Saturday, 23 February 2013

Editorial Illustration

The first stage involved looking at illustrations in a newspaper supplement.

One which jumped out at me was in an article by Tom Hodgkinson in the Independent named "Beautiful writing feed the soul". Illustrated by Mark Long the main content of the article discusses how todays youngest are not being taught handwriting and as a result many have terrible handwriting relying instead on computers. He promotes the beauty of handwriting and the illustration emphasises and supports this idea in a humorous way with people holding up a "we want italic" sign which itself is handwritten thereby reinforcing the content. The red, black and white colouring is in line with the overall style of the supplement.

Another article I found is in the letters page area in an article discussing a husbands serial infidelities. The graphic illustration shows women in a wardrobe almost as if they have been discovered by the wife. In this instance I think the illustration adds some interest to the article/ page and almost adds a narrative to the letter which was sent in and being commented on. The simple lines and graphic style of the illustration are clear and don't detract from the words on the page, whereas had the illustration conveyed the same drawing but perhaps with more detail I think the meaning might have got lost and it over shadowed the text.

Other articles I identified in a supplement on parties and entertaining. Illustrations by Jacqueline Bissett are polished with glamourous females represented by fashion line drawings - decorate the text add interest and convey the idea about how the party will be held.

The back of this supplement has an address book section outlining suppliers for products including decor, food, catering, venues etc. Illustrations used are vintage ads which reinforce the quality and sophistication of the parties being planned and add colour and interest to what would other wise be a relatively uninteresting index of contacts.

I also liked the directness of this illustration in the Sunday You Daily Mail magazine which accompanied and article entitled "Why a marriage certificate could keep a roof over your head". I like the literal interpretation of the theme/ topic as I gets the point across as does the simple graphic style of illustration and think it is appropriate but for me personally I prefer softer illustrations with more handdrawn elements.

How a marriage certificate could keep a roof over your head

I then moved onto my sketchbook for some visual brainstorming. The topic headings which most appealed were how green is your food and the best restaurant in town.
I did some sketchbook work around these themes and then did some internet searching to find some sample potential articles these may have been appropriate for.

How green is your kitchen?

Can you shop at the supermarket and be eco-friendly? Only if you drink carbon-neutral tea, says Mimi Spencer
Shopping for food used to be a drab, perfunctory exercise. Stroll to shop; request string of sausages; enquire after Bert's lumbago; pay with huge five-pound note, and head home to mangle the spuds. In 2006, though, the process is fraught with tension, particularly on those rare but unavoidable trips to the s ... the sssu ... argh, I can barely say it. The supermarket. Come on, we all have to do it sometimes. Where else can you buy Branston pickle? (And, no, home-preserved chutney from the farmers' market is not the same thing at all. Just ask your cheese sandwich.) Inevitably, occasionally, you're drawn into one of the great temples of food, lured by KitKats and Heinz baked beans, Hula Hoops and Oxo cubes.Once inside, though, you're trapped in a moral maze. Local, seasonal, organic? Fairtrade, sustainable, ethical? Unprocessed, free-range, farm-assured? And then there's the packaging. If it's dressed like a prom queen, it's out. If you can't tell what it is by looking at it, it's out. If the product weighs less than the carton, it's out. Customers in German supermarkets are unpackaging products at the check-out in protest at the unconscionable waste, a sort of Yoghurt Liberation Front, if you like. Good for them. But why stop there? Why not take Tupperware? We could decant our Branston pickle into reusable tubs, carry Hula Hoops home in trugs or hollow gourds!
Anyhow, the effort appears to be hitting home. Tesco, apparently alarmed by public antipathy towards its general monstrosity and vast profits, is to unveil a 'community plan' and has already installed sun-pipes and a wind turbine at its new store in Diss, Norfolk. Disney, meanwhile, is to end its $1billion Happy Meals tie-in with McDonald's, suddenly rattled to be in such close proximity to all that unhealthy junk food and all those enormous kids.
So, now that even the Tories have gone green, where should the fashion-forward eco-shopper go? Well, if you're ahead of the game, your daily fare ought to be not only PC and packaged in compost, but carbon-neutral. Like the new 'Green Green Tea', available exclusively at Harvey Nicks (where else?). 'We started looking at carbon neutrality a year ago,' says Green Green Tea lady Sharyn Wortman. 'We liked the idea of being accountable, so calculated the emissions from the planting, picking, trucking, wrapping, packing, shipping of our tea - and then invested in wind farms and tree-planting to offset the environmental cost.'
Pockets of carbon-neutral business are beginning to crop up all over the country. My local pub - the wonderful Earth and Stars in Brighton - is not only organic and otherwise switched on, it is also carbon-balanced. The Green Grocers in Norwich is another. 'I was originally concerned that it was a bit flash-in-the-pan,' says owner Ben Binns. 'But it makes sense. To cancel the annual 130 tonnes of emissions that come from the food miles of everything we stock here, we have invested in the Scolel Te Social Forestry Project in Chiapas, Mexico, and Bushenyi District in Uganda. Both projects enable farmers to plant trees, restoring their land to its original forested state.' Binns acknowledges that carbon-offsetting is an inexact and flawed science - given that trees, when they die, give off C02 emissions of their own. 'But it's a start,' he says.
Repaying the environmental cost of doing business is this year's hot potato. And it will soon filter down to a shopping trolley near you. The music industry is ahead of most - 10,000 mango trees were planted in India to make Coldplay's latest album carbon-neutral. Unilever has even developed a solar-powered ice-cream van. It won't make shopping any simpler - those good old string-of-sausages days are long gone. But it might make the world a better place. And, as Green Green Tea's recyclable packet puts it, it's a lot more fun than chaining yourself to a tree.

