Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Difference between Fine Art and Illustration

Fine Art is the expression of the inner world of the artist and an interpretation of the outer world.

The ego of the artist sits in the driving seat. The art work shows something about the artist, how the artist feels, thinks and perceives the world. Since the ego plays an important role in creating Fine Art, this could explain the famous artistic temperaments and flamboyant behaviors of modern artists and artists from the past.  Fine artists (and I am not an exception) usually take critique very personally. This is because their sense of self is attached to their artwork. Every suggestion is seen as an invitation to defend or argue their art background, skills, mediums, style etc.

Himalayan Cat, Pastel on paper 2012

This portrait of our cat is an example of my Fine Art.
My intention was to paint her the way I see and know her, emphasizing her mysterious nature.
This work also says something
about my passion for revealing
what is unseen or taken for granted.
For example, the blue color of her
eyes is only visible in sunlight and
is very difficult to capture with a camera.

Illustration is the expression and translation of an idea or story.

The artist’s ego takes a back seat and the story is more important. The illustrator doesn’t express their own perception but converts the words of the writer, or an idea, into pictures. It requires humbleness and selflessness from the artist. An illustrator can be seen as a translator for the writer and he or she must produce accurate representations of the story.

Watercolor study of the characters
Here is our cat again, now playing a
role in my children’s book.
The main character cannot be
revealed yet until the book is published. 

This picture shows the visual
power of perspective. Yet, it is neither
helping the story moving forward
nor urging the viewer to turn the page,
to see what happens next.
Therefore it is not a good
illustration for this particular book.

As both the writer and illustrator, the biggest challenge for me is to solely focus on the story, letting it unfold by itself and leaving my ego out. It is tempting to use this book for showcasing my (fine) art or skills instead of telling a visual story with my illustrations.  But I am reminding myself that the story is my employer; children and their parents or care takers are my customers. The story is daily telling me what illustrations I need to create in order for the kids to understand and enjoy the picture book.
In the past I lacked the patience to paint the same character over and over again. That is because I approached illustrating as a fine artist. My mindset had to change first. It is no longer about me, my preferences, ideas or expectations. But, it is about allowing lovable creatures having their own feelings, thoughts, habits, struggles and dreams.

In a future post, I will reveal a couple of the real illustrations of my book. 

If you are a Fine Artist or Illustrator, feel free to leave a comment and share your art experiences.


Kristine Allphin-Brakenhoff said...

Nice explanation. I was an illustrator for several years. Basically I took a clients ideas and visualized it. It wasn't my expression it was my interpreting my clients wishes and doing what they couldn't do.

Now, years later, I am working in the fine art arena. Very different and challenging.

Naquaiya said...

Great article you wrote here. So many people do not understand the difference between the two. Good going!

Ariannah said...

Kristine, thank you so much for commenting on my blog and nice to meet you. That is so neat that you changed from illustration to Fine Art (Beautiful Batik art by the way).

For me it is the other way around. For many years I was free to choose my own subject and medium. Now, in illustration my challenge is taking directions of the writer and/or art director.
You said it so beautifully, that you were "interpreting your clients wishes and doing what they couldn't do". Those words are very helpful in my new career. Thanks, I take my hat off to illustrators!

Ariannah said...

Naquaiya, Thanks so much for your kind words and stopping by!

gauri said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful post.. I think now I kind of understand the difference... :)

Ariannah said...

Thanks Gauri. Glad you found the article helpful.