Visit The Society of Illustrators in New York City
>> Visit the The Society of Illustrators (SoI) to see for yourself how effectively illustrations express concepts. While there, contemplate how you, too, can use illustrative techniques to help expand your imagination and clarify issues by organizing how you see them.
SoI's current show, The Original Art: Celebrating the Fine Art of Children's Book Illustration, features illustrations made for children's books. These illustrations, however, are not age-dependent or child-like. They are all exceptionally clear and are executed in a way that transmits knowledge and emotion at a glance. With this in mind, after you leave an SoI exhibit, you'll find yourself intuitively aware of a wide-range of concepts, even though you might not have spent much time reading background information.
Observe Exhibits to Learn How to Illustrate
Illustrating forces an illustrator to integrate multiple (sometimes conflicting) thoughts into a picture. Are you interested in learning how illustrators accomplish this? Start by closely observing their techniques. Concentrate on the pictures in an SoI exhibit that you like best by sketching a copy of them into a notebook. While you probably do not have the skill to produce exact duplicates, you will remember the drawing techniques that professionals use to make their points, and some of those techniques are quite simple.
Would you rather create photo-realistic illustrations, even though you don't have the skill? Here's a secret: Trace photographs. To set up photos for tracing, enlarge them to typing paper size, then print. Next, place the print under tracing paper (you can buy tracing paper where school and office supplies are sold) and then have fun reproducing what you see! While there are more sophisticated ways to create photo-realistic drawings, this simple setup will get you started.
Learn More About Yourself Through Illustrating
Self-expression is not limited to words, and, in fact, sometimes words limit self-expression! To help clarify your thoughts, create illustrations about issues in your life. Do you have a problem? Try this: Draw two illustrations. Have one illustration represent your issue and the other of that same issue as though everything were perfect. Creating story-centered drawings like these will stimulate your own thought process so you can more easily move forward.
You can also draw issues (scenes, people, whatever), then clarify your drawings by writing notes at random over your work; a process known as annotating. I often do this while sketching during a trip or vacation. The act of drawing and writing together helps crystallize my thoughts and better remember those contemplative moments. Do you love someone and desire to understand that person better? Draw or trace him or her, than annotate the picture you made. You'll be surprised at what you learn!
Become involved with what you see. Whenever I attend an SoI show, I create my own pretend awards for excellence, then I write down the names of the winning artists and the titles of their works. When I get home, I Google or Bing for more information about these artists. Here are examples of the awards "I presented" during SoI's current show:
- Most Sophisticated: Ed Young, "The House Babe Built: an artist's childhood in China."
- Most Painful Depiction of a Ballerina's Reality: Raul Colon, "Alicia Alonso: Prima Ballerina."
- Most Lively Depiction of Kids: Leonardo Rodriguez, "Home-Field Advantage."
- Most Interesting Use of Scratchboard: Patrick Arrasmith, "The Last Apprentice: Rage of the Fallen."
- Most Real-looking Realism: Chris Van Allsburg, "Queen of the Falls."
- Most Oy, Oy, Oy! Nancy Carpenter, "11 Experiments that Failed."
- The Society of Illustrators: 128 East 63rd Street, (between Park and Lexington Avenues), New York, NY 10065. (212) 838-2560. Hours are 10AM to 8PM on Tuesday, 10AM to 5PM on Wednesday through Friday, and noon to 4PM on Saturday. SoI is closed most holidays.
- Sketch Night: Attend The Society of Illustrators' sketch nights for an opportunity to draw nude models. Also consult their website for lectures, films, and workshops.
- Shop: Buy books and prints that represent many of The Society of Illustrators' featured artists, as well as interesting trinkets, stationery, gear, and holiday items.
- MoCCA - The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art: Visit this "stuffed from floor to ceiling" SoHo museum-gallery. Illustrations seen at MoCCA usually depict stories. Note that the word cartoon refers to a line drawing, or an outline for a drawing. It does not specify a work for children, in much the same way as the phrase comic book does not always refer to a funny magazine.
- Visit MoCCA, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, in New York City: Read this Littleviews' article on MoCCA.
- The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures and Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don't Work: Learn more about the development of visual thinking through these two easy books by Dan Roam.
- Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera: Learn how to expand your imagination and story-telling skills by observing the tricks and techniques of Norman Rockwell, one of the most famous illustrators in the world.
Questions? Ask Karen at Karen@littleviews.com
Article by Karen Little. First published on 11/11/2011. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.