A Life In Illustration – book review

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A Life In Illustration: The Most Famous Illustrators and Their Work

Editors Robert Klanten and Hendrik Hellige ISBN 978-3-89955-485-4

Review by Derek Brazell

A life in illustration is made up of many things; dedication to craft, occasional struggle, fortunate breaks, frustrations and satisfactions, and all these all combine to make for an intriguing path to follow.

Adding to a (slowly) growing number of books on illustration and illustrators which are reaching beyond merely displaying, albeit interesting, illustration work, A Life In Illustration seeks to delve into how a selection of excellent illustrators from around the world make a living, offering background to their careers from their education and early working life onwards.

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Divided into sections, including Commercial Illustration and Informative Illustration the book’s examples cover a pleasingly broad area of illustration and its applications. Eschewing the merely fashionable, the chosen artists work runs from the info graphics of Jan Schwochow –‘You feel like an archaeologist or a detective at times’- to the dazzling patterns of Catalina Estrada and the thought provoking artwork of Henning Wagenbreth – ‘Illustration per se is uninteresting. Like good art in general it must have social relevance…’ Each artist is given a substantial part of the book, enough space to reveal in depth their background, approach to their artwork and commissioners and the realities of juggling ‘portfolio’ careers or family life and the age old joys of self promotion, ‘Today you can’t just call up a publisher,’ says Olaf Hajek, ‘as they get thousands of portfolios emails.’

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Featured illustrators include Christoph Niemann, AOI members Peter Grundy and Jonathan Burton – whose work graces the cover – Andrea Ventura, Jan Van Der Veken, Liselotte Watkins, Jessica Hische and AOI Patron Oliver Jeffers. Their combined contributions give a valuable insight into the highs and lows, challenges and delights of a life in illustration.

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Other book reviews you may like:

Understanding Illustration

Illustration: meeting the brief


2nd September 2014
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