One of my favorite illustrators, Yuko Shimizu, posted an entry about her 15 Influences that stick with you forever. I loved her list because none of her influences were within her field (except for maybe Hokusai). I suspect it is why her work is strong and possesses a clear voice. But her article really reminded me to always look outside and discover beyond the norm. I felt that my 15 influences would actually be within the illustration field, but there are a few artists that have changed my thinking in picture-making definitively. Here are five of them.
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres is a French neoclassical painter. I didn't initially become interested in his drawings right away. I just thought it was "regular" figure drawing, but I read James McMullan's interpretation of Ingres' drawings as empathic. In school you are taught to draw by direct observation (ie: blind contour) and draw articulately (ie: anatomical proportions). "Oh! I have to draw emphatically!" I thought to myself. It was a step beyond observational drawing by feeling what you draw. The softness of a pair of lips and a the rigidity of a clavicle can both be expressed in a drawing. Imagine the hands of coal minor and the hands of a man who has never had to work a day in his life. What are those differences? Ingres' work developed my eye and my interpretation skills when it came to life drawing.
Brad Holland along with Barron, was my introduction to conceptual illustration. His pictures where simple and clear which made it very direct. Coupled with a good concept or idea, his images would make you think. His work is a prime example of strong communication skills and he has written some articulate articles about art and illustration. It broadened my horizons with what kind of illustration portfolio I wanted to set for myself.
What I always liked about David Choe's work is that it is always done with conviction and no apologies. It is often just one spontaneous beam of energy, expressing both strengths and flaws of an artist which usually yields honest results. How to be honest with art and can one create by "not giving a shit." These were two questions that I easily answered through David Choe's art. I am not one for labels but he seemed to have blended the street art, illustration and fine art world together, at least with his pieces. I would almost compare his work and attitude to Eminem when he first stepped into the mainstream spotlight.
I was introduced to Henri Cartier-Bresson by my home girl, Bridget Ore. She went to see a show of his but I couldn't make it. But I found myself always checking out his images. I could picture many of his photos being used as a conceptual piece of illustration. The juxtapositions of his subjects easily manifest some kind of message to be had. But what is most amazing to me is that he doesn't illustrate these pictures, he finds them in real life! I often look back into my sketchbooks in disappointment and ask myself: "DUDE!, Henri! Where the hell are you looking at?!" I wish I could capture real life in my sketches the way he did with his camera.
John Gall is a designer. I first found his art by browsing at Barnes and Noble, most notably the Haruki Murakami covers. There were also a few other books that caught my eye that ended being designed by John Gall. An early introduction to graphic design and using text within an image, John's work led me to the Book Cover Archive. I really like the conceptual subtext and juxtapositions in his work. It was a unique influence to have mix with the traditional painting and articulate draftsmanship taught in illustration classes.