This afternoon, as I saw the mail carrier approaching my door with a small cardboard box, my excitement was immediately stirred as I anticipated its contents. This is the time of year when Communication Arts puts out its annual illustration publication, thus I intuitively knew what was nearing my doorstep. I always look forward to the illustration annual and seeing the latest ideas and techniques used by the world’s most skilled artists.
On the introduction page of the exhibit, Karen Powers is quoted saying, “I had expected to see more manipulated photo/illustration with lots of overwrought digital wizardry and was pleased to see that was not the case. So much of the work still involved traditional illustration techniques based on strong drawing skills.” Since I am familiar with the abundance of “digital wizardry” that is passed for skill in contemporary illustration, I was looking forward to being blown away by drawings, paintings and other hand-rendered media.
Well, I am now wondering if Karen was talking about a different art presentation, because the majority of the illustrations in the Comm Arts Illustration annual were either digitally generated or digitally enhanced. Granted, many of the images were skillfully done, however, artists seemed to rely so heavily on the computer that their efforts venture more into digital cut and paste rather than drawing skill. Some work was much like a glorified coloring book.
Still there were nuggets of inspiration with examples of old school illustrators like Brad Holland and Gary Kelly. I always enjoy seeing their work as they execute their conceptual and drawing skills into their illustrations. Their work is a breath of fresh air in a field where so many gee-wiz techno geeks exist. I wonder if Brad and Gary were new to the field would their work would even be accepted into the Comm Arts annual of today. One could only speculate.
As one who has not yet “made it” in my illustration career, I guess I have to either accept the direction that the field of illustration is going or be left behind. Ah, if only I were born ten years earlier!