By Armand Cabrera
The conversation about art and illustration keeps coming up. People want to draw a line making one better than the other. I think this is foolish.
Since I work both sides of the fence as it were, I thought I would lay out a couple of things I’ve noticed about the different disciplines and maybe help dispel some myths about both along the way.
First myth, gallery artists have to sell which means they have to paint what people want and that means they are just like illustrators. Wrong. In gallery work people may commission you to paint a painting, they may even ask you to paint a specific scene but what they don’t do is ask you to submit roughs, then color studies and then fiddle with your picture as you paint it. Gallery artists paint what they want to paint and then take it to a gallery that sells it for them. No one has ever told me to fix or change a painting that I have delivered to a gallery. This happens all the time in illustration. Very few illustrators get a phone call for work, come up with an idea and paint an image for the client without outside feedback on that image.
Second myth, gallery artists are more artistic than illustrators. Wrong. The level of artistic accomplishment lays with the individual not the profession. Many golden age illustrators have stood the test of time and the works they created are now considered art. I would argue their work was always art. Their work has transcended the original intent of the painting. Some gallery work on the other hand has not done so well because of its trite treatment or overly sentimental subject matter.
Third myth, if you take money for your art you are selling out. Wrong. Selling out is a term that gets thrown about quite a bit in the artist versus illustrator discussion. Artists look at illustrators as sellouts for offering their work as a commodity designed by a committee. Those same artists have no problem giving up their self-respect begging for grant money to fund their projects or going to openings trying to sell paintings at a show of their work. I think selling out is copying another artists style for monetary gain. Neither profession can claim the high ground here. And both fields have their hacks that chase the style of whatever artist is commanding the most work and highest prices. I see it in galleries and illustration.
People who respect their craft and their profession create things worthy of any museum; to label it unworthy because of the original intent is ignorant. All creative work is communication and will be judged by the ability to reach other people. An artist must impart truth to what they create for it to have value beyond the moment. Successful artists must satisfy the needs of their profession and the desires of their soul if they wish to survive and continue to create works that can stand the test of time.
Dennis Miller Bunker
All art for this article is copyrighted to the respective artists, their estates or the artwork owners