I then moved on to some visual brainstorming doing some sketching as I read through the piece thinking about the words which were important to capture the elements in the article. 
Ideas included displays of food, supermarket front with seller outside selling organic chutneys, conveyor belt with different foods - packages - green without packets as per article, supermarket with signages - organic etc, a shopping trolley with green products highlighted, planting trees in a supermarket.I then thought about the words which would describe the illustration I wanted to create and came up with decorative to the text, fresh, clean, clear, green and thought that to reflect the content of the article I wanted the illustration to be free from unnecessary or overly complex ideas (a bit like the unnecessary packaging highlighted in the article.)

Looking back to the brief it asked us to move on and create a visual in response to the ideas and asks that we keep in mind our capabilities and confidence we can communicate this into an illustration. I think some of the ideas above are good concepts but was aware they may become over complex and lost and I'm still not overly confident at drawing scenes with lots of information and so wasn't sure how to translate some of my ideas eg planting in a supermarket into an illustration. With that in mind I went back to my sketchbook and thought that something based around actual objects would be suitable. 

I experimented with watercolours and inks and also used a collage style effect. I later worked in Photoshop to manipulate colours. 

Sample of illustration with some text 

Sample illustration front cover of a supplement

Along the way I've been looking at a lot of editorial style illustrations and illustrators and how they tackle different topics and subjects. Looked at Hennie Hamworth who has worked on a variety of campaigns for newspapers, mags and 
I decided to also have a go at the "Best Restaurant in Town" idea and had the idea that something like this might be the heading for a supplement for a restaurant guide. With this in mind I came up with some ideas in my sketchbook including different restaurants in a street, the exterior of a restaurant  with people out and inside with food and wine on the table. 

I've been looking at a lot of sketchy style illustrations and locational work and really like the work of Glasgow based Adrian McMurchie. I love his work for the Herald and his restaurant illustrations which are lose and sketchy yet really distinguishable and clear. 

Adrian McMurchie

Image available from Accessed 1st March 2013.

When drawing buildings and angles etc I'm not sure how important accuracy is and getting lines straight etc but looking at Adrian's work made me think that sometimes even when tackling a very detailed or structured item sometimes simplifying it can have great effect. I'm going to ask my tutor some advice on this. 

I related most to editorial illustrations which were more decorative and perhaps illustrated some feature within the articles as opposed to those which were more abstract. Looking at the work of people like Rhys Bevan Jones I think its very hard to come up for a concept to illustrate an idea, so personally I prefer things which are more straight forward and representational.
The "How green is your food" heading has elements of being decorative, informational and conceptual and I've tried in my illustration to get across the green/eco idea of the article and the elements of the food and I think it been fairly successful.
With the best restaurant idea I struggled with how to convey the "best " concept of the supplement, but I think that the idea of an illustration of a restaurant would be appropriate for the kind of supplement I had in mind. 

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