The publication of Noma Bar’s new book Negative Space reminds us what a provocative artist he is. Bar’s editorial illustrations pare away the superfluous and cut to the bone of the idea. Using the technique of negative space, he combines a flat graphic silhouetted image with the shape surrounding it to create an illustration rich with meaning. Discovering the image within the image causes the readers to pause and contemplate the larger story being told.
An Israeli-born illustrator Bar studied graphic design and typography at the Jerusalem Academy of Art and Design before moving to London in 2001. His work has appeared in numerous illustrious publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Economist. Bar has said that the inspiration for his distinctive graphic style emerged during the first Gulf War when he was sitting in a shelter with his family. Perusing a newspaper, he happened upon the black radioactivity symbol on a yellow background, which reminded him of the dark eyebrows and mustache of Saddam Hussein. Sketching a silhouette around it, he found that it became an instantly recognizable caricature. Upon relocating to London a few years later, he included the Saddam drawing in his portfolio; its strong concept helped win him his first assignment from Time Out London.
The days of artists conspicuously sketching and painting on drawing pads or at an easel may be over. All the tools that one needs are available in a palm-sized iPhone; passersby don’t know if the person is text messaging or creating a digital masterpiece.
Artist Jorge Colombo, who used the Brushes app to create the first iPhone-illustrated cover for The New Yorker’s June 1 issue has done it again with the Manhattan skyline at night on its November 16 cover. Although Colombo arguably can be called “the father of iPhone art,” he has owned an iPhone only since February 2009 and started “finger painting” using the Brushes app after that. Thanks to Colombo and a few other pioneers, what just was a cool Internet Café “parlor trick” to amuse geeky friends a few months ago has become a serious art medium. This week’s Huffington Post is even featuring iPhone drawings submitted by readers. The variety of styles, nuances of colors, level of detail and sophistication are amazing to behold.
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This year’s theme art for the U.S. Open Tennis Championships (USTA), which starts August 31 in New York, was designed by Pasadena-based illustrator Paul Rogers. Invited to submit theme art concepts to the USTA for use on posters, banners, tickets, programs, etc., Rogers pencil-sketched more than a half-dozen ideas, and then developed six into fully rendered color images. Rogers admits that “On a project like this I tend to over-produce concept sketches because I don’t want to lose the project due to a half-hearted execution of an idea.”
In its creative brief to the select artists who were paid to submit theme concepts, the USTA cited three requirements. First, if the illustration depicted a player, the figure had to be generic and not recognizable as either a male or female. Second, New York City had to be a key element since the games are played in the renowned Flushing Meadows, located in the borough of Queens. Third, the US Open’s flaming ball logo had to appear in the art. The key impressions to evoke were entertainment spectacle, toughest tennis and high energy.
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For illustrator Craig Frazier, Drawords started as a welcome “relief from a day job where I’m given copy and am supposed to draw to it. Every stroke has to communicate something.”
“This is the reverse,” he says. Instead, as a way to keep his head and his drawing skills sharp, Frazier gave himself the assignment of producing a whimsical sketch a week, which he decided to email to contacts with an invitation to give it their own captions. “It was a way to connect with clients and give them a peek at the way I work and the way I see,” he explains.
The drawings were outside of Frazier’s commercial illustrations, experimental and surreal. He says that he discovered if he put enough “silly elements” in, then people let their imaginations take over from there. “They have come back with things that I would never have seen in the drawing. There is a collaboration going on that is very innocent and satisfying.”
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