When I first came up with the concept for Illustration Next, I knew my main goal was to present illustrators as fine artists have traditionally been presented. I always believed that the difference between the commercial art world and the gallery world was minimal. Both have clients or collectors to please, both have styles and fads that come and go, and both have creators who place a huge amount of heart and soul into their works. Though there still remains a pretty sizable division between both worlds, I believe that will soon change.
One can see the erosion of the boundary between high-brow and low-brow not just in art, but in music, television, even in the reporting of news. A new pop-star is often scouted for on YouTube; reality-stars garner as much attention as movie-stars; and independent news sites are often more trusted than big news networks. I think the art world is next to experience this upheaval.
The reality of today’s fine art world is that it has increasingly become an exclusive playground for the extremely wealthy and, as a result, art has seemingly lost its purpose in modern society. This is a loss both for the world and for art. The majority of the population is not educated about art history and almost never comes into contact with working artists or their artwork (except, perhaps, for the occasional museum visit).
However, with the rise of illustration, this seems to be changing. Previously, the illustrator was a solitary figure, working alone and “for hire,” but the internet has brought this community together. Illustrators can now instantly view each other’s work, collaborate, and share ideas as never before. It is the illustrators who are in touch with current modes of thought and modern trends that shape the world in which we live. They develop and shape the visual language that the non-artist comes into contact with almost everyday of their life. They communicate with and on behalf of the rest of the world, literally and emotionally. It is because of this relevance that I believe illustration is the most interesting and important section of the art world today.
Within this book, I seek to highlight illustrators working today who I believe are at the forefront of this renaissance – those who understand that illustration has both the power to communicate and to become a higher form of expression.
The book itself is divided into two sections: one which features the illustrator as solo artist, including a brief interview and samples of both their commercial and personal work; and the second part which pairs each artist with another, and shows their collaboration on an open-ended theme. These works are completely original, intended only for this book. I chose which briefs to give which pair of illustrators by instinct. I tried to look at both their bodies of work and select something that I felt was already in their visual language.
I’m sure many of you who visit this blog are already illustration-lovers and probably recognize many of the artists who appear in this book. Yet I believe this book has something to offer that many other illustration compendiums do not have: deeply personal insights into what inspires and motivates the illustrator in their art.
I am grateful for the opportunity to shed light on just a few of the many illustrators who see themselves as artists and I hope that after reading and looking through Illustration Next, you will see illustration in a whole new light.