2019_2 | Craft Studios

C5. Editorial Illustration

Robin Cowcher


Studio Inquiry

In this studio we will make editorial illustrations, ie: illustrate articles for magazine, newspaper or online. We'll address a range of subject matter and aim to convey the writer's thoughts, idea or arguments in a visual form.

Editorial illustration can often convey what words can't. We will also use the article as a stepping off point for students' own ideas and thoughts on designated topics. One aspect of the inquiry will be to devise an idea/visual and create a visual metaphor or direction which entices the reader/viewer to engage with complex content.

Publication or editorial illustration fits within a wide context which includes books, magazines, journals, newspapers, online news sites, blogs etc. our inquiry will be magazine and newspaper.

We will investigate and analyse a text for meaning, core idea, essential message for the reader. Once an idea or argument is understood the student will brainstorm and explore their initial visual response. A set of working ideas will be produced and analysed for strength, communication, interest, inventiveness and relevance by the student and classmates. A visual style or response investigated and tested for quality of vision and technique. A solution chosen and executed. The illustration is then placed in the printed context.
The studio will research current and past illustration in this field both locally and internationally, how it's changed over time, both in style and content.

Forms of knowledge encountered will be: an appreciation of some of the foremost exponents, how the form varies from culture to culture, an examination of the power and meaning of some classic images. Students can choose an existing image and look at the story it's illustrating, the idea the artist has come up with and the illustrative technique chosen and give their own assessment of the image's success. This maybe a class activity.
Communication of knowledge
The focus of the studio is to produce compelling, original images which act as vehicles or companion pieces to convey complex ideas, move the reader, influence and add to the text. Editorial illustration can be abstract, stylised, representational, a likeness or a beautifully rendered image.

Students will explore a range of media to interpret their ideas + three techniques of material thinking: collage, ink/line/wash and one other style of their choice through which to interpret their ideas.

They will examine clear and creative thinking, composition, color, technique, drawing, sourcing reference, and should be prepared to create multiple solutions to one story or article. Analysing their work as they go students need to refine and elevate each iteration.
The semester will be broken into three parts: students will illustrate 3 different articles.
An Op Ed article, a magazine cover + a suite of inside smaller illustrations and one more form to be determined, possibly a portrait.

In each 4 week segment students will:
Analyse the given article
Think laterally about it's meaning both narratively and visually
Produce a set of varying thumbnail ideas
Research their iconography and visual metaphors
Discuss and critique in class
Produce working roughs in the designated technique and assess these before...
...producing final finished works

Present final work in situ or context, ie: in a newspaper page or as a magazine cover, considering type placement and any other collateral needed.

Each 4 week segment will have a work shop in a chosen technique, ie: collage, ink/water color, etc...students are free to reinterpret their works in adobe illustrator or whatever digital method but they must start with and produce at least one work in the designated material disciplines.

Other activities covered could be life drawing, outdoor sketching, still life and portrait.

One of the aims of this studio will to build up a body of drawing work which strengthens and deepens observation, experiences various drawing techniques and explores the student's own illustrative inclinations. Hopefully the first two segments give grounding for students to build toward freer choices in the final segment.

Working or experimental drawings which are important parts (but not always germane to the final work) but are of a finished enough standard can be considered part of this folio. Often the work which is done along the away as part of exploring techniques and visual response can lead to new directions and better solutions than first thoughts.
Brief 01: OpEd
Brief 02: Page1+
Brief 03: Portrait
Brief 04: SKO
'The Theory of Illustration' by Alan Male
'The Education Of An Illustrator' by Marshall Arisman and Steven Heller (Allworth Press)
'How To Be An Illustrator' by Daryl Rees (www.laurenceking)
'Illustration: A Visual History' by Steven Heller and Seymour Chwast (Abrams 2008)
'Editorial Illustration: Step by Step Techniques, a Unique Guide From the Masters' by Jill Bossert (Roto Vision / The Society of Illustrators; 1st Edition edition 1996)
'The Fundamentals of Illustration' by Laurence Zeegan 2nd and more recent edition Bloomsbury Visual Arts; 3 edition (August 20, 2020)
The American Illustration annuals series

Society of News Design annuals are a good resource, https://www.snd.org/ for illustration from around the world.
Studio Partner
Communities of Practice
Designing Identity, Designing through Image, Designing Publications, Designing Disobedience
There are many ways of researching editorial illustration, Illustrators Australia and Jacky Winter illustrator agency have many fine examples and The New Yorker has long championed illustration and always has an illustrated cover. The Society of Newspaper Design has strong illustrative content as does the American Illustrators Annual. World wide there are many brilliant editorial illustrators to get to know but most of the annuals tend to come out of the USA. If this is an area of illustration you are interested in I recommend an initial look online and at local magazines such as Frankie, Peppermint, The Smith Journal, Lindsey Magazine, Meanjin etc in this genre.

About Robin Cowcher

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