Artist-Illustrator or Illustrator-Artist? Both? Or maybe just the hyphen…?
A dilemma of sorts.
So, pressing on regardless since the 1960s, working mostly in black and white, drawings developed as a way of thinking. Influences came from many sources and techniques - mark-making, measured drawing, realism, non-realism, commercial art, non-commercial art, abstraction, figurative representation, steel engraving, print etc. etc., all mixed with somewhat idiosyncratic subject-matter.
Line work started at college around 1969 basically because pen and ink was affordable, along with a ream of smooth drawing paper on which to draw… an economy of materials and technique … the benefits of limitation?
To practise commercially as an illustrator, I came to the conclusion that a way forward was to create a division between the illustrator and the artist. One solves visual problems and the other poses questions. It also seemed limiting to put all one's creative eggs in one basket, especially when illustration involves co-operation, often with a team. Personal drawing work led towards wherever it went and provided a freedom of expression away from commercial constraints. Each side influenced the other, with the personal drawings becoming a kind of Research Department.
After 50 years in the world of Illustration, the Research Department has now become my main occupation. Lockdown in 2020 drew a line in the sand and the work here shows recent drawings together with a look back at previous decades.
As set out in the biography, I taught part-time at a range of art schools from 1974 to about 2003 - teaching drawing as communication, mainly towards illustration. We were mostly teaching students how to think visually via mark-making and to take day-dreaming seriously. There were no fixed or stylistic expectations, the idea was generally to take the lid off a students’ potential - developing each student's attitude to drawing and illustration.
The drawings must speak for themselves - line has its own narrative which simultaneously depicts a subject whilst at the same time tells abstract stories of scratches made by an inky nib. Getting these two to work as one is the trick.
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David Atkinson June 2021
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