The best illustrators

To learn to visualize ideas

There are a number of summary volumes about exemplary illustrations and their creators / inside, which will be presented in each case as the best illustrators. Many of these books are annual volumes; the latest edition of was published in 2014 "Illustration Now!". Now the two editors present a weighty tome entitled "The Artist - 100 Best from around the World". Doc Baumann has watched it for you.

Die besten Illustratoren
Excellent typo / graphic combination of the T of the New York Times with the portrait of the media dominant US President | Melinda Beck: When All the News That Fits Is Trump, 2017 / Columbia Journalism Review / Without specifying the art

In DOCMA booklet or here on the blog, I peer around the summary volumes of current illustrations before: Approximately years volumes of News York Society of Illustrators, which specializes in fantastical illustrations "Spectrum" editions, Lürzers "200 Best" with a focus on digital incurred works - and some time ago and volumes of the "Illustration Now!" - series, the last of which was published five years ago.

The editors of this series, Steven Heller and Julius Wiedemann, despite producing further editions since then. But now a large and thick photo book is published by Taschen, which represent the two claim to present the 100 best illustrators of the world.

If there were such a selection for even halfway "objective" criteria, actually in all these rows, the same people would have more or less always show up - but that's not the case. Like the just the way it is with aesthetic judgments (we know the drill well by the jury decisions of DOCMA Awards, which are afterwards often criticized by readers), there is no such "objective" criteria but. Although you can try to justify with many fine words their own selection ... ultimately it boils down to what you like and what not, for whatever reason.

Myself about like (reduced to minimalist and coarse) not many of the featured images in this volume, but I know it happens to be my personal taste and that the not everyone shares. And vice versa, I am disappointed that such an excellent illustrator like Guy Billout among these 100 alleged best has found no place.

The best illustrators in Portrait

Many of the annual volumes are limited to the presentation of the results; of the people behind you can learn anything. Only the winners of the first places are sometimes presented with a picture portrait and a few lines.

Fortunately, Heller and Wiedemann set the fine tradition of their "Illustration Now!" - volumes continued and dedicate each of the hundred for a full-page illustration of one or two pages for the introduction (which is not quite as much as it sounds because the texts in parallel are printed English, German and French). Then follow several pages with sample images.

The captions provide information about the title, year, clients or use and, finally, working technique.

Here the editors are, however, (and this is, unfortunately, in almost all these rows above) not on the amount of time. For while the analog techniques are listed quite accurate (about: mixed media, Acyrl on canvas, hand drawing), includes all generated with computer-help techniques under the one term "digital". Whether retouching, installation, digital painting, vector graphics, 3D, whether Photoshop, Illustrator, Painter, Cinema4D - all is inserted into the large "digital" -Topf.

Die besten Illustratoren
Edel Rodriguez: Agent Orange, 2017 / Personal work / mixed media, acrylic on paper, digital

Art instead of art?

Let's stick to the subject. In his preface, co-editor Steve Heller writes the following harrowing phrases:

"In the past five years that I 'two introductions for TASCHEN, Illustration Now - wrote series, I predicted that the art of illustration, as we know it is threatened with extinction. That seemed to me then to be a logical assumption. The proverbial spring, in our case, pen and brush, are now no longer mightier than the sword, they are subject to programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. So I suggested in my lyrics, illustration would now less one art rather than a digital Technology his. I apologize: I was wrong on both counts. The illustration is alive, and the new digital tools have given the art new strength and the illustrator greater resistance. "

Nice that he (apart from that I could not discover here Redeemed in the cited books in this field) excused. But he admits these sentences so yet again. And I ask myself, how can formulate someone with the skills to put together such volumes, such undifferentiated considerations. After all, one can assume however that he has worked extensively as an expert on this topic.

First, if he concedes that the tools pencil and brush are inferior to the digital tools - why should result in better tools to extinction of the illustration? Well, restricted "as we know it" - but that would then have to apply to any technical innovation: collage, incorporating plastic elements, airbrush, etc.

Secondly illustration art? Illustration is art at all? That depends on the definition. Often a work of art being defined as something that has no commercial motive. This is exactly what makes illustration, she assists other communication systems and / or helps objects and services to sell.

So you do not misunderstand me: As illustration for the same reasons, it should be ordered to be transparent and understandable, it ranks for me of "mere" art, which all too often refers only to itself and not beyond itself, the viewer to wants to force yourself to sink into the hidden intentions of their creators / inside. Illustration contrast got to be understandable, otherwise they do not get their task gradually failed.

Third: art versus art. Is the categorical ever a pair of opposites? Whether something is a work of art is subject to evaluative criteria, technology refers to the type of occurrence - both are different aspects of the work, but no alternatives in the same category. But we take "art" once restricted as a positive value and quality opinion on excellently implemented ideas and masterful craftsmanship. What was then, pray tell, have to do the technique used with the quality of the work? And is a mixed media image with owner of half of digital content then only half as much art as a fully painted? Because he could have written accordingly: "... would eat now less of a flavor as a preparation to be." The statement is - in the words of the physicist Peter Woits about string theory - ( "not even wrong" not even wrong, but simply meaningless).

Especially since it has become hard to distinguish itself for professionals whether an image with traditional or digital techniques was made. What matters is only the convincing result. The path does not interest the viewer, most the analytical previous picture forensic scientist. We should have learned from history that we do not need to unleash with any new technology again this tiresome talk: photography, airbrush, acrylic colors, etc. And if they did, then with respect to digital form but please not in 2019!

The best illustrators to almost 700 pages

But these concerns - and moreover, the author then apologized regarding a thought for himself the same - limit the enjoyment watching and reading this thick and large-format illustrated book in any way (or in the wrong politicians German: even not at all).

You get to know 100 model Illustrator / inside - whether they are the world's best or not. You read about their intentions and developments, and you can mainly for hours with their pictures deal (the analog and digital).

Since you will only see the final results, and it's not about tutorials, learn though little of their own practice, which is about concerns the masterful use of Photoshop. However, you can learn a lot about how to visualize ideas convincingly - that is, ultimately, an outstanding illustration of a far more significant criterion as the technique used. And in this aspect can be found in this volume Hundreds of instructive examples.


Steve Heller and Julius Wiedemann (Editor): The Illustrator - 100 Best from around the World, bound Taschen Verlag 2019, 664 pages, large format, 50 Euro

Die besten Illustratoren
Cover of the book "The Artist" by Christoph Niemann
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Hans Baumann

Doc Baumann is primarily concerned with installations (and their critics) and with the unmasking of image forgeries, also with digital graphic and pictorial techniques. In the media again and again as "Photoshop Pope" dubbed dedicated since 1984 to the digital imaging and writes since 1988 about it.

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