Thursday, March 3, 2011

Continuous Golden Age

I know I've been oversimplifying in the last few rants about the need for a new golden age of illustration. Oh, I still stand behind the notion that modern graphic design principles need to be reestablished. Yet I know that lots of great design, integrating great illustration, is ongoing. But in order for it to be a golden age, it needs to be ubiquitous, constantly encountered—not just rare finds. Though rare finds are obviously still a delight.

In a comment to the last post, Annie delivers a positive note (as she always does) that reminds me, as it should remind us all, that children's books have been in a continuous golden age since books were first published for children. For over a hundred years, children's literature has remained magical, entertaining, and ever delightful—resulting from illustrators and authors given nearly free rein to leap and cavort and shed inhibitions through an ever twisting and tumbling literary universe.

Demonstrating that is a random, serendipitous, example I pulled blindly from my digital archives of children's books—illustrations by Eric Kincaid:

Above and below: Eric Kincaid — A Children's Book of Verse

I need to drop the subject of a new golden age—for now—only because my deadlines are demanding my attention again. But I will be returning to my rants, and I won't just be yakking about it, I plan to do something about it. I have some plans for this year that I'm looking forward to telling you about soon enough.

Until then, for the time being, I'm back to posting random images here and there, with minimal text. That's more like it, sez you.


Annie said...

Hi Thom,

There are so many fine artists illustrating children's books today, that I encourage all artists to explore the medium, by visiting a large library collection, where children’s picture books have been selected based on favorable reviews.

Some illustrators are writing the books; and others are in collaboration with their long time friends or spouses, or they have been selected and hired through author and publisher recommendations.

Styles range from watercolor and pastel, with the quality of professional portraits- far from static, expressing movement, scene, setting, characterization, and emotion- to pure graphic design, or an almost cartoon-like quality. These are the illustrated stories written for pre-school through about third or fourth grade. Graphic novels are another medium to explore.

There are so many artists, in a myriad of styles, these are just a handful, in no particular order: Jan Brett, James Ransome, David Diaz, Trina Schart Hyman, Janet Stevens, Allen Say, Jerry Pinkney, Rachel Isadora, Marilee Heyer, Steven Kellogg, Audrey Wood, Marianna Mayer, Chris Van Allsburg, David Weisner, Denise Fleming, Kinuko Y. Craft, and Robert D. San Souci. Michael Hague and Tony DiTerlizzi credit Arthur Rackham as a direct influence.

You are so right, that a golden age should incorporate every facet of our visual experience.

Daniel [] said...

I am enough of a cynic that I believe that, were it widely recognized that children's books have enjoyed a continuous golden age, a effort would be mounted to bring that age to an end, to replace the illustration there with something mediocre or nihilistic.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Excellent point, Daniel. I'm enough of a cynic to concur, therefore I shall endeavor to keep that particular point obscure as I rant for new golden ages for the periodical media.