Illustration - Winter 2011 - Issue 30

Commercial reality has always been vital to illustrators – whether it’s understanding the cost of printing or appreciating the limitations on book pagination and print runs. No matter how much someone wants to make their art the primary focus of a project, cost and the market are usually foremost in the minds of publishers and those commissioning work. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it is often these restrictions that bring out the best in the illustrator who has to rise to the challenge and produce something that retains its integrity. Illustration has always been about selling, whether this means making a product more appealing, an article more influential or boosting the career of the artist. In times of economic turbulence, this becomes more important than ever. It remains to be seen whether today’s financial concerns make illustration commissions more or less creative.
This issue highlights several perspectives on the debate. We view the work of Edward McKnight Kauffer, the “poster king” who achieved fame producing cutting-edge artwork to sell everything from airlines to oil and newspapers to museums. We consider the children’s books of Enid Marx, published in the 1940s when wartime economy standards dictated the quality and size of the paper and the colours printed, yet important for “selling” the work of British forces to a young audience. And we interview Brian Grimwood who has not only spent his career working with commercial clients, but has also persuaded them to employ artists represented by his agency. However some illustration transcends any thought of the commercial. When Ronald Searle drew 47 pictures to help his wife through chemotherapy, their value had nothing to do with money. Now brought together in a book, they can inspire a wider audience. We hope issue 30 offers cheer for the darkest winter days as well as a reminder that good illustration brightens the grimmest circumstances.

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