Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interesting Article: Where have all the book illustrators gone?

 "Charles Dickens enjoyed close collaborative relationships with the illustrators of his novels, but now it's rare to find a picture outside the world of children's books. Is drawing a lost art, or could we be on the brink of a new golden age?"

What do you all think? I know some people who order the British editions of certain novels because they have better cover art where the US edition had a typographic solution or a cover they did not like as well. But wouldn't it be cool if more adult books had illustration including interiors?


  1. This is a rare occasion where the comments are much much more insightful than the article. Although I appreciated the opinions of Quentin Blake.

  2. Good point Chuck, a very entertaining read, especially the comments..."This is absolute cobblers" from (mostly) a distinctive British point of view. The writer/journalists in question certainly got some push-back.

  3. I'm blown away that any art director (I don't care where in the world he's from) would say with a straight face that there aren't enough illustrators who can draw the human figure, and claim that's the reason adult fiction isn't illustrated.

    It wasn't long ago that Entertainment Weekly was chock-full of great illustration, Philip Burke had a great caricature in Rolling Stone every week, and Chris Payne had a portrait of John Maggard every month in Reader's Digest. These artists are still working. With books it may be a matter of fashion and AD's second-guessing their audience. With magazines it's money. The publishers are tightening their belts and illustrators are deemed an unnecessary extravagance. I can handle the fact that times are tough, but don't blame it on lack of talent.

  4. It would be wonderful if it does turn out that e-publishing brings a great wave of book illustration with it. How can we help to make that happen?

  5. This article is definitely food for thought. I agree with Chuck, the comments are the best part. In other publishing news, once again, there was no morning show coverage of the Newbery and and Caldecott winners for the 2nd year in a row...

    This year's Caldecott winner is A Ball for Daisy, written and illustrated by Chris Raschka...

  6. I think it will, guys. I don't even go to large book store chains anymore because the covers are terrible and the art on the inside is always wanting.

  7. I'm not as optimistic. I actually like a lot of the art I see on book covers. This is more true of comics where brand-name illustrators like James Jean and Bill Stout will be hired to do a cover for a story that's less than stellar inside.

    Having physical books that compete with one another on the bookshelf is good for art. Like it or not, people do judge a book by its cover. Publishers know that cover art is more than a part of the product. It's packaging design, point-of-sale and advertising art all in one, so publishers can justify the cost of hiring capable artists and designers to do the job right.

    My guess is when books are sold on the web, starred reviews and word-of-mouth will become a bigger factor in what sells, and they'll be less justification in spending a lot of money on illustration. The only change I've seen with selling books on the web is that when you have art, you have the opportunity to make it move, so illustrators and designers with experience in Flash and After effects will have an edge.

    If an illustrator comes along with the perfect book and illustrates it himself and creates a sensation, he could start a trend, I suppose. But I wouldn't wait around for the technology to bail us out. It's likely to be the opposite. Technology makes publishing cheaper and when publishers get used to saving in one area, they'll want to save in others as well.