We have recovered an interesting article from another issue of Illustrators Magazine from the 1980’s Issue no. 40.
This article introduces the voices of illustrators, agents and art editors, sitting in a pub, discussing the role of the AOI, rising/falling standards within the profession and the illustrators role – subservant to the demands of the industry or an active creator/initiator? Compared to the 80s, the role of the illustrator is arguably more diverse. The panel talks about photography dominating editoral, but this has changed over the years.
Many issues raised are still relevant today, if not more so. Prospects for students leaving education remain the same – not knowing what to do, not getting anywhere, and sometimes not trying. Agent Chris Meiklejohn reveals “what’s quite amazing is that they all go on holiday first. When I see students in October and ask where have you been since July, and they say I went round Greece.” Travelling and the almost compulsory gap year definitely still exist.
Illustration by Syd Brok
Debates about agents – do you need one? It’s perfectly possible to function without one, but if you get a good agent, it’s a good head start. Work can be unpredictable, the illustrator has to take what they can get in order to make a living and feed themselves, doing whatever job comes along, ‘bulldozing’ their style through, as illustrator Lynda Gray puts it, questioning “whether it’s a default or an asset”. That’s up to the individual to decide.
Pushing boundaries is also in the forefront. In order to create change, attitudes need to change, including everyone – the illustrator, the publisher, the agent and the art director. “Every art director should take a chance” proposes Cherriwyn Magill, then art editor at Penguin Books. Taking chances has helped to shape illustration into the diverse, multi disciplined industry it is.