The first difficult choice was which illustrator to choose. As a child I really loved books and especially those with illustrations. Some illustrators I really admired but maybe that had more to do with nostalgia than admiring the actual images. Thinking of my own style I chose Edward Ardizzone, I remembered his illustrations but not an actual book.
Edward Ardizzone was despite his name, a very English illustrator. Born in 1900 he was most well known for his children’s books but also left a substantial archive as a war correspondent. He did not have a formal art training but attended evening classes at the Westminster School of Art.
His pictures are quite nostalgic of his own upbringing and quite Edwardian in flavour. He reflected none of the artistic trends of the time such as modernism, cubism, etc. His work is instantly recognisable, he uses ink lines and delicate watercolour washes. Although his work never really developed with time it became looser and looser. It has been described as naturalistic but subdued.
Why I like his work
I think I like his work because of it’s intimacy. He had a talent for depicting small incidents and his pictures are little tableaus of real life. They evoke a feeling of safety and comfort. As a child I found books a safe refuge and his pictures remind me of that feeling.
Trying to reproduce his style was interesting. I found the cross hatching hard work and struggled using an ink pen so switched to a black Faber-Castell artist pen which I felt more comfortable with. One of the things I like about his work is his looseness which I lost in my interpretation, strange as my natural style is loose to the point of chaotic, but I guess a result of the inhibiting effect of using a different style. My child also has none of the charm and sympathy of the original.
He does seem very old fashioned now, very simple, representational images using a simple technique, rather than the multilayered, complex, bright, collaged images which are prevelant today but I think his pictures still retain tremendous charm.
For a contemporary illustrator I liked the work of Lauren Child’s “Charlie and Lola” series and Tony Fucile’s illustrations for “Bink and Golly” very much, but in both cases I think it may have had a lot to do with the wit of the writing, then I thought of doing Emily Gravett on the basis of her drawings in “Wolves” which I love for the fact of seeing every pencil mark.
However I then had second thoughts, I have been doing line drawings for a long time and have reached a stage where I feel very frustrated with my level of ability. I think of illustrators as being able to draw really well, I feel I can’t draw “well enough”, therefore I can’t be an illustrator………In order to deal with this trap I am thinking I will try and use other media for this course. I have confiscated my Faber-Castell pens, the tool I am most comfortable with. I don’t know how long it will be before I “crack” and have to ask for it back but I’m going to give it a go at not using it at all.
To this end I looked through Illustration Play 2, a showcase of contemporary illustrators.
The artist I decided to emulate was Anastassia Elias, aka Chadou Yuma. I could have chosen any number of illustrators but in the end my choice was based on what method of working I could have a go at. She works with collage and I chose a fairly representational image to work from. That is another thing I would like to move away from, at present I tend to either make representational images or abstract, I would like to try and mix them more in future.
She likes to make images with people in them, going about their daily life, but then re-presenting them in a new way. She was born in Russia in 1976, now lives in Paris and her pictures often reflect that. I found the process of making the collage quite slow and labourius but was pleasantly suprised with the end result. I thought her image was more subtle than mine, no doubt reflecting the amount of time spent on it.