Greetings My Blog Readers and Followers:
I once again apologize for such a long pause between posts. I have had one electronic issue after another this past few months, two hard drives crashed, a lap top crashed etc. I have felt like I am in the middle of a electronic apocalypse. Instead of my electronics taking over they have refused to work for me to the point of crashing, right down to the point of refusing to turn on and losing all my art work and data. My electronics are killing me slowly by killing my data right in front of me. Thank goodness that I have a client I work for writing and posting fashion blogs, www.fashionmania.com, because she came to my rescue this weekend.
The topic I wanted to write about is one a fellow artist and I have been discussing and debating about and that is what is the difference between Illustration and Fine art. This is a debate that has been going on for years in the art world. Some of the definitions I found on the internet are:
The distinction lies in the fact that art is the idea (brought to life) while an illustration is a depiction (or explanation) of an idea.
In modern illustration the intent is most often the selling of a product. When something noble is put to ignoble ends, there is a deterioration of value.
According to Illustrator Robert Weaver who once stated;
Until the illustrator enjoys complete independence from outside pressure and direction, complete responsibility for his own work, and complete freedom to to do whatever he deems fit– all necessaries in the making of art– then illustration cannot be art but only a branch of advertising.
As many different styles of art there is such a fine line between these two styles, according to my art class an Illustration is an aspect of the imagination that subordinates itself to a story or concept in order to realize a visual equivalent of the verbal idea. Illustration is description executed in a graphic manner rather then literal mode. Whereas artists and illustrators commonly work from the same stock of ideas, they both work from imagination, yet the artist use imagination in its purer sense; – not to describe visually what can be described verbally within a story, but to compose with a more essentially pictorial logic, thinking through images not words.
To me illustration art is more pictorial drawings, and fine art is more imagination centered, from the artist imagination for the viewer’s imagination. This is not to say that fine art does not have a specific meaning or came from a muse, but when viewed the viewer can walk away with their own emotions embedded within the art work not just the specific meaning that is story derived. Take some of the Fine Art Greats; Van Gogh – his works were taken from the world around him but also from within his own head. He saw that world around him, took it in, “twisted it around” before allowing it to flow out to his canvas. Yet, each of us view his work and are moved by our own world of emotions, which we embed into his world painted there on the canvas.
Yet, a great Illustrator like Boris V. takes his paintings/drawings from models and stories that is given to him, such as a, story board music album, books, etc. and places it into picture. This is not to say that either Van Gogh or Boris V. are better at being an artist then the other, they are different styles of art. One moves moves the viewer emotions and the imagination of the inner being, while the other stirs excitement and the imagination of the story.
When you look at Starry night you see a small town under a swirling sky and a bright starry sky in the presence of a looming dark mountain, with out Van Gogh’s title “Starry Night”, however, the viewer may of come up with other ideas of this pictures such as stormy night, due to the swirling paint strokes of white and the stream of smoke coming from the chimneys. There is no back story, no story line, just visual imagination which leaves the viewer to feel the emotion within the painting and develop a story deeper within the painting.
While Boris V. Painting “Magic Ring” could be titled by a laymen, by simply looking at the painting/photograph. The model is holding up her hand and pointing her fisted hand out to a flying dragon and magical force is emitting from either her fist or a ring she is wearing. So, the painting itself is centered around this one force, this one item which is the center of the story line, which in the long run is the center of the illustration. You can learn more about Boris V. here
What do I think? I think there is no real difference, I think that line between Illustration and Fine art is a romantic illusion. This line between Illustrator and fine art has nothing to do with the talent of the artist, or the quality of the work, or its morality, or its intelligence, or even the style of art. It is far too easy to identify examples of illustration that are superior to “fine” art in each of these categories, just as it is easy to identify examples of fine art that are superior to illustration. It hardly takes any effort to puncture any of the theories that have been put out there about these two works, or the categorical distinctions between the two types of work.
The art world creates this illusion due to the class and economic status of the artist, the art world is made up of networking, who knows who, and who can afford what. Fine Art Artist get noticed by those who are able to travel more often, pay submission fees to get into more art shows, belong to more art committees, art networks, etc. Illustrators are those who work in the field that take commissions, produce prints, etc. – in a sense mass produce as much as possible.
Take for example; For the first 30,000 years of art, artists were able to earn a decent living working for kings, priests, pharaohs and popes. Art was commissioned for temple walls and public spaces. It adorned palaces and royal tombs and the homes of aristocrats. Then kings began to disappear from the earth. Popes stopped commissioning new art. They were replaced by a new commercial class, fueled by the birth of capitalism and the invention of the corporation. This class became the new patrons of arts. It’s important to emphasize here that although art buyers and subject matter changed, the quality of the work did not.
Artists adapting to the new business realities yet they found two paths:
The first was to produce what we now call “fine” or “gallery” art for the private class and corporate art collections.
The second path opened as a result of the newly invented printing press: rather than selling a picture to a wealthy patron, artists could now make multiple copies of a picture and sell them for smaller amounts to larger numbers of (less-wealthy) purchasers.
Looking at it this way, Illustration could be considered any artwork that is mass produced or which uses technology to create it, because I assure you if this option had existed during the golden age of Greece or the early Italian Renaissance, the greatest artists would have taken full advantage of it. In fact, when the invention of etching first emerged, some of the greatest artists, such as Durer and Rembrandt, quickly embraced it, and Rembrandt turned to etching as away to sell multiple copies of a single image to Dutch Merchants. In this sense, this would make Rembrandt an Illustrator as well as a Fine Artist, No?
Perhaps the real definition between the two arts is Illustration Art generally reaches a broader audience while selling for lower price, and Fine Art reaches a smaller audience while selling for a much higher price?
I have always considered myself a Fine Art Artist – but during my discussion with my fellow artist he defined me as an Illustrator – once again that fine line waving back and forth…
What is your thoughts on the differences of these two arts? Those who have seen my art, which would you title it?