Library Research

After the initial research I talked about in my last post, here is what I learned from a brief trip to the library, in order to gather some initial inspiration and knowledge from books (and magazines), mainly to do with illustration, but also any other design themes or pieces that jumped out at me. Although I use the Internet for a large proportion of my research as it is always up to date with the latest ideas and trends, I feel actually looking at illustrations on paper is better than viewing on screen.

I won’t specifically go into illustration styles here, that will be for another blog post, but there may be some overlap that is relevant to what I learnt here.

The first thing I looked at was a ‘bookazine’ produced by Computer Arts. The one I was able to look at was Computer Arts Collection Vol 1 Part 1: Graphic Design which I have shown an image of the cover, which I sourced from the above link. The rest of the images for Computer Arts here are taken by me looking through the bookazine, none of the work is my own and are only taken for education purposes. To show my thoughts I’ll number them to correspond with the images from top to bottom.

  1. Multiple portraits. This advert for Florence and the Machine’s album, Ceremonials caught my eye because it focused on an idea I had mentioned in the last blog post I did, where I looked into seeing if multiple portraits could capture different emotions. Although this is not the style I would use if I decided to make a proposal out of it, I feel I know enough now to think about whether it could be a success or not.
  2. Colours. The vibrant nature of the colour spectrum, stands out very strongly and it backs up my thought in one of my sketches whether I could use this colour set against a monochrome background for a visual quality that the audience can’t fail to miss.
  3. Stripes. Most things here are the same as the above point, but the effect of the colour is reduced in the stripes. It also reminded me of a slat blind, and maybe the portrait could be hidden behind them, to make it harder to identify the psychology of the face.
  4. Three colour design. Aside from the lovely editorial design for this spread, I felt the day-glow orange used with the black and white made for an alarming contrast that was extremely noticeable, which is backed up as the colours used for high-visibility jackets etc… Perhaps there would be a potential to use this colour scheme for a vector portrait, although I would imagine the orange is a result of a specific Pantone colour.
  5. Tasteful quality. I find this information graphic, with the use of a black background, grey type, simple shapes and use of colour limited, but just right, makes this a interesting and classy design. Many people who have a portrait done want their best side to be shown and for it to be tasteful, so colours is something I will have to be careful with (especially with the point above!) as connotations of emotions are so stronglyattached to colours.

Next I moved onto the eponymous book, Alex Katz. More details from this book can be found on the Phaidon Press website. I was not familiar with Alex Katz’s work before this research, where he was suggested by a tutor as a illustrator to look into. After looking through this book I would say that his style reminds me of vector illustration, except that it is created in an analogue form rather than a digital one. To show my thoughts I’ll number them to correspond with the images from top to bottom. Anything in quote marks is taken from this book.

  1. Depth of colour. One thing I was surprised at, is how the emotions seemed so real in these paintings. I have created a few vector images of my own in my spare time (not of people) and the one thing I have found difficult is to inject a sense of life into them. And that is where the differences between analogue and digital formats I would say becomes clear, as I think the brushstrokes and the layering up of the image (as he creates the image using the wet on wet method) allowed for a textured feel.
  2. Luminosity. This image captured my attention as it was so bright, and how the use of pale colours made the face ‘glow’ combined with the unblemished smoothness of the skin makes this a very appealing picture.
  3. The creation of a painting. With many painters, I have seen it is common either to sketch a base drawing on the canvas and use it to paint to, or just paint straight onto the canvas and build the image up from there. What I find fascinating here is that the book details how when he paints, the wet on wet style restricts him to painting it all at once, so preparation has to be done beforehand. To do this he begins by creating “gestural drawings” in ink, as an initial concept, then he moves onto oil sketches, where “he tries to sustain the energy that gives an image its strength” then pencil sketches “which show the flow of light – the modulation of tone – with exquisite  almost finicky precision” before finally he creates the painting.

So what have I learnt from this research?

I feel this research has benefitted me as I am starting to focus my attention onto the styles of illustration that could be used as well as thinking how I can communicate this to the audience. I have also gained some ideas to reinforce my initial concepts I showed in the last blog post. The next post will be written after I have been to London, to see a couple of exhibitions, which should help my research immensely.

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