Editorial Illustration Concepts and Ideas

Editorial illustrations are images meant to translate the message or main idea of a piece of media. More often than not, there are several layers of concepts or ideas behind these illustrations. For this section of the research we were asked to research and analyze a couple of illustrations – for instance – what and how are they representing a certain topic or subject matter.

I went out and collected a few examples from across the internet. It was interesting to see how different they were with each artist. Before this research (much like with illustration as a whole before the last module), I did not truly comprehend just how vast the field of editorial illustration was. Upon it being brought up I would brush it off as “magazine illustration” when, in reality, it is so much more than that.

One of the artists I managed to seek out is John Holcroft.

I would describe John’s work as simple but effective. The compositions and scenarios are not something mind-boggling but they get the job done. I, of course, mean that in the best way possible as there is nothing worse than consuming a difficult to understand piece of media and not having any visual cues/hints as to what it is actually talking about. John’s illustrations work as a way to ease/soothe the consumer’s brain.

“Leaves” is a commentary on aging and eventual death.

The illustrator uses a static composition to create a sense of stillness and using symbolic imagery is able to introduce the viewer with the darker undertones of the picture. Making the falling leaves be the colour of the character presented the image further pushes the narrative of it being about the passing of them. Possible metaphor is present – “People pass like seasons”. Additionally, this image may also be interpreted to feature an elderly patient suffering from mental illnesses such as dementia, schizophrenia or other.

“Barcode Loggers” touches upon the subject of consumerism slowly destroying the planet.

John creates a rather metaphorical setting in “Barcode Loggers”. I say “rather” as at this point I would even dare to question whether this is not the case or not. Much like the last illustration, this one seems to have a few possible scenarios it is trying propose: 1) Companies mass-destroying forests for personal gain; 2) Consumerism slowly but surely killing the planet 3) Profit over the wellbeing of the world – greediness and stinginess 4) The upper class being reckless and selfish.

“Mower” tackles the same issues, but is illustrated in a more direct way. The composition is different, perhaps requesting that the viewer would take a closer look at this massive problem from a different, more wide perspective.
“Parents” is about parents pressuring their children into achieving high academic results, essentially “riding” on them down the career path that they personally were not able to go down or in some cases did and want their children to do the same even if the children are not too fond of it.

I am especially fond of this illustration for how many visuals hints at the topic there are. The different words indicating the select few of a bunch of possible paths every parent wishes their child would take, the (almost blaring alarm) red backpack with several pointing arrows insinuating the indecisiveness of the parents and the lack of sense of direction of the child, the horse-riding gear being put on the head of the child puts the parents riding on their backpack control over the child.

I find it admirable when artists are able to push several narratives/concepts/ideas with their work, this I feel is especially useful for when making illustrations for media that is mainly focused on a certain field that has more points than what the reader might think. Looking at these illustrations makes you really think and consider about more than just the surface level of it all, it also holds the possibility of interesting you enough to seek out information on your own.


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