Great Understanding Illustration reviews

Illustration Cloud:

“Full and informed commentary on each project is interspersed with quotes and background detail by the illustrator concerned. Many insights are revealed by the artists when talking about their work. The text is completed with a reprinting of the published work together with additional examples from the artists’ portfolio”

Association of Illustrators:

“The book effectively showcases the diversity of illustration, the different formats and endless variation of style whilst revealing the extent of illustration as means of visual communication in the 21st century.”

 

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Understanding Illustration panel event

The publication of Understanding Illustration in UK and USA is celebrated with a panel event at London’s prestigious bookstore, Foyles. Renowned illustrators, Sara Fanelli, and George Butler, who both feature in the book will be in discussion with authors Jo Davies and Derek Brazell. Sara and George are both recipients of the V&A Illustration Awards.

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Jo Davies and Derek Brazell have authored three books on illustration. Understanding Illustration is now available

Derek Brazell & Jo Davies Published by A&C Black/Bloomsbury 16 January 2014 UK, 13 March USA

Featuring an international range of top-of-their-game illustrators, Understanding Illustration examines an eclectic and carefully selected set of fascinating images and projects that look at the function of illustrative imagery and the context in which it is created.

From an illustrated lighthouse in northern Norway to an Australian beer bottle label, Understanding Illustration takes in the huge sweep that illustration covers. See more here

To purchase in the UK go here ISBN: 9781408171790 Available in the USA through Bloomsbury Academic Visual Art

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Becoming A Successful Illustrator

Published by Fairchild Books/Bloomsbury 2013 UK and USA

An essential guide for new illustrators and graduates covering areas to work in; the professional world of the illustrator; self promotion; getting your work seen; finance and running a business, skills audits and practical activites and more. With newly commissioned artworks and insightful comments from international illustrators accompanied by examples of their work supporting the text. More here

Eye magazine: “As the discipline of illustration is continuously expanding to include much more than the traditional areas of book publishing and editorial work, Becoming A Successful Illustrator is likely to become a staple on every aspiring illustrator’s bookshelf.”

 

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Making Great Illustration Exhibition

Making Great Illustration
Monday 10 September – Saturday 20 October
The Peninsula Arts Gallery
Plymouth University
, Roland Levinsky Building
, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon PL4 8AA

The Making Great Illustration
exhibition, based on the book of the same name, was a unique opportunity to see an amazingly high caliber of illustrators’ work all in one show. Featuring artwork by some of the world’s best illustrators, including; Quentin Blake, Kitty Crowther, Marian Bantjes, Ralph Steadman, Rob Ryan, Laura Carlin and Ronald Searle, it covered both superior young talent and the influential older generation.

Catalina Estrada - scarf for solidarity

The whole range of illustration was represented from typographic work, reportage, editorial to children’s books. Including Oliver Jeffers’ picture book sketchbook, Catalina Estrada’s jewel-like scarves, vinyl toys from Pete Fowler, an Afghanistan sketchbook drawn by Matthew Cook whilst on a tour of duty and images for Waitrose packaging from Emma Dibben. Photographic portraits and studio shots provided unique insights into the illustrators’ environment featured alongside the artwork.

Oliver Jeffers sketchbook is on display

 

Ralph Steadman - original artwork for Will Self's Psychogeography column

 

 

Pete Fowler - TRWG, vinyl figure

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‘Ambitious’ MGI

‘Making Great Illustration is an ambitious bid to give more substance to the literature, and it presents a convincing list, almost a canon, of 30 illustrators from several generations.’

Great review in Eye – the international review of graphic design

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Kitty Crowther

 Report from interviews for the Making Great Illustration book. For more info see About

My young daughter asked me to bring her back a bag of sprouts from Brussels, instead I brought her a book from the extraordinary illustrator Kitty Crowther. What’s amazing about Kitty is that most of us here in the UK have never heard of her, nor seen her work. That’s amazing because she is a hugely talented writer and illustrator celebrated the world over, but not published in the UK.

I travel on Eurostar and stay in the centre in a swish hotel. I’ve not been to Brussells for years and have an explore in the last of the evening sun. It’s not very sophisticated but I can’t resist having a huge ice cream from an up market chocolate shop. There’s not a sprout in sight.

I know that reaching the village where Kitty lives could be a faff; I have to get a metro, and two trains. This is one of the last interviews and I don’t want any thing to go wrong so I am up at the crack of dawn and feel a bit frazzled.

 

When I arrive in the little village where she lives it is still early and Kitty is eating grapefruit in her warm kitchen. She too is warm and makes me feel very at home. We both drink tea in big cups and Kitty talks about her recent prize (the Astrid Lindgren Memorial award 2010) I know it’s not polite to ask about money, but I can’t help myself from wondering about what it’s like to be given almost half a million pounds. She is very humble about it and says that it will give her some freedom and the chance to buy a house of her own. She tells me a story about one of her sons inventing other prizes that she thinks she should be awarded and although I can’t remember the details the jist of it is that she realises it’s not an excuse to get a big ego.

