Artistic Identity The relationship between Illustration and Narrative.
A Definition.Illustration- to illustrate- verb [with object] provide (a book, newspaper etc.) with pictures. The origin of the word ‘Illustration’ is derived from the late Middle English word ‘Illumination’ which refers to a spiritual or intellectual enlightenment.Gustave Dore
Book IllustrationBook Illustration originated in 15th century ‘block books’, in which the text and the illustrations were cut from the same block. In the late 16th century, Lithography, the art of printing using smooth surfaces like stone or a metal plate, greatly influenced the production of illustrated books, which was exploited by early Illustrators such as Gustave Dore, Honore Daumier and Paul Gavarni.Since this change in the development processes of book production, in order to supply much more product for a larger audience, Illustration has always closely followed the development of printing processes, including copperplate engraving and etching which eventually replaced woodcutting techniques.
Gustave Dore“‘Illumination’ which refers to a spiritual or intellectual enlightenment.”During the 15th-19th Century, Artists such as Gustave Dore were living in a time period, and culture of religious authority. Therefore, with the help of new printing processes, there was a demand amongst the new editions of the Bible, for illustrations within these new versions of scripture, which would enlighten the audience spiritually and intellectually, in a visual manner.
Dore is one of the grand masters of illustration, but due to the fact that the popular narratives in his culture were biblical stories and historical fables, his portfolio of work consisted of deep, dark subject matter with morbid undertones. Dore’s most famous works involve the illustrated editions of ‘Dante’s Divine Comedy’ which frequently depicted his drawing subjects under profound suffering.
‘The Golden Age of Illustration’.In the late 19th Century, the art of lithography was eventually replaced by photomechanical processes which allowed a wide variety of painting and drawing techniques for artists such as William Morris and Norman Rockwell, who exploited this new printing process to great effect and reproduced many of their artworks. Thus began ‘The Golden Age of Illustration’ in America which lasted from the late 19th century to the end of WW1, but led to some of the most iconic illustrations in recent history. Books, magazines and newspapers were then the primary media source for public consumption, which required Illustrations to coincide with narratives they contained. This increasing demand for more illustration within American culture led to the emergence of another grand master of illustration, Norman Rockwell.
Norman RockwellOne of the most profound illustrators and familiar to millions through his work for ‘The Saturday Evening Post’, Rockwell perfected the use of oil techniques for reproduction. By working on relatively large surfaces, the almost photographic clarity of his work could be retained in reproduction when it was considerably reduced in size, but still manages to reflect American Culture during that time period.
Contemporary IllustrationBritish Illustrator Liz Hankins explains that “The market is changing. Illustration has been ‘out of fashion’ for years, taking second place to photography, but at last illustration is coming back. There is now a serious market for purchase and original illustrations as exhibitions, which were denigrated as ‘not real art’.” Illustration is now involved in various elements of popular culture, not only in books, magazine and newspaper, but it has become increasingly popular in the film industry. This billion dollar industry has led to the emergence of companies such as Mondo, which highlight the work of a diverse range of illustrators who now visually interpret the narratives being used, in innovative and interesting ways due to the development of computer technologies.
A contemporary Saul Bass, Olly Moss is an Illustrator who specializes in both modern and traditional movie posters. His minimalist style is refreshing, and it executes his innovative concepts efficiently, as the artist experiments with transforming negative space into images of their own. His work with narrative is unparalleled, as he enlightens the reader with references which offer a brief insight into the elements that drive the story within the film.
Ralph Steadman is a British Illustrator best known for his work with ‘Gonzo Journalist’ Hunter S. Thompson. He produced a front cover and produced several illustrations for his book ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’. The book features heavy drug use and warped hallucinations that allowed Steadman to experiment with his illustrations, and offer a visually exciting interpretation of the contents of the narrative. In contrast to Norman Rockwell, who primarily used rosy, cheerful imagery when referencing American culture, Rockwell was able to connect with Hunter S. Thompson more personal experience into journalism subjects, which allowed Steadman to illustrate more honest subjects.
Pre-Production Film IllustrationConcept art is an important process within the film industry, and it has been dominated by the medium of digital, tablet art. Concept art allows directors, animators and 3D graphic designers to begin to visually map the narrative, and base the whole aesthetic upon these initial designs. Dylan Cole
In-Film IllustrationA popular aspect of post-modern film making is eclecticism. The variation of materials and methods is essential for directors such as Quentin Tarentino. The image below is a screenshot of a scene from Kill Bill vol. 1, which uses a popular eastern category of illustration called ‘Manga.’ The type of illustration was wisely chosen to tell the story of a Japanese character within the story.
Book Covers Right: David Pelhams iconic book cover for Anthony Burgess’ ‘A Clockwork Orange’ Left: Sheppard Faireys digital illustration. A simple yet effective design which highlights the theme of the book
Graphic Illustrator ‘Jock’, experiments with a variety of materials andtechniques including screen-printing. The demand for illustration forpost-production and advertising elements in the film industry portraythe strong connection between narrative and illustration.
Ken TaylorKen Taylor is an illustrator based in Melbourne, and is primarily known for his work with music. However, Taylor also works within the film industry, and produces a wide range of work based on popular television shows and blockbuster films. Many of his work is used for the promotion of the films/ TV shows so he uses his skills as an illustrator to make the narrative more visually appealing.
Some of my own Illustration work. A prototype film cover for Zack Snyder’s ‘Watchmen’, orginally a comic book by Alan Moore. A digital illustration, referencing a key event in the film, whilst depicting the most visually memorable character, the anti-hero ‘Rorschach’.