Monday, 13 February 2012

illustration advice
from the horses mouth

Whilst browsing the blog of David Foldvari I read the following advice and thought it deserved repeating here.
I know it's a big ugly chunk of type but this is good advice from a very successful practitioner. If you're looking to become an illustrator it would be stupid to not take heed...

"a quick message to all illustration students. I've been getting an overwhelming amount of emails from students referencing my work for various projects and essays, and rather than copy/pasting the same reply to everyone, here is a little bit of advice:

if you study graphics or illustration, my most serious piece of advice to you would be to stop looking at my stuff for inspiration as soon as possible. if you want to be genuinely inspired or influenced by what i do, then look outside the tiny and insignificant bubble that is contemporary illustration. watch films, read books, look at other forms of art and design, learn about what's going on around you - anything that takes you outside illustration. despite of what your tutors may tell you, as an illustration student, referencing and studying other contemporary illustrators' work is not only going to damage your own work, but it will only help to homogenise and water down illustration as a whole. there is a big problem with illustration students at the moment - they are spending too much time referencing and copying other illustrators' work, and this will end their career before it has a chance to start. i'm only stating the obvious here, but as a student, you should do everything to make sure your work looks nothing like anybody else's out there, otherwise it will never be noticed, and you might as well get a job in mcdonalds.
i and most other working illustrators i know generally go and see a lot of degree shows, and anyone referencing other contemporary illustrators tends to be seen as ignorant and a bit second rate and crap - nobody wants to see the same old, but we all love seeing things we've never seen before, it's what moves this industry forward. as a new graduate, it's your job to move things forward, and by referencing other illustrators, you are doing the opposite.

so if you're using me as your contextual reference (or whatever), then do the following:
- stop looking at my work for inspiration, it is based on my own background and cultural references, and therefore no use to anyone but me
- look instead at your own cultural and personal background for inspiration, it's what i do
- look at 20th century graphic design and see how much of it you really understand. (i wish i had studied that stuff more at college)
- look at every piece of work you've done over the last year - how much of this work do you feel represents you as a truly unique individual, and how much of it is 100% different from what everyone else is doing? unless the answer is 'all of it', it's time to re-think everything. (i'm not saying i'm exempt from this rule, i have to remind myself to do this a lot).

your tutors have a responsibility to educate you properly, and if they're making you reference nothing but contemporary illustration, they are failing massively. it's your degree, you should demand more.

that concludes my rant, feel free to prove me wrong by showing me amazing new work. there's a lot of new talent out there, it would be good to see some of it put to use."


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