What is most memorable is the way that Kitty giggles as she speaks, whilst rolling up her own cigarettes. We sit in her big loft studio with the roof windows open and the sound of the birds outside is quite astounding.

It may sound condescending or corny to say that Kitty is charming but really she is. I find her quite magical. When she talks about her visits to Norway during her childhood and her interest in folklore it is easy to imagine her in some mystical landscape, it seems to be where she belongs with her cast of creatures. I’m not surprised when she muses about using some of her prize money for that same purpose. No sprouts there either but more chance of encountering the witches and other ethereal beings in which she believes.

Jo Davies

Photography by Paul Duerinckx

Kitty Crowther publisher site

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Emmanuel Guibert and Antoine+Manuel

Report from interviews for the Making Great Illustration book. For more info see About

I travel on Eurostar with my good friend Edith to Paris, and the book I’m reading, The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert, one if the artists I’m going to interview, draws the attention of a passenger sitting opposite. She’s going for an interview with Medecins Sans Frontiers and has been involved as a helicopter pilot in the troubled Afghanistan area. Her insights into working in war torn and troubled regions around the world are fascinating and she is equally interested in the graphic novel which I show her. Her reaction is a reminder of the power of illustration to communicate – she finds it compelling.

Emmanuel Guibert from Alan's War graphic novel

We’ve managed to arrange a two-day trip with both interviews on the same day with Antoine and Manuel in the morning followed by Emmanuel Guibert in the afternoon. Emmanuel is leaving dead on 5 o’clock, for his 2 months summer break in the north of France and he is giving us an hour of his time in between packing his belongings away. We know that we will have to be prompt, the only problem we have is that we don’t know where he is – we don’t have an address for him. Bit of a challenge, that.

The Professor's Daughter

It’s very hot when we arrive in Paris and it’s teatime. We leave messages on Emmanuel’s answer machine, check with Derek in the UK to see if Emmanuel has been in touch and then make contact with Paul the photographer, who is staying in an upmarket hotel up the road. We troup off excitedly for our supper feeling decidedly in a holiday mood. The trips where there’s company for mealtimes and time to explore with are definitely the best. An extra perk (as if meeting your hero illustrators isn’t enough of a perk already).

Antoine+Manuel Olympus poster

It’s a warm evening so we go to Montmartre, as all tourists do. Typically it’s packed so we find somewhere at the bottom of the hill and order our kir. Paul stops on the way to photograph a pair of shoes left abandoned on the pavement. We wonder if it’s a case of spontaneous combustion.

We are quite merry when we get back to the hotel but there’s still no message from Emmanuel. I do manage to speak to Antoine to confirm that all’s fine for the next day. He is very warm and friendly so I begin to look forward to interview – I’ve read that Antoine and Manuel only do interviews in disguise and I’ve been nervous about it, but the brief telephone conversation is very easy. I wasn’t speaking French of course, and Antoine is charming. Before going to bed I do a last minute check of recorder batteries and memory.

Antoine+Manuel

Antoine and Manuel work in a vast studio in the Marais district in Paris. It’s a very upmarket and trendy area and a sign of their commercial success. The space inside is incredible. Many rooms, some papered with their distinctive imagery and featuring their unique furniture and installations. Antoine is wearing shorts and there is no sign of a mask. He is most charming and welcoming and apologetic because Manuel is running late. We try to be relaxed but with no word yet from Emmanuel we know that we can’t afford to get behind on our schedule.

Antoine+Manuel for Nike

When Manuel arrives we can see that he is ill. He doesn’t want to let us down because of the effort we have made and we really appreciate that and he also doesn’t want to put his make up on. That means that Paul may be taking the only recognisable portraits of the duo. A coup!

Antoine is less talkative during the interview and Manuel dominates the responses to my questions. There are times when things get a bit lost in translation and answers are given to questions I don’t ask but I’m beginning to develop a sense during interviews of the amount and quality of information I’m getting and the potential to draw usable quotes. I feel that overall it’s been ok, and am conscious of the time- we’ve been talking for an hour and a half. I can see that Paul is itching to get started on the more formal portrait and studio shots.

I notice Paul getting interested in a splatter of pink paint on a wall and decide to sneak off and do a bit more chatting with Antoine independently, as I suspect he is happy to add to the material I have recorded (successfully!) during the interview.

At this point in the book I’m wishing I could have a big dinner party and invite some of my favourite interviewees around for ongoing good-humoured chat as some kind of experiment. Antoine would be near the top of my list and I’d sit him next to Kitty Crowther, both of them warm and engaging. 

Gods Series - Graphic Design Museum at Breda

The photos of Antoine and Manuel in the red installation in their studio are quite remarkable. I feel quite humbled to be alongside such a great photographer.

It’s hot when we leave the studio to meet Edith for lunch. It’s already 2 o’clock and the phone rings – it’s Derek, with Emmanuel’s contact details. We gallop our baguettes down and head for the nearest metro- we are working against the clock and our own inclination is to sit down and enjoy a cool drink and confer on and digest our last experience with Antoine and Manuel.

