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Hey @Kingston and @MikeO and any other people with illustration backgrounds, I have a question. I guessing that there is tons of disagreement about what, if anything, makes illustration different from fine art, but I have a more general question. Sometimes you guys say that you like a particular painter, noting that he/she was an illustrator, or you comment that a painting has an illustrative quality to it.

I think that I know what you mean, but I'm not 100% sure. So, for us non-illustrators, what do you mean?


  • @Martin_J_Crane It means a lot of things to me. I have a degree in illustration. When I went to school illustration was very relevant. Album covers, magazine covers, magazine illustrations, movie posters, calendars were dominated by the work of artists or illustrators. Today all of that work, with few exceptions, is done with Photoshop.

    Tomorrow I am going to "The Society of Illustrators" in New York to see the annual advertising show. When I was a student going there was like going to church. You would leave with your jaw wide open. You couldn't believe the collection of talent included in that show. Back then the show was relevant. You would recognize what you were looking at. The original artwork for movie posters, Bob Peak, Richard Amsel, Ted Coconis, Robert McGuinness. You would see calendar illustrations by Greg and Tim Hildebrandt, and Darrel Sweet for "The Lord of the Rings", Michael Deas' illustrations of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and others for US postage stamps. Bernie Fuchs, Burt Silverman, Steven Assael, Malcolm T. Liepke, Braldt Bralds and a thousand others.

    When I go to the show tomorrow I will probably want to throw up after seeing it. At least half the show will be digital and those pieces that aren't will be of inferior quality. That show is a shadow of it's former self. I hate to say it but, in my opinion, illustrations are not as relevant as they once were. But ARTISTS ARE RELEVANT.

    When I see the work of my favorite fine artists I think that they are just as relevant as they ever were. People such as Tony Curanaj (your new favorite artist) are benefitting from new schools like the Water Street Atelier and art academies that stress the fundementals, and that's good because that is an improvement over what was around when I was a student. I think that technology is simply making people reposition themselves.

    I would recommend to buy one of the illustrator annuals on Amazon. They're numbered as Illustrators 26, Illustrators 27, etc. Buy a used copy because they're cheap and they're definitely worth it. You will be amazed at the quality of the artwork. You'll also get a lot of new ideas.

    @David_Quinn_Carder mentioned in the "Oblivion" thread that that painting looked very much like an illustration. He's dead on. The hobbit illustration that he is talking about could have been done by Greg and Tim Hildebrandt.

    The great thing about a lot of these books is that in many cases they're practically being given away, if you know where to look.

    Sorry about being a little long winded but I think if you get one of those annuals you will have a sense of the world of illustration before everything went digital.

    lindleyMartin_J_Crane[Deleted User]mavis_swt
  • Thanks, @MikeO and @Kingston. This is really helpful information to me. I'll check out those sources and keep your comments in mind. If my life situation were different I'd be at Water Street Atelier or someplace like that. Nonetheless I'm excited that these places are cropping up again and that they seem to be thriving.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] admin
    edited January 2015
    @MikeO This was the edition of The Hobbit I had as a kid (without the jacket just like in the pictures here, but very weather-worn):

    Some of Hague's illustrations were better than others, but the whole package was just very well done. Typography and all that is a big deal to me and always was. While Hague has done a lot of children's book illustrations, I don't think he has done much Tolkien besides the illustrations in this one edition of the book.

    Regarding the rhino painting, I don't nearly as much as Kingston or Mike or Marten, but some things that gave the painting an illustrative quality for me, I think, were:

    — liberties with perspective
    — liberties with lighting/values
    — a story being told

    To me, those things make the focus of the painting the subject itself rather than the scene, if that makes any sense. Rather than capturing a moment, it tells you things. In any case, I just like it.
  • @David_Quinn_Carder If I have ever seen this edition of the Hobbit then I have forgotten it. I know Michael Hague's work and it reminds me of Arthur Rackham's work. The only illustration of the Hobbit by him that I remember was of the dragon Smaug
    [Deleted User]
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] admin
    edited January 2015
    Yes, Hague's Smaug has been used for a few covers and other materials, but the rest of his Hobbit illustrations are relatively unknown. I recognize some of Rackham's work and I like it a lot (for example Alice with the deck of cards).

    My favourite Tolkien art is definitely the art by Tolkien himself. I highly recommend this book:

  • I'm kind of realizing from @MikeO @Kingston and @TwoPalette that the idea of a renewed interest in representational work and rendering the figure is not really accurate. You illustrator guys have been doing it all along.
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Kingston, Like you I bailed on illustration in the mid 80s. The Mac was really coming on strong and I could see that hired pencils were quickly going to be a thing of the past. I shifted to selling fine art (watercolors) and watched my agency friends languish in illustration. I still love good illustrations.I focused on gouache and watercolor because of the fast deadlines.I Always intended to get into fly tying but got sidelined making folding knives.
  • Carderites

    This image says it all....

    1916 ad for Western Engraving, Seattle, Washington. "Illustration beats explanation. Western Engraving & Colortype Co. 915 E. James at Broadway - MAIN 1898."
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