Friday, 10 October 2014


Illustration Meeting The Brief 
by Bloomsbury (Feb 2014) - Cover Design by Eleonor Rose

Illustration - Meeting the Brief (the book) by Alan Male (*the author).There are a lot of books about illustration, written by professional illustrators, or people who lecture on the subject. The author is a writer, illustrator and an academic, he includes examples of his own work in this book. The wonderfully titled 'Carboniferous Faunascape' (see below) was one that caught my eye particularly.
Alan Male Carboniferous Faunascape

There are four key chapters: 

1.The history of illustration 
2. A working art 
3. Interpreting and meeting a brief  
4. A New Practice:Illustration and Research

160 pages with artworks used as examples to back up that detailed in the text, these illustrations being the work of many illustrators and artists (using a variety of illustrative styles and approaches) are peppered throughout the pages.  Almost 40 pages dedicated to the history of illustration alone and as you will notice by the chapter headings above, Chapter 3 is the only part that really gets to grips about meeting a brief as the book's title suggests. The book is described as an educational guide and that it will act as a guide to anyone thinking about the needs of a client in one hand and also considering the best illustration for the audience, in both an artistic and commercial sense. This book is an ideas generator and will do well for someone requiring inspiration, but, again, the content gives little clues as to how any of the illustrations were actually composed or processed. I'm sure the book will be useful and sometimes enlightening for many. The author's choice of illustrations is expert.
I thought I'd reach for my artist's pens, watercolours and inks and communicate certain highlights within the book.

My sketch work is always original, even when I adopt a copy cat style of illustrating. I presented examples of doing this in the body of a part review of another Bloomsbury title called Understanding Illustration. I link back to that post here

Re: Figure 1 and Figure 2: Photographs taken from the book entitled Illustration Meeting the Brief by Alan Male for the purpose of reviewing 

Figure 2

This time I've chosen three illustrations to emanate, the first is from Chapter 1 under sub-heading 'Where has it come from?' The author includes the work of Jonathan Gibbs entitled Woodcuts (see figures 1 & 2 above) and it was originally produced for the cover of a poetry book by Robert Frost. Gibbs is conveying the traditions of wood carving, using his own way of styling his artwork rather than cutting designs into wood. Like he, I am portraying in a similar way this ancient form of naturalistic art in Figure 3. The kind you find at it most popular in medieval times and reminiscent of cave paintings dating back many millennia; some of my pictorials and symbols are from history that is a little more recent!

Figure 3: Illustration by Debra Hall (Subject to copyright 2014)

A little break in proceedings as I show you, from Chapter 2 of the book the work of illustrator, Clare Elsom just because I like it.
 Figure 4Photograph taken from the book entitled Illustration Meeting the Brief by Alan Male for the purpose of reviewing 

On a more sombre note, the preview page of Chapter 3 shows us a full page illustration by Tobias Hickey called Work Stalker (Figure 5). The author demonstrates how Hickey really nailed it in terms of producing a visual accompaniment to an article about a television producer who received abusive emails and telephone calls on almost a daily basis. This article appeared inThe Mail on Sunday (You Magazine), and we really get a sense of worry and isolation that the individual had to endure. An example of Hickey gaining an understanding for the subject matter and being accurate with message. The key to meeting the brief.

Figure 5: Photograph taken from the book entitled Illustration Meeting the Brief by Alan Male for the purpose of reviewing 

Figure 6

Figure 6 only matches Hickey's illustration in Figure 5 in the respect that it portrays a high rise building. I'm not trying to report or transfer any serious message in this one. You simply might enjoy seeing some big art that I did with my children, where we used some used and dried up old tea bags for windows. My point in showing this in relation to the book and the work of an illustrator is that you can cross with other media practices by including photography, not just of physical objects and real material pieces amongst the more formal art and design work, but straightforward graphic house style will do the job very well sometimes. The author does little more than a mention of this aspect in Chapter 2 under the sub heading Illustration and Industry.

I had great fun with this next page I chose from the book, because this work by, Joe Ciardiello called Rock & Roll HALL OF FAME displays his talent for drawing something which signifies characters that are especially conforming to cultural sensibilities; I've found doing much of the same thing a way of entertaining myself. So here goes! What follows in Figure 7 and Figure 8 is Ciardello, and then myself, promoting a broad genre of music that millions of people around the world will identify with. This work by Ciardello features on pages 92-93 of the book His illustration includes Little Anthony & The Imperials, Run D.M.C., Jeff Beck, Bobby Womack and Metallica. What follows is my version which includes The O-Jays, Madonna, Lady GaGa, Cher, Johnny Marr,  Michael Buble, and Muse
Figure 7
Figure 3: Illustration by Debra Hall (Subject to copyright 2014)

and close ups of both
Figure 9

Note: Photographs shown in Figures 7 and 9 taken from the book entitled Illustration Meeting the Brief by Alan Male for the purpose of reviewing. Figure 10 Illustration by Debra Hall (Subject to copyright 2014)

Figure 10

"This is an opinion piece, but it is professional opinion. I have been reviewing stage for 7 years now, and more recently consumer products and services, and, of course, books. As an ex arts worker I'm a regular blogger of arts and crafts. 

by Debra Hall

*Alan Male has asserted his rights under the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988 to be identified as the author of the book entitled Illustration Meeting the Brief

ILLUSTRATION Meeting The Brief is available at Amazon HERE

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