Editorial illustration demands so much more than just being an artist. Not only do you need to keep in mind the basic art requirements of composition, content and values – which includes checking it reads in black and white plus leading the viewer’s eye to the most important thing – but some element of “up-to-date-ness” and perhaps even an ability to use an essence of cartooning, for example. I find this variable set of add-on needs stimulating.
For instance, I was depicting Donald Trump and his declared “USA first” ideas and how they might deter people who would choose to go to America for business, trade, services, immigration, tourism etc. But even as I composed the image, I was not only changing my mind about exactly how the aeroplanes should look and how they might indicate the streams of visitors, and watching out for overall balance, but also keeping an eye on the press because he was changing his mind even while I worked!
This really reinforces the need to be quick and relevant, flexible and up to date in editorial illustration. It also underlines for me the very essence of much editorial work: it needs to be completed well, of course, but also at a few days’ notice if destined for a daily newspaper news section that can date fast. Very different from modelling a portrait in pastels or oils and adjusting endlessly. Or even illustrating a children’s book where much the same applies.
And the cartooning I mentioned? That’s not something I’ve ever aspired too, I have to say. But Donald Trump himself needed to be in silhouette in this image, and for that I needed to exaggerate the features most imagined when Trump is mentioned – the hair swished forward and around, the frequent snarly mouthing, and the vehement hand signs he favours. I hope I did it justice – but by the time you read this he may well have toned himself down and revised his policies anyway. That’s life.
The last thing I added was the sense of depth and distance – so art knowledge is not an optional extra in this sense 🙂