Fine Art vs. Illustration

I personally continue to struggle with this idea that illustration is its own sect of commercial art, separate from what is considered gallery sold fine art. Which may arise from the fact that I find more fine art inspiring than contemporary illustration.
This post was inspired by a struggle I'm sure many people feel when deciding whether or not to pursue illustration. (I’ve found, at least with people who want to make art in traditional mediums).

Illustration is different from personal or self-directed “fine art”, illustration is meant to tell a story. Usually in conjunction with a story, an event, or an idea the picture you create is meant to visually add to that.
Fine art usually indicates a level of higher thinking, a plane of mystery or higher intent in the work that doesn’t exist in commercial art. This is true sometimes, however I feel the lines of commercial and fine art are blurred.

Saints & Sinners
A piece I made for the La Gioconda project. 
A reinterpretation of the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. Made with watercolor and ink.

Illustration was first a profession when people wanted to commission art from an artist. These were fine artists per say, but they made artwork for a specific purpose and a client who requested that art. Sometimes it was a portrait and sometimes it was the artist’s interpretation of an event.
What I feel most connects an illustrator and an artist is the fact that they’re chosen for the type of work they create. On the flip side, illustration holds a very special quality to it that I find is lacking in modern "Fine Art". There is a real craft of storytelling in Illustration.
In the same vein is comic storytelling, which I feel like is more prevalent in contemporary illustration now more than ever. Not only because traditional mediums are being made obsolete by computer technology but also given the rise in Indie comics and the change of illustrative styles.

I’ve often held this debate in my mind of whether or not I wanted to be a fine artist or an illustrator, and I always come to the same conclusion: Why can’t I be both - Or something in between? I still haven’t drawn a conclusion whether or not this is na├»ve, selfish, or even a question worth asking. But I do know that the reason why I feel so strongly about not compromising myself to one profession is purely for my craft.

Au Naturale
A piece made for the collaborative group promo 'Bras'. 
Promo includes pieces from recent SVA graduates.

For me the images I make are always going to be personal. Even if they’re specifically made for an article or a book, the imagery and the way that I make the art is a part of me. I know many illustrators would agree, but many argue that its not about you its about the story. This is true, the point of the illustration is to converse an idea but is it not the illustrator’s personal interpretation the origin of conversation?
It’s an open debate of course and many people feel a certain way given their personal experience. And I'm not passing any judgements on anyone, nor am I trying to say something about the Illustration field. This is purely a personal and internal debate, but one that I feel I am not alone in. For myself, I feel as though the argument of Commercial versus Fine Art within the Illustration world is that of compromising my artistic vision within an illustrative craft. In choosing one or the other I automatically limit myself to the possibilities for my work in the future. 

As Picasso said, "The chief enemy of creativity is good sense." 

Hope you enjoyed this internal debate from the depths of my soul. Next week’s post will be . . . Watercolor techniques!


How to make a Tile Pattern:

Lately I've been drawing a lot of patterns, and I wanted to share one way I learned how to make patterns from illustrator Julia Rothman who was so gracious as to substitute my business class at SVA. I'm not as artful at the craft of pattern making as Julia whose designs are subtle and full of movement, nor am I very experienced I would say. Nonetheless I wanted to share this fun way to create a very basic pattern and share my some of my designs with you. So lets begin!
Tiling is very easy to do, you can do it by hand with a copier or on the computer using Photoshop. Below are basic instructions on how to create a wraparound tile pattern.

Take a piece of paper, it can be regular old shitty printing paper or you can open a new document in photoshop. It can be any size but I personally like starting out with a square piece of paper. You can use virtually any medium too, it really depends on your personal tastes. For fun I use ballpoint pens.
Then once you're ready:

Step One: Draw an item, a person, a flower, anything in the center far enough from any of the edges.(Preferably centered.) Have fun with the design, don't think too much especially if its your first pattern. 

Step Two: Cut the paper in half vertically. I'd try to be as straight as possible as you need the edges of the paper to be able to meet up neatly. Now take the edges with the design (the edges in the middle that you've just cut) and place them on the outside. So now what was the outside edges are in the middle touching, with the two halves of the design facing OUTWARD. I would tape the pieces together so as to keep the pages together. (Use tape on the back)

Step Three: Cut the paper in half again, this time horizontally. BE CAREFUL! to not mix up the edges. Now doing what you did in step two... take the edges with the design (the edges in the middle that you've just cut) and place them on the outside. Now the design is split four ways, and the design you've created is in either OUTER corner. Tape the pieces together so as to keep the pages together. 

Step Four: Draw a design in the middle of the page. It can be the same design, or a totally new design. This will be in the middle, and the design that you've created before shall become the tile of the pattern. 

Please refer to the diagram above, it may help with any confusion when you're making your own pattern! Then using a copier or if you're in photoshop, the stitching tool, copy the pattern you've made and connect the corners to complete the pattern effect! 

Notes on pattern making, from sketchbook

I personally love to make patterns for fun, just because its a fun thing to do whether you're doodling in your sketchbook or working on a pattern for a consumer product. Patterns can be anything too, especially now when a handmade element in patterning is so appealing. Patterns can be on anything too from wallpaper to t-shirts and more unconventional items such as coffee mugs.

Here are some examples from my sketchbook of some patterns and doodles I made for fun that I think can take on a pattern like quality.

                     I had wanted to make a dress or the figure of a woman
              Some notes on psychology that quickly turned into mindless doodling

snake doodle, opposite some brush markings

Now I wanted to share with you a pattern I've made using this basic technique. I'm fascinated with Fungi. Although I refuse to eat them because that very fascination with this organism has totally turned me off of consuming them. Drawing these different types of mushrooms was so much fun with all of their different colors, shapes and patterns. Thinking about the balance of these 'shrooms was fun too, the negative and positive space is important in the movement of the piece. 
Then I made this little Salamander for the middle of the pattern. 

Now using the tiling effect here's my wallpaper all put together! 

It's not the greatest pattern ever made. But its something fun to do, and with every pattern you make the next one is always better. So there it is, my very simple very basic how to of patterns!

I hope you liked it, and I hope you attempt to make a pattern even if just for kicks.
Little Salamander nestled in 'shrooms.