“The caliber of entries, for the most part, did not disappoint,” said juror Loraine Joyner. “We saw competence and mastery of medium across the board, whether in painting, assemblages, collage, drawing or digital. And there was a whole lot of digital. It amazes me how much more precise, detailed and stunningly complex digital has become in the hands and imaginations of truly adept users.”
“It’s interesting to see how different illustrators interpreted current events,” said juror Brian Anstey. “From the war to the presidential race, there were many different points of view.”
However juror Liz Hale was dismayed that a great deal of work she’d seen during the past year was not submitted. “I’m saddened because, as both an art director and an illustrator, the annual is an intrinsic resource for commissioning work and for seeing the very best out there,” she said. A partial explanation was the destruction of Richard Solomon’s New York office, by a collapsing crane, which prevented him from entering any of his artists’ work.
Juror Dan Craig expressed concern that fundamental drawing skills are becoming less important to the artist and audience. “As both see more conceptualized and pared down images (as far as rendering goes), they see less of what’s technically well-executed,” he said. “I view an artist like Brad Holland as a masterful renderer—even though his work is quite painterly, and often conceptually abstract.”
When asked what was new, juror Kevin Brimmer commented on the maturing style of comic books. “Gone is the Lichtenstein treatment. In its place is an evolved, manga-influenced way of storytelling. It still retains unique camera angles and complex settings, but it’s now done with economical line work, drawing skill and lots of energy.”
“Illustration is a primal necessity to communicate— deeply, wisely and emotionally.” —Liz Hale
“Photo-illustration is particularly hot in editorial now,” Anstey said. “It’s often the perfect complement to a news story. There is a definite demand for illustrators who use that medium.”
In response to my query about additional markets, several jurors cited illustrators offering works for sale via their own Web sites. “Another way is online stock illustration entities or smaller groups of artists who establish Web sites that function as collectives or consortiums,” Joyner said. “And then there are always galleries, private collectors and corporate sales.”
What about the future? “Illustration will face tougher competition not just from photography, but from computer-animated and computer-modeling quarters,” Brimmer said. “Soon the software will rival cameras in their aptitude for subtlety. Turnaround times are already ludicrously short. I struggle to buy my illustrators the proper amount of time to truly explore solutions.”
“I am confident there will always be a place for talent to find a mode of expression and for artists to make a living at it,” Craig concluded.
This year’s jurying began on Sunday morning, March 30. We worked in two large conference halls, each equipped with projectors for digital entries and six rows of tables for tear sheets and proofs.
“I am confident there will always be a place for talent to find a mode of expression and for artists to make a living at it.” —Dan Craig
The jurors worked in two groups of three with Jean Coyne acting as the sixth judge during the screening. All categories had been divided so each team screened half of the entries submitted. The judges alternated between viewing a session of projected digital files and then a set-up of print entries. Any juror could place an illustration in the finals by handing a printed piece to a member of the CA crew. Digital files were screened by checking the “in” or “out” column on prepared scoring sheets.
The final voting took place on Monday with all five jurors working together. Print entries were again spread out on the tables. Two paper cups, one white for “in,” the other red for “out,” with slots cut in the bottom, were placed upside down to the right of the pieces. The jurors voted by putting a different colored tile into the bottom of the appropriate cup. The different colored tiles allowed us to make sure that every entry was voted on by every judge. Finalists submitted as digital files were again voted on by each juror checking “in” or “out” on scoring sheets. A simple majority was required for acceptance.
Judges were not permitted to vote on projects they were directly involved in creating. When a judge’s piece was in the finals, either Jean or I would cast the fifth vote.
I would like to thank each of the judges for their conscientious efforts in selecting our 49th Annual Exhibition. —Patrick Coyne ca