What is Illustrative Art

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An illustration is graphical representation created by drawing, sketching, painting, digital rendering, lithographic or woodcut printing, etc. of things real or imagined. The term illustration comes from the Latin word meaning enlighten. In fact, in the medieval age illustrations were called illuminations.  Illustration is often found in the sphere of commercial or popular media.  An illustration artist can choose to work with existing styles or create their own. Beyond the ability to draw, it is necessary to have a sharp eye for creating illustration that tells a story. These artists can produce masterful expressive images which serve practical application. Illustrative art is a form that is defined by its context not medium.

Illustration artists have the unique gift of communicating their ideas and telling stories through their visual renderings. Not every artist can be an illustrator but illustrators are artists. Visually striking imagery in illustration can also be paired to work with something else, adding personality or character to that other thing without overwhelming it.  Such is the role of illustration in books, cartoons, calendars, billboards, clothing, packaging, store displays, posters, cover art, and comic books to clarify or embellish something else. This is the context that illustrators work within.

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Various museum exhibitions, magazines and art galleries have featured the works of illustrators, however, some consider them less important compared with fine artists and graphic designers. Illustrative art is subject to condescension. What is popular and fun is so often hard to take seriously by the elite of the art world, yet that does not change the fact that illustrators are creative and competent artists. Original illustration art from renowned book, poster and magazine illustrators can bring high dollar values at auction. Norman Rockwell's his painting "Breaking Home Ties" sold in a 2006 Sotheby's auction for over 15 million dollars.

Illustrations are important to the advertising industry.   Illustrating  is a  rewarding career for both making fans happy and being paid for doing so. Commercial illustration copy with artwork created by leading advertising agency McCann Erickson has won awards. Another look at context will set apart the fine art and illustrative art forms: Andy Warhol started out working as an ad and magazine illustrator; however, Warhol’s work that represented irony in advertisement was considered separate from illustration. 
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"real" by estherfib

If you find you have a talent for conveying real life concepts into meaningful illustrations and have confidence in your style, it is time to rise above the mundane and promote your illustrative work. If you are such an artist, please share with us in the comments section. To read more on examples of illustrative art continue with this article:  Examples of Illustration Styles.

© Rebecca H Knight

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