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September 18, 2009 / margikimball

It’s another reading!

Hello illustrators,

Here are this week’s questions for the reading. (Phil’s class is welcome to respond too!) You only need to respond to one question, or, if you don’t want to you can post your own question and answer it. Here we go:

1. In this section of the book (pp. 52-99), which is your favorite movement and why? How does it relate to contemporary illustration and your work in particular?

2. Discuss art deco, including the details of its inception, its history and cultural significance. Also, who participated in the movement?

3. In your view, what are the pros and cons of Romanticism? Compare your ideas to contemporary culture today. (Think: how do we contribute visually to today’s culture and create the world around us, or our vision of what it should be?)

4. Explain why the hell the authors casually stated that illustrators are “always willing to follow convention” on page 69.

5. How do movements become movements? If you could create your own movement (and you can) what would it be called and what would it look like? Pictures welcome, as always.

6. Did pulp contribute to today’s culture? How?

7. Compare heroic imagery of the past with today’s visual ephemera.

8. Define Realism, Romanticism and Representation. Then compare.

9. Why does Rockwell matter? (Bonus: Discuss the notion of sentimentalism and how our perception of the concept is changing.)

10. Discuss the ethics of including Push Pin in the book? Talk about who defines illustration and its history.

11. What is the role of humor in art?

Good luck,



Leave a Comment
  1. ula / Sep 20 2009 11:16 pm

    My favorite style discussed during this reading was the Rockwellian. This style centered around the “tried-and-true representational mannerism” that was typical of many styles surrounding this era, however, the difference was that he succeeded in “presenting the ordinary through extraordinary compositions and gestures”. He used real characters (easy to relate to) instead of the invented (and more difficult to relate to) . He “heightened drama and captured a moment” through believable exaggeration.

    I admire this ability to capture the everyday and turn it into something interesting and even intriguing, while also proving/showing a point.

    I believe that this idea can be seen in many works today (such as some political cartoons which stick closely to an event while also accentuating some details) . I know I also strive to create this within my own work (such as the pen illustrations we are doing right now: using a common idea of making breakfast and turning it into something funny).

  2. Clayton Schwarder / Sep 21 2009 5:20 am

    Question #6
    Yeah, I’d have to say that pulp has had a great influence on todays culture. Comic books and movies are quite obviously influenced by this style. “Pulp Fiction” with it’s cast of shadey characters and wild plot is a perfect example. Some movies based on graphic novels like, “Sin City” bring to life more of the intense physical qualities of the characters. The men being, kind of overly strong and brutish, while the female characters have a more extreme sensuality about them,reflecting the pulp style.

    I’d have to say that pulp is one of the more interesting styles, as far as I’m concerned. I like the over exaggerated style where ordinary things are not so ordinary anymore.

  3. timc26 / Sep 21 2009 8:45 am


    The first appearance of art deco (then called Art Moderne) was in 1925, during the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs & Industriels Moderne held in Paris. Art deco was part of an economic reinvention in France, following the first world war. The text descibes the style as a combination of “classical elegance with eccentric madness of Art Nouveau,” capable of giving a sense of sophistication and glamour to almost any subject. The style rose almost simultaneously in most industrialized nations, being used for the promotion of commercial products, Illustration, even the delivery of political propaganda (not the first time art was used as a political tool, but certainly one of the more prominent). Quite a few artists participated in the Art Deco movement, including Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, Norman Price, and Paul Colin. The style maintained popularity for two decades, until art in all forms experienced drastic shifts in focus at the start of WWII. The style returned after the war and is still used in design and illustration today.

  4. Ashlee Cain / Sep 22 2009 12:18 am

    Question #1:
    My favorite movement in chapters 52-99 was definitely the Art Deco movement that flourished after World War I. I love the vibrancy of the images due to the bold colors and geometrical shapes. Image number 87., the cover illustration for Vanity Fair in 1917, very closely relates to the type of painting and illustration style that I like to depict. The poster-like quality of the image provides art that can easily be reproduced for all demographics. It is a lot more contemporary than some of the other movements. It immediately grabs any audience because of the bold statements that are made with each piece due to chunky shapes and strong composition. There is little fuss in the images, its straightforward and clear messages and designs make the works easy to the eye.

