Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top 10 Illustrators

Picture books are my favorite form of art and there are some picture book illustrators whose work I think is outstanding.  I thought I'd share with you my top 10 favorite illustrators..and I should qualify that they are illustrators but also story tellers.  Some are award winning and some are not.  Some have been illustrating a long time and some have just recently made a name for themselves.  Some are alive and some are dead.  Some work with in animation and concept art, some in picture book art, and some do whatever illustration job comes along.  But all inspire and motivate me and I find myself time and again returning to their work to see how they handle a situation or set up a scene.

Here is my list in no particular order:

1.             Ezra Jack Keates
2.             Trina Schart Hyman
3.             Jane Chapman
4.             Tony DeTerlizzi
5.             Garth Williams
6.             Jerry Pickney
7.             Peter DeSeve
8.             Michael Knapp
9.             Leuyen Pham
10.         Sara Palacios

I have included a sample of their work in the collage above. Starting at the top left, I'll mention the artist and what I love about their work.  In subsequent posts, I'll feature each artist further.  

Garth Williams is at the top left and I love his art because it's always in pen and ink.  His line work is so good and his characters have so much depth using only black and white.  Another artist who is excellent with black and white is Tony DeTerlizzi who is next.  His value pattern and character development is what draws me to his work.  Ezra Jack Keates work is simplistic, childlike and yet so profoundly well done.  His was one of the first illustrators to use African American children as protagonists…but he didn't do that to make a statement, he did that because he painted what he knew.  He grew up in New York City as a Jewish boy who lived in an ethnically diverse neighborhood and his art naturally reflected his surroundings.  Rounding out the top row is Peter De seve, who is best know as a concept artist and who developed the characters for Ice Age, among many other feature animated films.  He also has done multiple New Yorker covers and in my opinion captures New York like no one else can.  I love his characters, his wit in his storytelling and his application of watercolor.

Starting the second row is Trina Schart Hyman whose influences are similar to Ezra Jack Keates in that she grew up in New York City and her artwork reflects all ethnicities of people.  I love her figure work - she is so good at capturing the human form.  Jane Chapman is the creator of the beloved bear character that I love so much.  What I admire about Jane's work is her color pallet which is so young and playful without being too primary, and her animal characters are so memorable.  Jerry Pickney is next and if you have seen his work, you too would put him in your top 10 list.  He is one of last century's most successful African American illustrators and his career evolved during a time of great change for both illustration and black people in this country.  He was often a voice and a vessel for dealing with issues about race.  His watercolors are outstanding and he really studies his subjects well and the infuses personality into them in a way that readers can really relate to.  Leuyen Pham is an artist who I discovered recently.  What I love about her work is her ability to place so many story telling elements in her compositions and to have them all feel harmonious.  Her characters are adorable and her illustrations have a sweetness to them.  

Starting the third row of images is Michael Knapp an illustrator that I discovered through the "Out of Picture" book that was published by Blue Sky Studios.  Blue Sky Studios is  a computer animation studio dedicated to creating high end character animation and visual effects for the commercial and feature film industries.  The artists there are amazing and they put together a book of all their ideas that were cropped "out of the picture".  Really cool!  I was drawn to Michael Knapp's work because of his ability to tell a story without any words.  He also has wonderfully dynamic compositions.  And the last image I have above is from Sara Palacios.  I discovered Sara on Illustration Friday, a blog site that features illustrators work.  I fell in love with her work and have been following her for about 5 months.  Her picture book work reminds me of Ezra Jack Keates, but with an updated feel, and I love her character development.  She has also been so kind as to talk to me on e-mail and through Facebook, so I feel honored that she would share her hard earned knowledge with me.  She is also a graduate of The Academy of Art University so we have that common educational element.  

So there you have it!  My list of my favorite illustrators.  Let me know what you think and if there are some illustrators out there that you think I should get to know.  Drop me a comment below.  Thanks!

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