For the third time in a few months, I’m drawing in someone else’s style.
It just suddenly struck me… I couldn’t avoid the absolutely horrible thought that maybe I’m not seen as having a particular style. The other side of that coin is that I’m a great counterfeiter which can be useful.
I guess it comes with the ’24 styles’ territory.
Robert Hichens’ style
A few months ago, the much loved illustrator Robert Hichens passed away, and one of his clients asked me to carry on with the job he’d been busy with, for schoolbooks in Namibia. That was a very poignant job. Some of the roughs were already done, and I had to bring them to the final stage. I investigated his facebook page to get a deeper understanding of how he drew and what was typical of his style.
I guess we all have definitive characteristics of our style which even in my case goes across all the styles I use. In Robert’s case, he would sometimes airbrush shaved heads with a tint of black, so there was a suggestion of hair. (Didn’t do it on this pic.) And he had a knobbly sort of stroke in his line, and whatever the figures were doing, the poses were easily readable and as simple as possible. I mentally asked his departed self* how on earth he did that knobbly line, and immediately the answer came – ‘scattered mode in Photoshop brush presets’. So I went there and it was all easy from there. He has a simple style for children’s educational books, easily ‘read’ by kids who are newly visually literate. It was strange and interesting, like visiting a new country and experiencing their language, going into their homes…
*Well what would you have done?
Tasia Rosser’s style
Another job involved three posters based upon book illustrations by Tasia Rosser, who was mentioned one or two blogs ago. Here the proportions of the kids were so utterly cute, and again I saw echoes of Robert’s style, in the simplicity and playfulness of the treatment. I had to keep telling myself not to get too realistic and formal which would move too far away from the cuteness…
Unknown artist; Art Deco style
Finally, the last example: a rework for a new client who’s developing work for a food and beverage label. For reasons of discretion, I will post only a detail at this stage. The background had started out as a pastel drawing. It then progressed through a simplification and flattening process using CorelDRAW by a second artist. Finally it arrived on my screen for ‘posterisation’. In this case that meant some hard edges in the Art Deco style popular on posters from the Thirties. I loved every minute of this. It’s not too far removed from my icon style but of course the subject was very sophisticated and specific to that time. After I’d completed the entire first picture in this style, the background was changed back to what it was, and only the figures stayed hard-edged. This worked better – it brought them forward and knocked the background back to where it belonged.
Having generated original work and reinterpreted the work of others, I cannot really say which I prefer more. Working out an original composition takes time and effort, but it’s also fun and one has a degree of creative decision-making and control. Fortunately, (so far) I’ve been lucky and really enjoyed what my cohorts have come up with.
It’s been an honour to complete/enlarge/reinterpret their work and their styles.