Illustration is not for the faint-hearted. It can take a tough cookie to meet the demands and rigours of getting somewhere within a discipline that feels vastly unsupported, Without stand alone facilities in education, the lone illustrator must utilise Ihe media that other disciplines would first lay claim to, breaking into places that would normally be considered Ihe domain of other specialists. Gaining access to the drawing studio normally housed in the fine art department, the darkrooms occupied by the photography course, the print-making workshops open for students of print-making, the wood and metal workshops utilised by students of sculpture, architecture and furniture design and the computing facilities overrun by graphic design and motion graphics students is never going to be easy. But it happens -illustration students are a rare breed that Open doors and get things moving.
A life without a defined career path is not for all: creating and then maintaining a presence as an illustrator within the design industry takes commitment and at times can be frustrating. Dragging a portfolio of work to a potential client to find that they have left the building is depressing, and being at the mercy of those with Ihe power to commission can be demoralising, but at the heart of those that wish to work in illustration is the desire lo create images.
Working with new materials, solving visual problems, researching subjects and experimenting with ideas, all drive most illustrators. Seen by many as a lifestyle rather than just a career choice, the commitment to the discipline must be all-encompassing if a student illustrator is to break into the commercial world. Never likely to be a regular nine-to-five existence with healthcare, dental and paid holidays, illustration demands total involvement. Working across the board, breaking across boundaries, experimenting and mastering media, none truly belonging to them, the illustrator still finds ways of making his or her mark,
1. Screen-printed T-shirt 'Untitled' for Concrete Hermit Jon Burgerman, 2004
2, Digital drawing 'Phalanx' for Uberhaus Jon Burgerman, 2004
3. Hand-drawn customised guitar
Guitar' for Studio Output Jon Burgerman, 2004 Art Direction by Studio Output
4. Hand-drawn customised shoes
Untitled' for Sneaker Pimps Jon Burgerman, 2004
Having an appetite for working across a broad spectrum of applications is a huge motivation for approaching clients with ideas of how various techniques may work. Images that work on paper in print may also work on T-shirts and can be adapted for a 3D object like a guitar or a pair Of Sneakers.
5. Screen-printed poster 'Beastie Boys' for Monqui Presents Justin Hampton, 2004
6. Screen-printed poster 'Dangermouse' for Dangermouse Justin Hampton, 2004
Some media live on despite the allure of the digital. Screen-printed posters have a quality that is unique and cannot be replicated by digital print processes.
Without the confines of a discipline-specific medium, the illustrator has been free to explore and experiment with a range of media, creating images from whatever and wherever seems most appropriate. With drawing at the centre of the illustrator's armoury, the handmade mark is never far from view, but unsurprisingly it is the vast range of potential image and mark-making devices that appears in the work of. and typifies the eclectic nature of, today's image-makers.
Like professional magpies, illustrators plunder an array of media, employing working methods that mix and match depending on the requirements of the project. It is not uncommon to witness a raw visual mix of the digital, the analogue, the traditional, the photographic and the stencilled, as well as hand-drawn and painted marks within the images of contemporary illustrators. The digital has empowered the illustrator in a way that was thought unthinkable even just a decade and a half ago.
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