The Art of Illustration: Four Illustrators Introduce You to the Awe-Inspiring State of Their Art

Contemplative types used to losing themselves in an image may wish to have a motion sickness bag on hand when viewing The Art of Illustration, the latest entry in Off Book, a PBS web series exploring cutting edge art and internet culture. The editing seems even more vertiginous than in episodes devoted to indie video game designers and glitch artists. The score recalls R. Crumb’s existential horror inside a modern nightclub.

Watch it anyway, for the interviewees thoughts on the state of illustration.

Professor Steven Guarnaccia of the The New School’s Illustration Program describes how illustration’s creative potential exploded once photography became the prime way of documenting celebrity appearances and other such newsworthy visuals.

Editorial Illustrator Yuko Shimisu internalizes those observations, throwing shade on any idea she feels would look better in photo form. Shimisu, like all of the artists featured in the short video, uses traditional media to make her drawings, but colors them digitally. The form may predate photography, but Shimisu implies that any practitioner unwilling to embrace the trend toward new media will find themselves going the way of the dodo, as editorial gigs migrate onto tablets and even smaller digital devices.

Meanwhile over at DC Comics, Sean Murphy has yet to discover a superpower capable of speeding up the work that goes into rendering a story in comic book format. The facial expressions, grand perspectives, and moody lighting that are his stock in trade could theoretically be captured with a shutter click, but at what cost to the overall narrative?

And then there’s the inimitable Molly Crabapple, purveyor of Victorian-flavored kink and founder of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, whose Occupy Wall Street posters challenged the visual boundaries of activist art. Finding a personal style one can blow up into a brand is not just a choice, she implies. It’s one’s best hope of survival in a sea flooded with competitors.

- Ayun Halliday publishes her illustrated zine, The East Village Inky the old fashioned way, then promotes it across all manner of digital platforms, including @AyunHalliday.



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