19 August, 2005

Craft: Still The Enemy

James Kochalka got a group of illustrators up in arms recently when he once again explained how "Craft is the enemy," a philosophy he details in his new graphic novel THE CUTE MANIFESTO, as well. Speaking in San Francisco, Kochalka said "There is no art in illustration."

The reaction of the assembled illustrators won't be unfamiliar to anyone who has tried to explain that work-for-hire and enduring art are often mutually exclusive, especially when explaining this fact to someone whose income or sense of self-worth largely derives from the work-for-hire system or its mostly-shoddy products.

Much more on the San Francisco Illustration Conference and Kochalka's comments at art.blogging.la.


Blogger Cole Moore Odell said...

Many people in the commercial arts--advertising, magazine illustration, etc--have convinced themselves that what they do is art. Hence all of the hissing. It involves some of the same skills and tools, but the intent and the finished product are wildly different. I write ads for a living (not for evil companies, mind you) and even at my drunkest or most self-aggrandizing I would never claim it could be "art." That's why I can't stand reading Ad Age or Communication Arts, or paying attention to anything in the industry for that matter--there are always creative teams being hyped and hyping themselves as artistic geniuses. As James said, there is craft, which is used to create a style, which is then directed. There's nothing wrong with that; people gotta eat, and there's a demand for illustration. If they'd really thought about it, though, James' audience shouldn't have taken his comments as criticism, just a statement of fact.

4:32 PM  
Blogger dfgdfgasg said...

How can the creation of a style not be considered "art"?

3:58 AM  
Blogger Cole Moore Odell said...

Style is to art as personality is to character? I went to the talking-out-your-ass school of art criticism, but I think you develop a style, then apply that style to create either art or something else. For instance, you can devlop a style of directing film, then use it to make beer commercials.

As I've thought about it more, I realize I had my advertising tunnel vision turned on, and I neglected to consider book illustration--having spent considerable time at the Eric Carle Museum of Childrens' Book Art, and reading countless illustrated books to my kids over the past few years, it's hard to deny that some of the greatest children's book illustration isn't "art," or that it's useful to draw disticntions that would exclude it.

9:24 AM  
Blogger dfgdfgasg said...

So, it's a matter of intentions then? The idea that good art can't come out of a work for hire type situation is absurd; do I need to list of all the great illustrators?.
Were Beardselys book illustrations not great art? I could list off dozens.And, any cursory read of Kochalka's work reveals a keen interest in selling his own product.
I wonder of Kochalka doesn't hate craft so much cause he's not a technically astute draughtsmen...Anyone who can't recognize the beauty of a realistically rendered landscape or object, I pity.

The idea that illustrations is not art is so narrow both aesthetically and historically speaking. What we're really talking about is something not passing Kochalkas ( solipsistic and self-serving) cool test.

12:14 PM  

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