Drawing on location, especially abroad, is another example of reportage illustration work.
For this project I used a trip to London in March. This trip was a weekend break with a boat cruise along the Thames. On the actual journey I focused on sketching and did not take supporting photos to see just how much I could fill in from memory. Then what the lessons would be for future. Also we were travelling fast and I wanted to draw as much as possible. I then produced final images in Procreate four months later, using the sketches directly or combining several into one image. Some were omitted because I did not have enough information or clear enough memory to make them interesting, or they repeated information from other sketches. Some were reordered to make a more interesting narrative.
As with all my work for this part of the course I need to practise my sketching a lot more. Also explore a range of styles for finishing.
Tourist material: Seaside and Railway posters
Here travel illustration tends to be used as a way of promoting a place through tourist material and visitor guides and so can be less concerned with objective drawing. In Europe and North America the railway poster served as a way of presenting these destinations as desirable locations for trips and holidays. The posters were commissioned by train companies and were presented on train platforms and station buildings. Following the current illustrative and painting styles they present picturesque and idealised views of landscapes and landmarks, often with the inclusion of people enjoying themselves.
John Hassal: image of the Jolly Fisherman skipping along the sands in ‘Skegness is so Bracing’
Tom Purvis: bold use of flat colours
Us and them: ‘Exotic’ or anthropological illustration
The danger of any form of reportage representing other people, cultures and places, is that it is framed from the perspective of difference. There is a tricky fine line between ‘cultural interest’ and racist stereotype.
Early travellers and image-makers often took on a voyeuristic and often disapproving tone. Images often make comparisons between different
peoples and are framed within the sense of ‘discovery’ of ‘Darkest Africa’, of the west exporting civilisation to dark and forgotten corners of the world for their own good. These images reflect that message back again, reinforcing the values of western culture.
The same traps exist when visually representing class, poverty or wealth, or in fact any area of life where differences are noticeable.
Research point (to be done)
Source a range of images in which illustrators have created a sense of us and them or ‘otherness’. Read the images and identify how you think they have they done this. Think about how they could have represented the subject differently, to avoid creating such a distance between them
and the subject.
You may want to look at contemporary reportage illustrators, historic examples or browse through the Bridgeman or VAD image archives.
Write a brief summary of your thoughts in your learning log.
I am doing a review here of approaches to illustrating Africa, particularly Ethiopia, as part of my preparation for Assignment 4 and 5 where I will use my own illustrations and look at this issue in depth. I am inspired in this type of work by illustrators like Dan Eldon.
I have also been doing a lot on journeys for my Landscape Photography since doing this project and could incorporate some of the ideas from there into my illustration: