Saturday, June 9, 2007



SUIT
is the theme of this week's Illustration Friday. I was initally stumped. I don't have a lot to do with suits as a general rule, business suits that is. Then my mind relaxed and my thoughts widened and I realized Oh yeah: suits of armor, lawsuits, suits of cards and... bathing suits! And I had done this piece just days before. How I enjoyed painting the red stripes on the little guy's bathing suit!

Some back story: I'm in a group of local artists that meets once a month for mutual encouragement and critique. The last meeting was a few days ago, and I decided to bring in a print-out of this piece and a couple of others like it. As soon as I stood up and cheerfully announced "I'm doing some illustration now!" I realized I'd made a big mistake. The pieces circulated to awkward silence. Finally someone cleared their throat and asked "Why are you doing this?" People then started chiming in with suggestions for alternate ways for me to make money: teaching, web design etc. ANYTHING, it seemed, except illustration! I was taken aback, didn't say much, and resumed my seat quickly.

Later I spoke with a friend who is in the group. "Is the work really THAT bad?" My friend said "No no! You've got it all wrong. It wasn't the quality of the work the others were objecting to: it was the fact that you used the dread word Illustration!" Her insight shocked me, but mulling it over, I suspect she is right. I myself don't think that way: fine art v. commercial art. It is ALL just art to me! So it never occurred to me that other artists would have any issue with it either. But these, apparently, did.

Before the art group debacle, I'd queried a little children's magazine and yesterday I got back an e-mail from the art director telling me they love my work and are going to find an article for me to illustrate in an upcoming issue! It is not a sure thing, or even that big of a thing, but I'm thrilled. The praise felt like balm to my wounded confidence! Has anyone else ever run into similar peer issues working in both "fine" and "commercial" art? It just seems so silly to me...!

Little Lake, micron ink pen, watercolor, Photoshop "neatening".

32 comments:

bookbabie said...

Nice illo, don't let your artist friends get you down, there is no right or wrong way to be creative. If you enjoy it, then as Nike says, "Just Do It":)

buep said...

Comercial or not, beautiful work!
And you know what? Artists also want to eat sometimes ...

Britt-Arnhild said...

I love the way the bathsuit is reflected in the poddle.
Good luck with your "illustrating" :-)

MVillos said...

Great work.

We artists weren't blessed with a talent not to share it. Creating art makes all of us happy, and if we can get paid to do so, and support ourselves and our families, stand up proudly and let the world know that you are an illustrator!

Best wishes!

Bobbie said...

I love your charming illustration... it has such a poetic feel to it. Thank you for your comments on my blog the other day. I've experienced the disdain from professors regarding illustration vs.fine art. It's so silly...art is art.

SweetMissDaisy (Anna Wight) said...

Like others who've commented, I've had crits suggest that what I do is not "art"... one professor when I was in college suggested that to be an ARTIST, one must be able to make a statement with only a splash of red paint. While I suppose some might find that true, I think it's a load of hoooey. =) Your illustration is perfect... expressive, tells a story, evokes memories and experiences. That's the perfect kind of art in my opinion. =)

Hung Lin said...

love your water colour, it simple, but effective in every way.

md said...

lov the reflection in the puddle nice work

ValGalArt said...

I sure do love this illo! Especially the reflection in the puddle! Yes, recently someone said yes I am an artist too, but i'm a fine artist! I must have looked at her the way you did to the group. I don;t think in these terms, to me that is an old way of thinking it's all art! Carry on nb you are doing just great!

Rrramone said...

The irony is, that whether you sell your "fine" art or sell illustration, they are both commercial art. Unless one is creating strictly to express something they want to express, then it is all the same thing. I find that distinction ridiculous in most cases.

I also believe that some of the most amazing art created in this country is done as illustration projects...

Princess Pepper Cloud said...

There is nothing more nobel than an illustration artist! Why did I start to draw when I was a little kid? The illustrations in the Frank L. Baum, OZ series, Lewis Carroll, Robin James' watercolors in the Serendipity Books, Beatrix Potter and of course Dr. Suess. And don't forget the new classics such as Stellaluna (beautiful paintings) and Jane Chapman's "Bear" books? Art is not about impressing others, it's about the lasting impression it leaves.

the enigma said...

i so love the reflection on the poodle and the lake. nice illo! and i don't get art too...i mean, i find some of the great arts are in illustration works, and i just don't get why a 'silly' painting could worth thousands of bucks.. i just don't get it.

Jessica Wong said...

This is lovely! I like how you do the reflection.

nina seven said...

I love your illo and the story you told about your group was amazing to me. Art is art and I am continually amazed at the creativity in illustrations. I'm happy about your "maybe job". Go for it!

