Art is a very effective tool not only as a communication medium but also as an expression of thoughts and language of written communication laid down as figures, pictures and illustrations. Illustrators and photographers highly influence the way we look at and interpret designs, and in whatever art design they produce, they always have a particular message that they want to pass across. This research paper will discuss the contemporary design of a specific design era within 1900-1959. It will also feature two famous illustrators from the contemporary era (1900-1959) and the modern contemporary period (21th century) (McLean, 2007).
Illustration has been a method of visual communication which is widely use in print ad medias. This consists of different techniques in which the artists employ in able to come up with the aim to express what is written by visual illustrations. These types of illustration are commonly a sense of interpreting what is written either as an illustration of a statement of the verbal explanation of the writer to an illustrator. Visuals are very common and it had created a number of lot of reactions generated by a single illustration in itself. Famous illustrators had been devoting their time like other artist by giving life to the characters of a book or to the context of what is needed to be explained (Digolo & Mazuri, 2005).
The use of illustration in designs serves as an efficient way to present a very vivid idea that works in harmony with the theme to attract people with advertisements. Images contribute a very big influence to help make the product realistic. In modern times, many art collectors and design enthusiast had shown great interest with original art works specifically in picture illustrations found in book covers, magazine spreads, posters and many others. Museum exhibits had utilized these types of collections to cater to a new group of collectors together with magazines and art galleries who have dedicated a specific place for these works of illustrators from past and present alone. In the world of visual arts, most often, the graphic and fine artist are recognized more than the illustrators. This should not be the case as they too are very good contributor to the art world as they are the ones that also sends a unique message across the socio-economic, educational and psychosocial aspects.
The history of illustration and design had shown a tremendous paradigm shift which is influenced by the changes in time. Some of the most important changes are:
- 1890-1920: Also known as the “Golden Age of illustration” wherein the print media is considered to be the primary medium used in communication. The use of illustration was more evident than photography; the illustrators at these era were at their peak of being in-demand and were celebrated as artists of high reputation. The Visual advertising became a serious force at this time and age (Grady, 1955).
- 1920-1950: The illustrators steadily lost position to the re-emerging photography; in these years, it shows a lot of diversity that made a division between fine arts and illustrations where, in due time had downgraded the status of the latter. Pulp fiction and pin ups became in demand at these years (1930-1950).
- 1950-1970: The magazine dominance has started to kick-in but later on started to dive in the year 1950s because of the popularity of the boob tube; This created a challenge with the younger illustrators who became more and more experimental and conceptual. Here, the fresh field of graphic design captured much of the self-sufficiency and creativity input given by what illustrators formerly have. Noting that more studios started to close shop and proportionately leaving illustrators to become freelancers (Grady, 1955).
- 1970 – 1995: As this era started to arrive, the editorial illustration had given new hopes to illustrators where they have enjoyed much freedom of speech and prestige and after the year 1990, to the illustrators cheap “stock” art began to ruin illustrator’s livelihoods this has created a blow.
- 1995 – 2020: This is the year where most illustrators started to self advocate collectively; It had given the chance to do underground commix to be able to rejuvenated the industry and made illustration trendy, fashionable and stylish again in fine arts and design. Many illustrations found new roles in animation and new media, and new respect as creative leaders, scholarly interest in illustration began to re-emerge.
Illustrators from Then and Now
a) Jessie Wilcox Smith
One famous illustrator in the contemporary period of art design and illustration is Jessie Wilcox Smith. She was born in Philadelphia, USA in 1863. Her influence came from her professor Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Drexel Institute under Howard Pyle. With very good mentors she became a full-time illustrator who specializes in drawing children. Some of her famous works includes: A Child’s Garden of Verses (1905), The Water Babies (1905), Alice in Wonderland (1915), Little Women (1915) and Heidi (1922).
Smith’s mature work is in no way close to her mentor’s, but contains more resemblance to that of the works of Edward Penfield and Toulouse-Lautrec who are famous poster artists. This is described as an echoing of what is called the contemporary graphic approach emphasizing on an auxiliary but expressive charcoal line, somewhere between the fluidity of Art Nouveau and the squareness of the arts & crafts movement. Together with outstanding draughtsmanship this style and her stalwartly designed compositions, (often unusual because of their view from the child’s perspective) inspired a school of followers. Smith worked most comfortably with charcoal, often adding watercolor washes, occasionally varnishing over the drawing to add highlights in oil (Hope, 1952).
b) Gerald McDermott
McDermott believes picture books deserve high artistic standards. “A picture book of artistic integrity will often be the only place where a child can expand his imagination and direct his gaze toward beauty,” he remarked in his Caldecott Medal acceptance speech, as printed in Horn Book. “In form and content, the picture book can become an essential element in the child’s evolving aesthetic consciousness, and the artist creating a picture book has an opportunity—and a special responsibility—to nurture the development of his young audience’s visual perception.”
