Not very long ago an artist who was an illustrator wasn't taken very seriously by the pundits of fine art. Those days, thankfully, are gone. It is hard to believe, looking at the illustration above, that N.C. Wyeth struggled for artistic recognition beyond the well known pages of children literature. "-despite worldwide acclaim, he judged himself a failure, believing that illustration was of no importance." Read more here.
Illustration enhances text by providing a visual representation of the subject matter. The illustration may be intended to simplify complicated concepts or objects that are difficult to describe textually. With the addition of endless drawing applications Medical Illustration has gone beyond the charts we see in our doctor's office. Some of the world's leading biomedical, life science and natural science artists are listed in the fascinating database from Medical Illustration & Animation.
The Way Things Work is one of our all time favorite books for kids and adults. Here we can take apart and put together the complicated ideas of machinery and systems. David Macaulay gives diagrams a whole new life in his many books.
Our first interaction to Illustration is often in children's literature and "picture books". What is your favorite children's book illustrator? Here is a sample.
Some places to see original illustrations are:
Brandywine Museum in Chads Ford, PA
National Museum of American Illustration in Newport, RI
Society of Illustrators in New York City.
Of course, illustration is not only inside of books but book covers, posters, zines, and websites. The New Yorker Magazine is the archetype of illustration as commentary on events of the day.
Many artists have often worked as professional illustrators in order to support their careers as artists. And, many such artists have incorporated the techniques of illustration into their artistic practices, or even—and this is more common during the second half of the 20th century—had their illustration considered fine art and exhibited within fine art institutions. Recent examples include the work of R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, and Saul Steinberg. One of the 20th century's most famous artists, Andy Warhol, began his career as a relatively successful fashion illustrator before developing the artistic practice he has become known for.
The NAA has several artist members who are illustrators. You can find some of their work in books we showcase in our gift shop.