100 Wege einen Vogel zu malen (engl. “100 ways to portray a bird”)
Scheinberger, F. (2013) Illustration. 100 Wege einen Vogel zu malen. Mainz: Verlag Hermann Schmidt
This coursebook provides helpful guidance for Illustration graduates and aspiring Illustrators who plan to make a living as working professionals. Scheinberger presents practical answers to questions such as: how to develop his/her own style, when to hire an agent, how to find that first job, how to deal with copyrights and image rights, understanding contracts and insurances.
Scheinberger’s motivation to write this book is his love for the medium. As a professor he has encountered many talented artists who few years after graduating hadn’t been able to establish themselves professionally for lack of practical advice. To avoid more talent going to waste he compiled an invaluable source of information for anyone who wants to make a successful career as an Illustrator.
See my post on a quote from Scheinberger: “To illustrate is to make decisions”
The Visual Narrative Reader
Cohn, N. (ed). (2016). The Visual Narrative Reader. London: Bloomsbury.
The Visual Narrative Reader is a collection of contemporary research papers on the studies of visual language of sequential images from across different disciplines such as linguistics, psychology, anthropology and art education. Divided into three main parts – theoretical approaches to sequential images, psychology development of visual narrative and visual narratives across cultures – it provides comprehensive overviews on established approaches. Thanks to the international set of researchers this book offers a broad range of interesting insights and perspectives covering topics like Mayan art, children’s drawings, manga literacy and many others.With this compilation Cohn hopes to “see the emergence of an interconnected field of study capable of addressing questions that transcend the disciplinary divides of each individual contribution.”
For me this text was an important guide when trying to understand and to clarify ‘visual narrative’ as a study subject. Especially the chapter “Graphic style as the primary entrance to a story” by Pascal Lefèvre, where he takes a interdisciplinary look at how individual strokes form a drawing, form a graphic style and how that impacts the creation of meaning and the narrative.
Postema, B. (2016) Silent Comics. In: Bramlett, F., Cook, R. & Meskin, A. The Routledge Companion to Comics. London: Taylor and Francis.
Postema offers a comprehensive overview of the genre of silent comics covering topics such as formal challenges in relation to the comics form as a whole, similarities with silent film, history, woodcut novels and the further development of silent strips into graphic novels. In chapters about the specific features of silent comics, she investigates why wordlessness allows the image to represent other sensations like touch and sound and why silence can create a form of metacomic. She also points out the advantage of silent comics in context of international publishing, where translation would not be required. With many references to contemporary practitioners Postema provides a compact source of information about the wordless genre.
McCloud, S. (1994) Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. New York: Harper Collins & Kitchen Sink Press
This book is a comic book about sequential art and regarded as a classic piece on storytelling and visual communication.
Scott McCloud provides an in-depth look at the different elements of comic art. Using an autobiographical character he guides the reader over nine, information-packed chapters covering the fundamentals of the genre including the passage of time, the depiction of motion, its aesthetics, and broad interpretation by the reader. Based on the definition that he grounds in history (starting with 3,000 year old Mayan texts), “Comics are juxtaposed pictorial and other images in a deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.” (McCloud, p. 9) he goes on to examine the vocabulary of comics, its language and how the mind processes this (iconic) language. He continues to explore the relationship between image and text, how panels are used and touches on the differences between western and Japanese comic traditions. Of course there is more and each subject has its own chapter dedicated to it – with some leaning on prior chapters while others (such as the chapter on colour) are able to exist on their own.
Being vaguely familiar with the concepts of the gutter (what happens in the space between panels) and closure (how our minds fill in the blanks based on suggestions), I was happy to refresh my memory in such an understandable and approachable way.
This book is an excellent source for anyone interested in comics as an art form, visual storytelling and comics in the more general sense. The concepts are well illustrated and gave me a better understanding than if they had been written as a traditional textbook.
Narrative in Comics
Pratt, H.J. (2009) Narrative in Comics, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 67, no. 1, pp. 107-117.
In this article Pratt investigates a number of questions largely new to the philosophy of art around the topic of the narrative in comics, such as how narrative works in comics, if comics offer distinctive narrative structures and if so, what is so distinctive about them? After comparing the literary and pictorial dimensions of storytelling tools to the ones used in film and literature, he points out the respective common elements as well as the differences and concludes that comics ultimately use their own distinctive form. He closes with a comment on the causal sources and the value of this pictorial narrative medium. It was helpful to examine the parallels between the narrative tools used in film, literature and comics. By defining and dissecting the different elements, I gained a better understanding for future work that involves comics.
