Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Art vs. Illustration - the quotes....

In response to a very interesting post and even more insightful comments over at Colouring Outside the Lines on fine art and illustration, I promised to put up some of the applicable quotes that I use in my 'children's illustration' class. The first couple are a general comparison (from an illustration point of view):

"...And illustrator is an artist whose education knows no beginning and no end... Every book should be a thing of beauty aimed at permanency."

Fritz Eichenberg, The Illustrator's Notebook

"Good art does not necessarily make good illustration. An artist can paint a beautiful picture of fall trees, but unless this painting makes an idea clearer, it will not fulfill the function of an illustration. The art also must be executed in a way that will reproduce well. Good illustration goes beyond exact rendering of the words, to offer an interpretation of them....
Although excellent art may not make excellent illustration, excellent illustration must be excellent art."

Nancy S. Hands, Illustrating Children's Books

These actually underscore the sometimes-animosity between the "fine artists" and illustrators. The first is from a very well known and respected American, editorial illustrator (and I think fairly ironically humorous!):

"Almost everybody is an artist these days. Rock & Roll singers are artists. So are movie directors, performance artists, tattoo artists, con artists and rap artists. Movie stars are artists. Madonna is an artist because she explores her own sexuality. Snoop Doggy Dog is an artist because he explores other people's sexuality. Victims who express their pain are artists. So are guys in prison who express themselves on shirt cardboard. Even consumers are artists when they express themselves in their selection of commodities. The only people left in America who seem not to be artists are illustrators."

Brad Holland

This one is from the turn of the century. Apparently, illustrators feeling slighted by the fine art establishment is NOT a new phenomenon:

"The difference between a fine artist and an illustrator is that an illustrator:

1. Can draw
2. Eats three square meals a day and
3. Can pay for them.

James Montgomery Flagg

I'm not knocking fine art at all. Much of it I love. Although there is some I don't pretend to understand. I am drawn to those pieces, 'art' or illustration, that elicit an emotional response from me. Personaly though, my more literal brain seems compelled to create mainly narrative works - and that has been what I've responded to the most since I was a child. (And why I prefer the PreRaphealites to the Impressionists even now). The more education and exposure I get to various art pieces and forms however, the more I appreciate the nuances and expression involved. Of course there is pretentiousness and lack of genuine ability or facility on both sides which may cause some of the conflict but maybe the bulk of the acrimony is from a basic lack of education and understanding of other approaches? Hmmmmm..... More thinking happening now....


andrea said...

Stop! My brain is starting to hurt! :) These are good, Tara, especially this: Although excellent art may not make excellent illustration, excellent illustration must be excellent art. I also love Holland's and Flagg's. Too true! And since we're talking great quotes, the Hansberry one above is one of those ones that would never occur to you until you experience it.

muddy red shoes said...

Great, isnt it funny how one is made to feel almost apoligetic about being a. an illustrator and b. a "traditional" artist. You are an artist Tara, and an illustrator and a very fine worker of these crafts I think...long may the boundries/titles/lables be blurred!

Soozcat said...

Illustrators, perhaps more so than other visual artists, remember something important about their work--that art is meant to be seen and appreciated by the public, not just by a small group of elites. I believe this is something illustrators have in common with authors--both recognize the vital importance of an audience for their work. I can write all day long, but if there's no audience for that writing, I'm just a housewife with a cheap hobby. It's only when that writing gets published, sold and read that I become a legitimate author.

It's funny to me that the one group of people who, by that measure, ought to be called "legitimate artists"--that is, those who actually have a paying market for their work--are the ones most disliked and demeaned by fine artists. If I didn't know better, I'd say that smacks of jealousy.

tlc illustration said...

Good point Sooz. :-) You are articulate as always.