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5: Presentation: Zemni 2021 In Process

Reportage Illustration

Reportage illustration as a distinct discipline is a form of visual reporting that covers everything from exotic locations to war zones, enclosed courtroom proceedings to public events. It shares many of the concerns of written journalism and documentary photography, but reportage illustration offers something additional to both of these practices. It provides a different way to understand a place or event; it is visual but it’s often more than just a snapshot.The nature and style of reportage illustration has evolved alongside journalism and the technical development of printing.

Truth in drawing is about trying to capture the essence of the situation, whether it’s an emotional truth, a descriptive truth, or trying to capture a particular dynamic or tension. Getting to the truth of a story might, for example, mean emphasising certain aspects that you want a viewer to focus on.

(Course Guide p45 my emphasis added – illustration is inevitably a subjective interpretation. The key issue is to be aware of that subjectivity and its implications.

Project 2.1 Drawing on the familiar: Aldeburgh

Project 2.2 On Location: Aldeburgh carnival

History of reportage illustration

Reportage illustration has a very long history – going back to stone friezes depicting rules and wars of ancient civilizations, tapestries like Bayeux Tapestries and medieval illuminated manuscripts. 17th century woodcuts were used to illustrate cheap publications called broadsides and later chapbooks or rags (named after the recycled fabric they were made from). These focused on murders, robberies and executions and provided grizzly depictions of victims and consequences.

By the nineteenth century news reporting had widened its scope and, with it, the breadth of material illustrated. As the market for newspapers increased the quality of the illustrations improved with the use of more expensive wood engravings and etchings. It took a while for photography to become integrated into newspaper publishing as a form of journalism, mainly because of the technical issues of printing photographs.

In Fine Art painters at the end of the nineteenth century painted social topics, for example:

Contemporary reportage illustration

Reportage illustration is still practised as a way of providing a viewpoint on hard to document events, from courtrooms where cameras are banned, to personal experiences such as travel that are difficult to sum up in one image. And to convey mood of a piece. Particular sources of contemporary inspiration for my work include:

Frank McMahon

L S Lowry urban landscapes for their perspective and stylisation

and stylistic possibilities of:

Graham Dean  watercolour

Franziska Neubert simple linocuts and woodcuts

Jake and Dinos Chapman: reinterpretation and reworking of Goya and other contentious issues.

Sally Pring for the flat colours

Olivia Lomenech Gill for her very diverse style with gouache, pencil, printmaking, collage

Practical Issues

  • How to draw something that might only be in place for a few moments? It takes practice to analyse a scene and commit the essential elements of fleeting impressions to visual memory, then make those impressions into an image.
  • Initially at least the aim is not to make a finished picture, but to capture information. Focus on the key elements – a person’s face and hands, how they’re standing, the dynamic of a group of people huddled together. You might also have to draw a lot quicker. You’ll need to do a number of drawings. Movements are often cyclical even for people. Decide when to do the background and when to do the people.
  • Interactions with the subjects – how to stop people being embarrassed or self-conscious See some of the hints in Urban Sketching
  • Many reportage illustrators include written notes with their illustrations, reflecting on their perceptions, describing dialogue, thoughts or events. This adds to the personal perspective and gives the drawings a sense of personal identity.
  • Final image: Mood, Media, Cropping, Colour etc

 

 

Categories
1: Voice In Process

 What is illustration practice?

Illustration uses drawing and other forms of image-making to bring ideas and information to life. It involves the ability to think about the content and ideas, creatively develop visual ideas, within ones own visual language or ‘voice’.

Illustration practice covers a lot of different areas and illustrators fulfil many different roles within them. There are many areas of crossover but illustration practice can broadly be organised around functions of:

  • technical: provides visual information to help the viewer understand something from a specialist perspective. This can include for example showing the inside of machinery, architectural illustration, medical illustration, botanical illustration. Technical illustration overlaps into the area of information graphics or infographics, which is a way of depicting statistics and information in visual ways.
  • narrative: tell stories visually is used in many different ways from book covers
    to children’s books, graphic novels to comic strips.Visual storytelling may mean working with writers, interpreting their ideas or re-telling their stories. However narrative illustration also covers illustrators who are also authors, either as writers of children’s books, graphic novels or as animators.The games industry is a new area for the narrative illustrator, providing ways to tell stories more interactively, with multiple endings.
  • editorial: provides a form of commentary through visual means.Editorial illustration covers cartoons satirising daily life, reportage illustrators documenting and reflecting on the world, or individuals using illustration as a means to say something themselves.
  • persuasion: part of the design and advertising industries from logo design to billboards, TV adverts to posters. In addition to commercial clients, public sector organisations, charities, local community groups and others also need to persuade and provide identity through illustration.

In contemporary illustration, developments in digital technology have created new ways of working, printing and distributing work. Some contemporary illustrators have been driven by fringe subcultural activities to explore a range of different roles within urban street art, the writing and illustrating of graphic novels and fanzines, or producing work for sale in galleries. Many contemporary illustrators have blurred the lines between illustrator, author, and artist.