In search of an aesthetic

One of the main focuses for my study of the MA in Illustration is to develop a visual aesthetic for my work. I want to spend a prolonged period of time focused on refining an aesthic which feels like it is my own.

I recently submitted some artwork for my FAT 1 assesment. Looking back on the work which I submitted personally I am not overly happy with it. I made a concious decision with this exercise to explore a number of different styles including childrens picture book illustrations, vector patterns and a hand drawn comix style. I was really aiming to explore with these pieces and perhaps gain some new skills but I never felt like I quite hit the mark.

Children’s book illustration based on a folk tale

Through out the course of the first term I have thought about the styles and artists which most inspire me. I am particularly interested in cartooning and comic arts so many of my influences are drawn from those fields. I decided it might be a good idea to make a list of my favourite artists and to study their artwork to see what they share in common and to understand what most appeals to me with in their work. Among my favourite comic artists are Hérge, Jason, Chris Ware and Luke Pearson. So I decided to look at what these artist had in common. I think on some level many of the artists which resonate with me would claim to be influenced by Hergé. Each of them draws in a cartoonish way with a line art style preferring a colour palette consisted of flat colours.

Left to Right: Hergé, Jason, Chris Ware, Luke Pearson

I first toyed with the idea of creating a comic in 2005 when I created 100 copies of my own hand drawn and photocopied comic “Ghost of a Doubt”. Drawn with pencil, the aesthetic was crude but had potential. I can see now what I was striving for in terms of style even though I was yet to discover the like of Jason, Chris Ware or Luke Pearson. “Ghost of a doubt” contained a number of short autobiographical stories influenced by writers like Harvey Pekar and Ben Snakepit.

Since the creation of “Ghost of a Doubt” I have done little in terms of illustrating my own comic. Although I did write and realease a digital graphic novel called “Little Details”, I took a back seat in terms of illustration on this project as my close friend Aurora Peréz Machio created the vast ammount of the illustration work required. I have not stopped drawing since its creation however and I have gained the skills required to create my work digitally. If I look at some of the work I have created recently I realise that subconsciously I have a go to style which is similar to the artists I most relate to. I see this more in my recent work such as the example below, a poster for the 2015 Record Store Gay in Dublin.

Poster I designed for Record Store Gay Dublin 2015

Having spent some time exploring various artist and styles which is inspire me. I feel that my natural inclination has always been towards a cartoonish line art similar to some of the artists I have mentioned previously. I want to push myself to explore within this style and to develop my own voice within it. To this end I have decided to dedicate my time developing this style and exploring it further.

One of the things that has often struck me about artists such as Hergé and Chris Ware is their treatment of landscapes and architechure. I decided therefore to begin by creating a landscape drawing in a similar style. The drawing is based on photo I took of a sea stack called Haystack Rock in Oregon in the US. I started the illustration by creating a rough sketch in my sketch book.

Once the sketch was completed I scanned it to my computer. Once I had a digitised version of my sketch I opened it in Adobe Illustrator CC. I then inked the lines of the sketch using some ink pen style brushes. Once the lines of this sketch were completed I created new layers below the outlines in order to colour the art work. I choose a flat colour palette with a very natural green, blue and yellow. I finished the piece by adding shadows to the rocks and beach.

Haystack Rock Illustration

This illustration is just the beginning of my exploration into finding an aesthetic which represents me. I hope in time to be able to develop this style and make it more representative of myself. I think that the introduction of characters may help with this process. For now, however, I feel I am on the right path exploring a style which speaks for me.


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