Ginger*:)* said...

Nancy your illustration is just wonderful. I love little kids, water, puddles, the beach and colorful bathingsuits. To me, art is from the soul. Call it whatever you will it speaks from the heart of the creator. I do know of the distinctions made between illustrators and fine artists, but having studied as a fine artist and painter, I found wonderful transition into illustrating for children. It is the happiest of all worlds for me. Appreciation and creation of all forms of art allows us to be spectators, participators, and adventurers, no matter what we are called.

studio lolo said...

This is a wonderful illustration Nancy...a fine piece of art! My blood boils a little when I hear this mindset come up like it did for you. I was hired by a local designer to do an outdoor bank mural in Carmel, Ca. The art association was in an uproar because number one, it wasn't put out to bid, and number two someone said "she's an illustrator, not an artist!" She was referring to my 2 children's books that are published, but the ironic thing is I didn't get to illustrate them! This woman's work is not particularly to my liking but she makes an incredible living at it. The committee had me in tears several times throughout that project. Finally one guy on the board said to leave me alone, he thought I was doing a great job. So now I have a 6'x33' mural right in the heart of downtown Carmel! Illustration Friday has been the best thing I've stumbled upon. It made me go back to a passion I have and now will focus on once again. I love the support and encouragement I get here! Here's to art....all kinds! Congrats on the gig too :)

Emila Yusof said...

Great piece, Nancy!

constance said...

I like how you did the reflections :) Very nice.

isay said...

i would enjoy doing the red stripes, too! this is a lovely illustration!

cata said...

For me, you are a great Artist!
Bellissimo il riflesso nel acqua!
Cata.

Kathleen Rietz said...

Very nice, like this one! I really like the colors you chose and the reflection of the child in the puddle. Feels like a relaxing summer day at the beach. : )

P.Sarah. K said...

the illustration is wonderful...reflection is the best

I am hearing a lot about this commercial art vs fine art...is it a real problem?? i read abt the same in many articles..i am trying to decided to which path to follow..i want to a degree... this is vy confusing..

Michelle Lana said...

lovely drawing! great job!

mike r baker said...

Sweet illo! And congrats on your illustratiing a children's mag! I hope it generates a lot more work for you.

Art is the creation of something that envokes an emotional or intellectual response through one or more senses. An illustrator can do fine work that can rival any "fine art." Ask these "artists" if they feel Norman Rockwell was a hack? All he ever did was illustration! And artists troughout history have always done commissioned work. Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel was comercial art. Seriously.

Monica said...

Very sweet illustration, Nancy. Lovely colors and lines and you did such a wonderful job with the reflections on the water.

Interesting comments on the fine art vs commercial art. It's not surprising, though I agree with most of the comments you got. Art is art, and some of the most beautiful work I admire come from professional illustrators. There's room for everybody, really... :-)

Nancy Bea said...

Hey, everybody, thank you so much for your wonderful and supportive comments! I guess this was really a case of preaching to the converted, or begging the question, since we are all pretty much in agreement on the subject of fine "v" commercial art. It is all Art! ! But I was truly fascinated by your different responses. This IF community is really a blessing. Thanks again!

mike r baker said...

And one more thing!...

Nancy, this whole "commercial vs. fine art" thing was still bugging me so I looked it up on the Web and found this (the first commenter makes some points I also made):
http://www.artrenewal.org/articles/2004/Illustration_and_Art/art1.asp

I highly recommend you read the whole thing (2 pages). There are some strong arguments in favor of illustration as art.

I am biased (heck, I think Looney Tunes are fine art!) but these essays will give you (and me, and anyone else) confidence in illustration as fine art.

Here's more:
http://illustrationart.blogspot.com/2006/01/fine-art-vs-art-thats-mighty-fine.html
and this glowing endorsement!
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0HMU/is_6_31/ai_n6116676

mike r baker said...

Oh, dear... I'm afraid those URLs aren't showing up well.

I posted them here:
http://mikerbaker.com/knack/?page_id=179
(illustration vs. fine art)

mike r baker said...

And another thing!!!

Sorry, just had to say this: I admire and love your work and would gladly hang it on my walls, regardles of if it's defined as fine art or illustration.

JRJ said...

Wow, sorry you had such a sour reception for your work---I too would have been concerned they didn't like it! To hear it was a conflict between commercial and fine art surprised me---I too see them both as being art---quite fine actually!

R2K said...

: )

Fran├žois Boussuge said...

I think as Rrramone : some of the best artists at this time are illustrators. The only thing to take in account: keep in touch with your subconcious, don't just fit to communication. Sorry for my english!