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Practice makes imperfect: An introduction to the re-forming of mark-making in contemporary illustration

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This article provides primary insight into an illustrator’s complex relationship with basic tools (pens), and describes a body of work devoted to redefining the status of experimental drawing practice within communication design. The underlying motivations for such intervention include conventions of storytelling in illustration, set artist profiles and predictable guidelines of industry standards. To introduce readers to this specific discipline of drawn innovation, a guide to ‘mark-making’ dominates the text; it articulates the marked-aesthetic as a sophisticated yet primal visual language, made up of patterned punctuation and textured thought. By regularly referring to detailed accounts of such techniques in use, and elaborating on the substance of specific mark-based projects, there is a trail of the ‘tried and tested’ set out to contemplate and a practical invitation of experimentation to follow. As the illustrator quickly outlines the fundamentals of what traditional illustration is, she begins to fill in a picture of what contemporary illustration can be if it continues to challenge the materials of its constitution and welcome into its meaning more conceptual narratives.
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Keywords: experimentation; illustration; mark-making; pens; signatures; substance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Royal College of Art

Publication date: 01 August 2016

More about this publication?
  • Illustration is a rapidly evolving field with an excitingly broad scope. Despite its cultural significance and rich history, illustration has rarely been subject to deep academic scrutiny. The Journal of Illustration provides an international forum for scholarly research and investigation of a range of cultural, political, philosophical, historical, and contemporary issues, in relation to illustration. The journal encourages new critical writing on illustration, associated visual communication, and the role of the illustrator as visualizer, thinker, and facilitator, within a wide variety of disciplines and professional contexts.

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