Monday, April 18, 2011

the stylist

Can you help me identify these two vintage caffeine-fed babies I found at a thrift shop? They seem to be jack and jill, mascot for a particular brand, or hansel and gretel.

An illustrator can be a stylist. I realized that for children's books, style doesn't need to be consistent for the illustrator's entire body of work. I think that each story has its own unique ambience or mood that the illustrator should create. Every illustrator can have their own take on a story. But I don't think an illustrator should render the same style to another story. Unless it is a part of a series, it will create confusion whether it is a continuation of another story rendered in the same style or a totally different story. Style should rather be progressive or "translatable" to succeeding works. Or, if style persists, then it should match the spirit of the story. What should be consistent is quality.

Maurice Sendak perfectly sums up my view on style, quoted from Humorous Illustration by Nick Meglin:

"Style to me is purely a means to an end and the more styles you have, the better. One should be able to junk a style very quickly. I think one of the worst things that can happen in some of the training schools for illustrators is the tremendous focus on 'style' as preparation for coming out into the world and meeting the great horned monsters—book editors—and how to take them on. Style seems to be one of the things you learn as a defense. It's a great mistake. To get trapped in a style is to lose all flexibility. I've worked very hard not to get trapped in that way. ...

Each book obviously demands an individual stylistic approach. If you have one style, then you're going to do the same book over and over. That, of course, is pretty dull. Lots of styles permit you to walk in and out of all kinds of books. It's a great bore worrying about style. My point is to have a fine style, a rough style, a fairly slim style, and an extremely fat style."

Now here comes a personal dilemma: I did some illustrations using a different style that wasn't originally my intention nor enjoy rendering, the style was suggested by the client for me to pursue. I know I can render anything from realistic to whimsy, and the illustration profession is not for ego's sake, but my confidence level went down because I felt my vision for the story was extremely compromised. I felt I was merely an "illustrator" and not co-creator. I was thinking perhaps if I sticked to one style that I really love doing and be proud of, I would have been much happier working on it. Were my friends correct all along when they said staying to a specific style is better in the long run?

The eternal question is, should I persist or digress?


zeus bascon said...

SERJ! ang galing galing mo. magturo ka na, mageenrol ako asap!hehehehe

Sergio said...

ZEUS! nye, practice lang 'to. hahaha. Ikaw kaya magblog, interesting din malaman ang story behind your works. Kelangan natin magdocument kasi walang pang gaanong primary sources sa illustration side (locally).

zeus bascon said...

actually onga.wala nga masyadong local. anyway try ko.hehe di kasi ako nakakapagdocument gn maayos e. try ko tlga!hehe

Triannas Treasures said...

I think those are the campbells soup kids.

Sergio said...

COOL! thank you Trianna for the leads! :-)