I took a more in-depth look at the last section of Pratt’s article. See critical analysis.
Illustration: a theoretical and contextual perspective
Male, A. (2007), Illustration: a theoretical and contextual perspective. Lausanne: AVA Academia, Lausanne.
Targeting advanced undergraduate and post-graduate students, Illustration: A Theoretical And Contextual Perspective provides a comprehensive overview of the field of illustration with a useful outline for career oriented illustration practices. By focusing on theory, research and conceptual processing the author challenges the notion that illustrators are mere “colouring technicians” and goes on to promote the idea “successful, forward thinking illustrators need to be educated, socially and culturally aware communicators utilising a breadth of intellectual and practical skills.” (Male, p. 14)
This book turned out to be an important guide in gaining an overall understanding of the different categories in Illustration in terms of structure, terminology and suggested work processes. I was challenged to rethink and revisit my existing methods in respect to approaching the problem solving process and developing visual solutions.
The Concepts of Habit and Routine: A Preliminary Theoretical Synthesis
Clark, Florence A. (2000) ‘The Concepts of Habit and Routine: A Preliminary Theoretical Synthesis’ The Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, vol. 20, pp. 123-137.
In this article Florence Clark looks at the different phenomena of habit and routine from a vantage point of an occupational therapist. She attempts to create a shared understanding of the meaning of habit and routine and their respective differences. From a functionalists perspective she proposes a list of advantages and disadvantages of habits and routines. Based on the results of conducted research, she concludes that habits and routines “economize action and thought so that the mind can focus on novel events and stimuli, and they provide a stable base which innovation and creativity can be embroidered. Further, they enhance the experiential quality of people’s lives though there can be negative, self-limiting effects. They may also play an important role in the construction of the self.
I included this article because it offers valuable information and insight with regard to the context of my keyword ‘daily’ and my question to what it means to have a routine.
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
Currey, M. (2013) Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
This book is a collection documenting the daily routines of famous creative people such as writers, filmmakers, composers and artists. The reader gets a glimpse of their respective daily schedule, their most productive part of the day, but also their peculiar preferences. Though the routines and individual habits vary, there are certain behaviours that appear to be similar in nature, namely a well-structured day and a strong work ethic. I found this book both inspiring and encouraging. Especially in the context of my keyword research, I discovered that it communicates the same message that I had in mind with ‘daily’.
“I wanted to show how grand creative visions translate to small daily increments; how one’s working habits influence the work itself, and vice versa.” (Currey, p. 19)
99 ways to tell a story
Madden, M. (2006) 99 ways to tell a story. London: Jonathan Cape.
Madden’s brilliant „Exercises in style“ is a must read for everyone interested in visual storytelling and comic art. Madden was inspired by Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, who took one core story and retold it in various ways by using different tenses, perspectives, formats and styles. Madden applies this idea visually using an one-page-comic with a simple story: A man is working on his laptop, gets up to go to the kitchen, when on his way downstairs somebody from upstairs asks him what time it is, answers “it is 1:15”, opens the refrigerator and realizes that he has forgotten what he was looking for. He retells the story again and again, experimenting with the different components, perspectives, formal styles, and point of views. The different ways of seeing show a range of narrative opportunities that I didn’t know were possible. It is inspiring to see how much form can affect content.
Especially when challenged with coming up for visual stories that are wordless, this would be my go-to source for developing different angles.
The Big Picture
Breselor, S. (2015) ‘The Big Picture’. Communication Arts 56, pp. 24-27.
Online: Communication Arts (2017) The Big Picture [Online] Available from: https://www.commarts.com/columns/the-big-picture [Accessed: 4 November 2017]
In her article The Big Picture Sarah Breselor provides valuable information on why graphic facilitation might “prove to be the ultimate communication art”. She gives a quick overview of David Sibbet’s background, a pioneer in this field and lets various other visual thinking consultants explain the most important skills required of a good visual facilitator. Furthermore the article touches on the insight that “nearly half of our brain is dedicated to solving problems visually” (Roam, D. as cited in Breselor, p. 26) and how this fact is often disregarded.
I have included this article in my bibliography because it challenges my previous view of an illustrator’s vs. an artist’s practice and points out new possible roles a visually literate person can take on.