. Some may pass the test of time but some fail badly.
But there are many agencies today that offer work to these young artists. But it comes at a price. Sometimes these artists have to copy a bestseller or work against their ethics. These artists too are offered little money. Due to the lack of opportunities the young artist pawn upon anything that comes their way.
8.) DISCOUNT ILLUSTRATION HOUSES
It is not at all justifiable to blame the discounters for the stagnant prices of illustration for the past three decades. But still they are a part of this situation. They are opportunists who are like a parasitic infection that weakens your immune system. If we don’t take considerable measures to resist them in time then they can even endanger our lives.
Graphic designers are very much similar to puzzle makers. We take pieces from different places and fit them together with perfect harmony or discordant depending on one’s choice. This is how a layout, poster, or a cover materialises. I also tried to make something similar though it was not so perfect. I did it simply to enjoy the act of creating something out of nothing. That was enough for me. But by performing this task over a period of time, I ran out of ideas and variations. This resulted in the steep reduction of the pleasure quotient. This might not happen to everyone but for me it did. I tried to apply many variations to my designs but still it didn’t work. Then I turned to illustrations to give new life to my designs and provide them with greater dimension.
Illustration is something I have always enjoyed be it the work of Robert Weaver in late 1950s or today’s illustrations in children’s books. Seeing all those amazing works I have always wished to become a skilled illustrator. If you are sure that you can’t be one then work with one. So working with an illustrator is the next big thing. It is a golden opportunity ti work with people who are better equipped with solutions for conceptual problems.
I already have admitted that I have limitations as a designer. Now, let me voice my opinion about illustrators. As I see it, illustrators are much more that just picture makers or stylists. Take my case itself. The illustrators who work with me bring more strength and stability to my designs. It can be said that my art acts as a frame for their illustration. I clearly know that it is not that fashionable to say this at a time when graphic designers are trying to be more creative by combining design and illustration together. But still a good illustrator can provide more than a design framework. They can tell stories using illustration.
Several times in my career I have rejuvenated myself as a designer or art director of newspapers and magazines. Thanks to all the phenomenal illustrators I have worked with and followed. They have contributed abundantly at every stage when I ran out of ideas. I do admire the work of designers who functions as soloists. Some of the works produced by talented designers are master pieces.
Collaborating with an art director or illustrator brings more joy than you can imagine. You will be astonished to see how an illustrator renders excellent illustrations when he or she hits on the right note. The joy that a good typography bring is very different from what you feel when you see an eye-catching illustration. When you see an excellent typography you will feel good. But when you seen an illustration it may trigger your intellectual and emotional responses. This cannot be done by typography. An illustration based on a very specific event or subject can redefine the relevance of timeliness and the issue. This can happen if the artist has used the right metaphors and symbols to illustrate the event.
Have you ever thought of the factor that makes illustration a constant renewable resource for designers? It is the huge variety of formal and stylistic perspectives established today. Some designers choose an illustrator based on the style of his or her work and how it fits the overall idea. But what I believe is that, it would be beneficial and create magic if the aesthetic sense and conceptual preferences of the artist and the graphic designer are in sync. Then, all that the designer needs to do is provide the freedom the illustrator needs. The illustrators whom I work with on a weekly basis range from media and conceptual ability. But each of them reflects my concerns in some way or the other.
An illustrator works at his or her best when there is enough freedom to express their creativity and style. Making too many changes to an illustrator’s images would totally mess up the whole concept. The joy that we get by seeing a good illustration is like the joy of opening a Christmas present. Illustration may not be a solution to all the design problems but I have found that designing and illustration can go hand in hand.
One of the greatest accomplishments of mankind is the art of illustration. It makes a narrative crystal clear. For example, think about the evolution and history of earth. You will realise that whatever we have understood about this subject has been presented to us is in the form of illustration. Taking this into consideration, it’s difficult to distinguish between painting and illustration. In history too, no difference existed between them. Have a look at the cave paintings, the Greek red-figured vases, the Giotto frescos in Padua, Chinese scroll paintings, and all other similar creation of art. They all had a similar goal- to help us know the world around us or to present a viewpoint regarding their world.
There is another element in art which the people, for centuries, have been trying to grapple. It is very difficult to depersonalise and describe it. In simple words, what I meant is the idea of presenting beauty. Recently, a report in an art magazine said that this concept is making a comeback. It is a very hot subject to deal with. When we use the word “beauty” in any form of art what we mean is a rare combination of some significant form, spiritual values, energy and sense of excellence. Any of these words cannot be easily defined. But we know these words when we see a symbol or a sign that represents them. Don’t we? E. H. Gombrich, art historian, argued that we understand a certain forms when we have an existing model of it in our minds. Otherwise when we come across something inexperienced it would be incomprehensible for us.
Throughout the ages there has been a constant fact that remained with all forms of art. It is the idea of communication. The artist presents his perspective of the world to the audience by means of art. There is no doubt that the audience can gain insight from the artist’s experience. You can relate the art even with the way our species have survived. It has helped us to understand how our older generations lived and what they have experienced in life. Only in recent times have the perspective of art has changed from serving the community to making a product that expresses the artist’s vision.
When you listen to a composition such as Mozart’s symphony you are are at the same time learning and experiencing it. The music will lead us through a unique journey of various experiences that develops a sense of familiarity and satisfaction. But how can this experience possibly help us? Lewis Hyde in his book, The Gift, gives us a clue. He says that “In primitive cultures gifts are given but cannot be kept; they must be passed on. As the gifts move through the tribe, bonds are formed, friendships are made, and the possibility for conflict diminishes.”