McDermott was born in Detroit, Michigan, and his parents enrolled him at the age of four in classes at the Detroit Institute of Arts. “Every Saturday, from early childhood through early adolescence, was spent in those halls,” he recalled in Horn Book. “I virtually lived in the museum, drawing and painting and coming to know the works of that great collection. I’ve kept a brush in my hand ever since.”
The aesthetics of Wilcox vs. McDermott
“Contemporary lifestyle and children’s illustration; blending traditional techniques with digital technology”
Her credits include some of the most recognized pieces of children’s literature. Charles Kingsley’s “The Water Babies” features stunning illustrations that have Smith’s distinct artistic style. Beauty, color, and life exist in those smooth curves and minute details painting life under the sea. “At the Back of the North Wind”, George MacDonald’s classic children’s tale, includes some of Smith’s most notable pieces — in particular, the illustration of the North Wind herself, with flowing hair and midnight colours.
Her work also included classic fairy tales, such as Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and the Goose Girl, all devoting attention to colour and detail, featuring childlike faces and fairytale splendour (Nudelman, 1990;1991).
An acclaimed picture book artist, Gerald McDermott is motivated by an elemental interest in myth. Through films and books, McDermott has re-told classic folk tales from many different cultures, introducing new generations to the power of myths and trickster tales. Although he began his career as an award-winning producer and director of animated films in the 1960s, McDermott is best known for his innovative picture books that have earned him prestigious awards such as the Caldecott Medal.
Blending modern design techniques, vibrant colors, primitive art traditions, and straightforward narratives, McDermott’s books aim to depict archetypal folk symbols that elicit universal understanding (SLJ, 1992).
The Historic Movement of Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau, or the French term for “New Art,” is a colorful movement in the arts that captivated Europe during the transition from the 19th century to the 20th century. In other languages, Art Nouveau had other names, such as “Stile Liberty” in Italy and “Jugendstil” or “youth style” in German.
Right before art lovers would begin riding in motor cars, watching moving pictures, and bracing for the First World War, they would flip through bright magazines of Art Nouveau styles. This cultural movement included decorative and applied arts, architecture, and painting during the years 1890 to 1905.
According to the “Grove Dictionary of Art,” Art Nouveau also served as an important link between Neoclassicism, which focused on classic art periods including Greek, Roman, and Renaissance themes, transitioned art to the modernist movements. Art Nouveau ended at the same time as Cubism and Surrealism were beginning.
What sets Art Nouveau apart from the Neoclassicist forms of art is the attempt by its artists to create a truly new form of art that did not mimic the past. The movement also sought to create an international style. When tourists visit Paris in the 21st century, it is easy to look around and see the lasting impact of Art Nouveau designs, including prints, pictures, signs, and wallpaper in public places and in the windows of cafes and brasseries. In European hotels preserved from this time period, architecture and interior design examples survive today much like the boutique hotels of Miami’s South Beach preserve the Art Deco style of buildings and interior design.
Illustrator’s Aesthetics Influence with Design
Fashion designing is the application of aesthetics and designs to clothing and accessories. Fashion design is mostly influenced by cultural and social freedom. One does fashion design depending on the location and social influences. Fashion designers can either work alone or work as a part of a team. Fashion designers work to satisfy the consumers’ aimed design, however, fashion designers must bring the garment in the market in a matter of time. They need to anticipate consumers changing taste at times. Fashion designers create clothes that are functional and pleasing. They need to consider who will wear the garment and the place it will be worn. They are knowledgeable regarding the materials, colors, styles and patterns to be combined for a specific design. Famous designers include Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior, Gianni Versace, Coco Chanel, and Yves Saint Laurent.
Prada Fashion Designs: Defined
Prada is an Italian fashion label that specializes in luxury goods for men and women. The brand was founded by Mario Prada and was established in Milan, Italy in 1913. Prada’s design for clothes, shoes, wallets, belts, handbags, accessories, clothing and shoes are highly fashionable and very pleasing. Prada has increased its popularity during America’s Cup Races in 2001.
The Beauty of Christian Dior Designs
Christian Dior is famous with his drawing sketches for hats. Dior founded one of the world’s top fashion houses. He has made a new trend set for Parisian women in his first collection. He made designs that made women appeal feminine and corporeal. He was an influential fashion designer and helped re-establish Paris as fashion capital after the war in Europe. He died in 1957. Most of his drawings and sketches can be tracked down to the influence of Jessie Wilcox Smith.
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