  5. Andrew R. Phelps / Sep 22 2009 9:19 pm

    Art Deco Comment:

    I would have to agree and talk a little about Art Deco. I know styles and fashions come full circle and go in and out of fashion, but lately the Art Deco style has had a full revival. Besides the world known Art Deco architecture that remains fashionable like the Chrysler Building, Art Deco style is present in very current designs. The back drop that Conan O’Brien does his monologues in front of on the new Tonight Show could have been taken from stage in the 1920’s. I am curious to know if other people think that the style has staying power and the movement’s aesthetic has proven timelessness, or if the style’s popularity has more to do with society’s nostalgic memories of sleek cars, speakeasies, and the golden age of aviation. For me, the aesthetic inspires wonder, but I cannot pinpoint why. Whether you like it or not, you cannot deny it is a powerful movement in illustration and design history, especially in the United States.

  6. christi3420 / Sep 23 2009 3:38 am

    1. In this section of the book (pp. 52-99), which is your favorite movement and why? How does it relate to contemporary illustration and your work in particular?

    My favorite movement in this section is Art Deco. I just like how this movement affected the decorative arts and how it was seen as glamorous, functional and modern. I also like it because it was a different mixture of several different styles and movements. I think that we still see influences of art deco today. Art Deco is often characterized by using artificial materials such as, stainless steel, glass, aluminum, wood, ect. and we still see these materials used in art and illustration today. I also agree with andrew that the Art Deco style has had a full revival and today, the remnants of Art Deco style can be found all around us through its architecture and visual art which still influences us.

  7. kamount / Sep 23 2009 6:34 am

    #2. Art Deco came in a time after World War I when war torn countries like France, Germany and Italy were trying to promote their exported products to save their dwindling economies. This very commercial form of art was first introduced as “Art Moderne” in a Paris Exposition in 1925. The new art featured stylized and streamlines look of elegance. Air brush became the popular medium for achieving the smooth venire look of Art Deco. The Art Deco movement very quickly became a popular international style, perfect for selling goods to all levels of society because of its sophisticated appearance and alluring appeal. The style shortly left during World War II but made a quick come back post war. Art Deco was culturally significant because it became one of the most popular styles to use in commercial art, the type of art that society is most exposed to. It was not only used to sell modern progress but also to sell the idea of progress and the future.

  8. foshoshine / Sep 23 2009 2:20 pm

    1. In this section of the book (pp. 52-99), which is your favorite movement and why? How does it relate to contemporary illustration and your work in particular?

    I am kind of split between surrealism and pulp because they are both so influential on both my work and modern illustration in general. But I think I will focus on pulp because of the huge impact I think it had on the underground comic book/ graphic novel movement.

    Everything in pulp was exaggerated. The people were either extra muscular or extra sexy and the situations were extreme. Pulp artists peaked the erotic and fantasy interests of their audience (mainly adolescent males). This had a big impact on artists like Robert Crumb who essentially invented the underground movement by taking all of this to the next level with an unfiltered, often times disturbing honesty.

    I tend to go for the more unusually erotic themes in my work because it is a way for both the artist and audience to escape. We can pretend to be someone we aren’t and can see the world in a much more interesting light than we may usually perceive it.

    Pulp paved the way for all that because it was considered a form of escapist entertainment. But it’s much more than just something boys read for fun, it’s really an analysis of who we are as instinctive, sexual human beings. Alot is revealed to us through what peaks our own interests.

    I think this genre probably had alot of influence on modern technologies like video games and RPG and even movies.

  9. Alyssa F / Sep 24 2009 12:51 am

    Q #1

    My favorite style is Surrealism; unexpected combinations of expressive and fantastical elements with realistic ones have always appealed to me in any context. I feel as if this style gives more opportunity to depict things outside the usual scope of illustration– to show people who are not just exaggerated or romanticised but actually _more than human_; to visualize places that only exist inside the mind or in dreams, and to show the eerie similarity with which fantasy and reality often seem to blend into each other.

  10. ekarr / Sep 24 2009 7:59 pm

    My favorite is surrealism. I think we all see the world very differently and surrealism gives us a peak into another person’s reality. Surrealist artists explore their dreams and subconscoius minds within their art, which I think is very fascinating. In my personal art I use a lot of distorted figures in alternate realities, some of which appear in my dreams. Therefore, surrealism appeals to me.

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