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  A word for the illustrator - a message from our great grand illustrators…
Nanette Hoogslag
posted on March 18, 2013 at 9:07

During one of my many research trips online and in libraries I came upon this article by James B Carrington, written in 1905 for The Collector and The Art Critic.

In this still very readable article he is promoting the editorial illustration as a valuable and unique contribution to magazines. How true and how valid still! Though I fear perhaps the working climate might have changed somewhat.

The illustrator at work, end of the 19th century.

The orginal text. Spot the difference…

In considering the development of modern art one cannot fail to be impressed with the considerable part contributed by the men and women who draw for illustration. With the advent of process engraving the way was opened for many artists who heretofore had been hampered by the requirements of drawing on the wood block and in monochrome.

In the past often looked on only as a means of immediate livelihood, and not taken altogether seriously, artists have realized that in these days of multiplying magazines, illustration may offer a pretty wide field for the employment of their talents and call for a technical equipment of the first class.

Nowhere in the world are magazines so abundantly illustrated and so well printed as in America. Our public is a reading one and has learned to appreciate the added interest that attaches to reading accompanied by illustrations. The young artist just out of the schools, whose equipment includes the capacity to draw the figure well and fair idea of composition, will find little difficulty in securing opportunities to show what he can do. The Art Editors are constantly searching out new talents and the ambitious student need have no fear of not being at least carefully considered. The rewards of the successful illustrator are considerable, and he does not have to wait for the casual buyer, nor does his art involve the creating of something out of nothing. I mean by this that the illustrator’s subject is chosen for him, or at least the motive, and he puts it into form as his mind and artistic conceptions may dictate. Illustrations must help tell a story- that is their purpose, but there is very wide latitude afforded the artist by the better magazines and in many instances the illustration had quite the value of an original painting. Owing to modern improvements in photography and the increasing use of colour, illustrators may now draw in practically any medium they prefer. Many of the illustrations to-day are really finished color drawings in oil, water-colour, pastel, etc.

Time spent by the young illustrator in learning something of the effects produced by current reproductive methods is well spent, for he is then in a position to accent or alter his work to provide for the effect he wishes to retain. The illustrator to-day is the painter to-morrow, in many instances, and the student of art will find, if he searches the records with a seeing eye, that many of the greatest painters of the past are the illustrators of a sublimated sort. I am only pointing out the fact that we sometimes overlook, that the art of illustration need not be in any sense a trivial and unworthy art. Our magazines are helping us on the way toward a better appreciation of all art.

James B Carrington

From: The Collector and The Art Critic,
Vol 3, No. 4 (April 1905) p.52