The Style Conundrum


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    Should you follow art trends? What compositions do you keep using? And is it too late to start illustration as a career? This week, Jake Parker, Lee White, and Will Terry discuss the answers to these questions as well as offer a rant on the state of the American Cinema.

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    Click HERE to listen and read the shownotes.



  • I saw the podcast today and it was really interesting because yesterday me and an illustrator friend spent the afternoon working with the skype on, and at a certain point we talked about the style subject. I could write forever here, because we had a lot of points of view, a lot that go along with what was said.

    But just wanted to give the example of this illustrator friend and I. We both do fantasy maps and battle maps, we both love each other style, which was the reason we met online. Our styles have absolutely nothing to do with each other, and the illustration process we use is so different that there's no comparison. But we exchange techniques all the time. Like, we really show, in photoshop, exactly how we do this or that step by step. And never do we end up doing things in the same way the other does, our styles are still completely different. But by seeing exactly what the other person does, we are able to figure out a way to bring a particular thing to our own style.

    I think this is a good example on learning from other people styles, without copying the style itself. It helps that from the beginning we know we don't want to do that other style, just learn something from it, but in the end, this can be applied to any situation.



  • What is 'the style' right now? I've heard some discussion about it, but...what is it? Got any examples?



  • @kylebeaudette I can't say what trending styles there are for children's books, but I could list a few for illustration in general.

    Like how there is a Spotify style for music these days, Instagram has made in impact in art history (can't wait to read about it in the next volume of Janson's History of Art). It has define how a portrait looks and composed these days. There's the rainbow-colored filters (in the olded days these would be glazes and varnishes). It might be too soon to say, but Tik-Tok may influnce how video fine art is made.

    The interest in kewpie dolls of the early 1900's lives on today as "chibi" characters. You see it as Funko Pop figures and there are many Western display toy competitors trying to play with the forumla. Skottie Young made an industry for himself in the comic world; both Marvel and DC are hired upcoming chibi artists to create superhero stories targeting young children.

    In the gaming world, after Blizzard's Warcraft III and World of Warcraft were released it has defined how modern fantasy characters look like today. They went on to define series like League of Legends and DOTA, which in turn inspires new games such as Smite. I see some imitators of Fortnite (urban teen fashion for lack of a better word, silly mascot-esque costumes) so we may be entering a new art era on that front.

    In animation, the Cartoon Network style remains strong. This is because many current showrunners had worked for a previous property. It's been argued Family Guy maintains the traditions of Hanna-Barbara. The Pixar style is the new Disney style. Many animators that have worked in their studios have moved on to NetFlix projects and are working to build the foundations of 3D children's movie industy in China.

    Do you remember how many ealy 2000's sci-fi/fantasy movies had a lot of true black in its cinematography? There were several reasons for this. Concept artists love chiaroscurro and went overboard with it in Photoshop. The darks also helped to mask poor 3-D graphics at the time. I'm happy most directors moved on from this style. We're rediscovering how shadow can be colored in blues, browns, etc. Now, if we can get rid of the de-saturation filter...

    I could go on, but I best stop myself😁



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  • It's stuff like this:
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  • @kylebeaudette for examples of popular illustration styles for children's books, you can check out recently released titles at your library or go on publisher's websites and see what has recently published or is coming soon. You'll find that there are as many illustration styles as there are books.

    But there do seem to be a few illustration styles you see more than others. These are styles I've been seeing over and over again:

    1. A textured collage style like Christian Robinson's or Oge Mora's
    2. A folk art style like Rebecca Green's or @Lee-White's
    3. A stylized, cute, slightly vintage style like Anoosha Syed's or Vashti Harrison's
    4. A loose, more painterly style is cropping up more and more, like Corinna Luyken's or Cindy Derby's

    And then you've got award-winning illustrators whose books always seem to be best sellers, and they all have different styles too: Sophie Blackall, Dan Santat, Jon Klassen, Oliver Jeffers, Rafael Lopez, LeUyen Pham, Brendan Wenzel, and even realistic illustrators like Kadir Nelson and Jerry Pinkney.

    So guess this is a really longwinded way to say that there is no one children's book "style" right now, but there are a few that are more popular. Hope you--or someone--find this helpful! (I know that personally, reading and exploring tons of picture books helped me to be comfortable with my own style and that there's no need to chase trends.)


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