In arts schools and some other places there seems to be a distinction between art and illustration. If a separation has to be made, then it should be between painting and illustration. The distinction should be based on the purpose on which different form of art is used. One may serve the purpose of narration where as the other may be having expressive content. Theoretically, painting is the one that serves a higher cause. It explores various forms to shed light on reality, whereas, the role of illustration constrains to the task of telling or complimenting an understandable story.
Drawing something in and out of favour depends on how the artist conceives a subject or a situation. If you are good in interpreting, then you can pursue a career in arts or, in general, prepare well for life. Visual acuity is obtained by the result of matching the models held in the brain. When these exercises are done with attentiveness and discipline our brain changes. In this regard, when you practice fine arts it can imply to performing a moral or religious duty.
In reality collectors, peers, museums, dealers, critics, foundations, all create powerful expectations that can influence any fine artist. We all must find a way to live. In any sort of event, it is necessary to maintain an ethical centre for both illusion and painting. Be careful not to succumb to the thought that the painter will be elevated to the position of moral superiority for what he or she does. If you practice both, then it should not do any harm. It would be useful to think that painting and illustration are both subsets of the same concept that helps people to deal with the reality of life.
The context of illustration and painting may differ. Illustration accompanies a text. It puts more light on the subject. Painting has a spiritual touch. It is more objective and evokes our conscience to embrace and understand the world. It is clearly recorded in history that both illustration and painting requires the same effort: a basic understanding of the form and colour, knowledge of visual history, skills, aesthetic judgement, keep observation and the use of various materials.
For many years I have been saying that we have elevated the word ‘art’ and replaced it with ‘work’. One of the definitions we have concerning art is that ‘it serves its public by reflecting and explaining the world at a particular moment in history, it is hard to believe that design does not serve in a similar way.’ But this definition has little relevance today. Now, art has become a commodity. The only concern is how to make more money out of it. When you think of art there seems to be a confusion following it. This is why I said we should replace the word ‘art’ with ‘work’. Then the following descriptions can be developed:
1. Work that goes beyond its functional intention and moves us in deep and mysterious ways can be called great work.
2. Work that is conceived and executed with elegance and rigor can be called good work.
3. Work that meets its intended honestly without pretence can be called simple work.
4. Everything else, the sad and shoddy stuff of daily life, can come under the heading of bad work.
This simple change in the definition of art can remove the anxiety of thousands of people who think whether they are artists or not. More significantly what these definitions does is that it restores the art to a useful activity in life.
In the current scenario, there is lack of opportunities for the illustrators. To tackle this problem, we must consider alternative ways to educate and equip the illustrators with essential skills. Whatever changes you bring to the subjects you should not change the basic techniques of drawing. So far, nothing taught in art institutions seems relevant in developing one’s brain or enhance the judgement about forms. Here, I would also like to suggest that it would be good if we bring a shift in the concept of using illustration and art as a source of personal expression to communication of ideas.
While educating an illustrator you should also teach him any skill that can help in communication. This might include language studies, working in teams, art history, aspects of graphic design, and emerging technologies. Teaching these abilities alone does not make an illustrator able. The subject of illustration has not matched up with the professional needs of an illustrator so far. It is high time to think about how and what to teach the illustrator to build up a meaningful career.
At the age of nineteen, majority of the students who have enrolled in art colleges are supposed to declare whether they are either fine artists or commercial artists. It is quite disappointing that this decision is taken based on an outdated formula made many decades ago by the arts school teachers.
The unwritten formula for choosing your major goes like this:
- Fine Art is pure.
- Illustration is the beginning of selling out.
- Graphic Design is commercial art.
- Advertising is selling… period.
If a painter takes the path of illustration he or she is the suspect. If the illustrator tries to find a gallery is labelled defiled. Illustrators are uninvited guests in the world of Fine Arts and their club. When the critics of art want to punish an artist they will call his or her painting as an illustration. Each and every painter is aware that the word ‘illustration’ is the ultimate insult or criticism they can get for their work of art.
It sounds amusing. But these definitions given to artists can seriously affect their status and marketability. It can clearly suggest that who is in demand and who is not. David Smith, the sculptor, defined commercial art as “Art that meets the minds and needs of other people,” and fine art as “Art that meets the mind and needs of the artist.” By interpreting this definition, we can say that there are many fine artists whom you can call commercial and there are some illustrators whom you can call fine artists. Andy Warhol comments that “the finest art of all is the business of art.” This seems to go disregarded in the art school formula.
Try to see illustration as an outlet for “work done to meet the mind and needs of the artist” if your artistic approach remains the same for both illustration and fine arts. This way you can be a figurative artist.
You can discover many things from a painting. It is the best place to explore and find new meanings of expression. You can bring life to these rare discoveries and translate them into images and words with the help of illustration.
While learning the basics of art from an institution, it is good for the students to work in a series. This allows the students to bring in the concept of time into their work. This can change the usual habit of students of making single symbolic images which is trend followed in illustration.
The demand of an artist is determined by the way the public consumes the images created by him or her. The voice of an artist intensifies as the demand rises.
It is very much possible to spread out the boundaries where fine art and illustration assemble. It will be interesting to bring them together to redefine the old rules and image making process to make new ones. You can replace the age old formula of art with figurative on a printed page or a gallery wall.
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