Wednesday, 6 November 2013

What does Illustration mean? (PDP Level 6)

I guess the question ''What does Illustration mean'' is something I rarely stop to think about or have answered so this is a nice opportunity to get my thoughts down in response to this.  Like everything in life I think people can have their own interpretation of what Illustration means to them individually.  When I try to explain to people what I am studying, people who are not in the creative industries don't understand what I do, so I either say it's like Graphic Design, even though it's not!, some people at that point get it and some still don't have a clue, so I mention pictures in children's story books and explain how they are created by Illustrators, it's the easiest explanation to give sometimes.

I read the 2012 article in Varoom  magazine by Michael Salu, he quotes ''As our visual language evolves, the playing field is levelling. Graphic designs, sculptors, painters, creative developers and even musicians amorphously meander across different parts of our creative industries."

The above quote to me sparks excitement, that the industry is becoming more diverse and versatile, I think traditional illustration was more confined to just being an illustrator and only using drawing, painting, collage as means of communicating a message, this was something that worried me a little in second year when I discovered a love for making, I wasn't sure if there would be a market for me out there as my work isn't about drawings, but more about making and creating a 3D world.  However as I have progressed through the course and have looked towards wonderful inspiring illustrators such as Lord Whitney, Vanessa Boer and Polly Becker, and even Hattie Stewart - It has really instilled confidence in me that you can be true to yourself regardless of what medium you use to communicate your work and that there is a market out there regardless.

For example if there was a Theatre Set with a violinist playing music, that in a way to me is illustrating a mood, a meaning and a narrative.  That's why I am excited how the boundaries are changing, to me it says there are no limits.  I like to think in the future I will be illustrating through various mediums such as drawing, props, objects, costume and use of photography/music.  I read an article on Hattie Stewart who has been collaborating with the fashion/beauty world internationally, which really shows that different industries are inter-twining and collaborating, again this is really interesting for people such as myself who will be graduating next year. Technology developments are also altering how Illustrators create and see their work, we are also having to broaden our skill sets, which may not be a bad thing.  Another great example of a versatile illustrator is Jan Svankmajer, he uses what ever medium he feels relevant to use such as film, photography, animation, I-stop motion, drawing etc, I love that his work is varied and not confined, he also pushed the boundaries as he was banned for 10 years from making any films, due to a controversial piece he created that had political connections. 

The term 'Illustration' dates back to the 15th Century when wood cut illustration became available in books, it also originates from the latin word 'illu'stro' to enlighten or irradiate.  Polly Becker's view on what illustration means to her ''is the idea that an illustrator might be trying to elucidate, shed light, or be lucid'', this is a really nice idea, I think aims and themes in illustrators work can alter how they see illustration.  That's the beauty of it, it's different in everyones eyes and mind.

When I look back to my work in the foundation Visual Communication course, my work was very ephemeral and a little graphic, in my first year of my degree I was still very sketchbook based and my work was all flat and I didn't really take risks, then I discovered making in 3D, and I have been working this way since, developing into character making and I have recently become fascinated with props and found objects, I feel like I am still evolving though which is a humbling feeling.  I still really enjoy collage and using ink pens, I realise that I don't do as much of this anymore and I hope to get back to it soon.  In the future I hope to be playing more on the senses by collaboration or bringing my work to life by use lighting, music, props and film, and I also hope that I stay true to myself.

I personally don't think the name 'Illustration' should be changed, as it's clear that it can be interpreted in many ways and can be delivered via any medium.

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