Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ink the Bismarck!

I seem to be getting a lot of hits these days from other artists and I get the feeling that many of them are students or relatively new to the biz. One reason I did my Snark the way I did was that I was hoping to energize young people to lay aside their iPhones and toss away their iNsouciance long enough to take a look at what the old fogeys call Kulture.

The internet is brimming with sugary eye-candy but without at least a foundation in Kulture, you will be hard-pressed to find much of use and more importantly, your tastes will subtly influenced towards the fashionable, the flashy, the cheap-to-produce and worst of all, the pre-commodified.

In short, eat your vegetables and visit a museum, young inksters! And get the heck off my lawn. And wash off those tattoos before you sit down to supper.

The life of a freelance illustrator is a constant scramble to finish one thing whilst simultaneously preparing new projects to propose to publishers. This artwork is part of such a proposal still in the pipeline, a French SF novel from the turn of the last century, translated & illustrated by myself.

In this case, the style I chose for this proposed book was a deliberate homage to the great French SF illustrators of the 60s and 70s, artists like Bilal and Moebius whose work was such a formative influence on me when I was a squirt. Their inking style was a direct descendant of the classical European line techniques which stretched all the way back to Albrecht Dürer's graphic work, work in which he codified and clarified cross-hatching for all time. From Dürer to Moebius is an unbroken line, a glorious tradition embellished by such masters of the pen (and etching needle) as Holbein, Rembrandt, Tiepolo and many more worthy of careful study.

In short, the more historical baggage your style carries, the stronger its muscles will become and eventually it might even set off on some unexpected and very fruitful excursions of its own!


  1. Now that's some excellent advice which I am going to give my own students.
    I for one am glad I eventually moved away from old issues of Society of Illustrators and delved into the Old Masters.

  2. Thank you, Priya … although it is probable that in 300 years, the Society of Illustrators' annuals will be regarded as Old Masters.

    The kids don't realize how hard it is to really look carefully and how dangerous it is to waste this energy.

    Your charcoal drawings are really good, I especially like your drawings of birds and that fish head is superb! Thank you for writing and good luck with your work!