Paul rings one of his ex-photography students, a native Parisienne and she meets us outside Emmanuel’s house. He seems doubly important now he has his own assistant, French speaking too. I’m jealous. Emmanuel waves down at us enthusiastically from the balcony, he’s about 5 floors up in a vintage typically Parisian fin-de-siècle building.  We gather our wits for another interview and another set of questions and observations. It’s an effort to appear fresh on such a hot and challenging day.

Emmanuel Guibert

Emmanuel is a delight. He laughs as I put my 3 recorders in front of him on the table; I’m taking no chances and say that it’s a sign of his importance. He asks if I’ve mistaken him for Sarkosy.

He is vibrant and fascinating. He talks with enthusiasm and joy about his work and the pleasure he has had in meeting people through it. I nod in agreement. He is surrounded by packing cases, the Normandy coast beckoning him for his 3-month break but he is really attentive and our hour-long interview becomes a 2-hour visit, with photos on the balcony and him enjoying French friendly banter with the photographic assistant.

There’s a fly by of vintage military planes outside, a vapour trail scarring the blue sky. Emmanuel graciously signs a print for each of us and wishes us bonnes vacances. It’s a memorable end to a memorable day… not quite. We owe ourselves a glass of kir… and our return train is the next day, so the night is but young.

Jo Davies

Studio and portrait photographs by Paul Dureinckx

Emmanuel Guibert

Antoine+Manuel

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Hvass&Hannibal

 Report from interviews for the Making Great Illustration book. For more info see About

One of the joys of visiting illustrators around the world is the travel, and Copenhagen is a beautiful city to visit – its canals and a fairy tale buildings lending an air of enchantment. I’m going to visit the Danish collective Hvass&Hannibal whose work seems to reflect this culture.

When we get up for breakfast me and my travel companion Edith get a sense that we are somewhere truly foreign. That’s partly due to the strange array of fish delicacies that are on offer and largely because of the Christmas carols that are piped into the lift and hotel lobby. Our companion diners are wearing their Christmas sweaters. It’s April.


Apart from a Peruvian pipe band the streets are oddly deserted and it’s cold, bitingly cold. Hvass&Hannibal work in a trendy area of town where second hand retro shops sit next to interesting coffee shops. Their studio is in a basement; a warm haven and the illustrators too offer warm greetings and tea.

Sofie reveals that on this day Jesus is going back to heaven, that it’s a holiday. The illustrators work for clients all around the world (and are visited by writers from the UK) so they don’t always observe local holidays.

Interviewing a collective is a tricky business but Sofie and Nan seem well accustomed to answering each other’s questions and contradicting each other’s replies. I get a sense that there are no egos just searching minds. I’m especially interested in their working relationship, which in many ways parallels that of Derek’s and mine. They are individuals working closely together in no need of individual ownership. They are strong and creative and their work seems to be a genuine extension and expression of who they are as Scandinavian artists working with curiosity about what may be around the corner.

They are an interesting duo and I’m lucky to see so much of their work in the flesh on the studio walls- delicately coloured sculptural pieces, patches of intertwined fabrics, Alexander Calder-like constructions.

I head off after an inspiring couple of hours to find Edith in the quiet centre of town and find a café serving the hottest soup I have ever eaten.

Jo Davies

Studio and Portrait photographs by Andrea Liggins

Hvass&Hannibal site

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Brad Holland

Report from interviews for the Making Great Illustration book. For more info see About

I interviewed Brad Holland for Varoom magazine a few years ago. I remember that at the time the prospect of meeting this giant of American illustration, a hero filled me with both excitement and intrepidation. At the end of that long interview on a rainy December evening he saw me down from his loft apartment to the street below, offering to walk me to the metro so that I could avoid getting wet. I was so buzzing with the thrill of having seen so much of his work and spending so much time listening to his stories about his life and career that I don’t think I would have noticed if it was raining real cats and dogs. That memory really set the tone and having had so much correspondence since that time I feel that I am visiting a friend. New York at any time of year is a thrill to me so that’s a bonus.

Brad lives and works in a iron frame building in downtown Manhattan and as I walk through Soho on a December afternoon, the pavements piled high with yesterday’s snow the air fresh and heavy with a sense of seasonal joviality, I think about the questions I’m going to ask and begin to mentally psyche myself up.

Brad’s artwork looks down onto the apartment, a wonderful large canvas of three greyhounds something to dream of owning. As well as his obvious status as an artist Brad is known for his tireless campaigning for the rights of illustrators and it is this work that has somewhat become a preoccupation seeming to exert unwelcome demands upon his time and pressures upon his life.

Brad seems tired but still enthusiastic to talk about his work and his latest clients with his cat climbing around, purring into the voice recorder. He shows me examples of a commission he is working on for a casino where he is working with the theme of Fish.

It’s a treat to see the pile of visuals that won’t be painted, to see the journey of the ideas and to witness the workings of a keen brain. The paintings are more vibrant in the flesh than they appear on the printed page. Seeing them is a real reminder of the value of the craft of painting using pigment – they are paintings which will be printed.

By the time I have to leave it is freezing and dark and I head back uptown the image of the greyhounds fixed in my brain.

Jo Davies

Photography by Andrea Liggins

Brad Holland Site

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