“I was encouraged to see the volume of entries that were submitted,” said juror Devin Pedzwater. “It was good to see work from artists new to me.”
“There was some great classic work balanced by some new, inventive, fresh styles,” said juror Bob Barrie. “Both ends of the spectrum presented some really nice conceptual work, as well as some fine representational illustration.”
“The caliber of the entries was higher than I had expected,” added juror Karen Powers. “In the final round, almost every piece demonstrated, at the least, an impressive level of technical competence.”
When asked what they saw, several jurors cited recognizable trends. “Across the board, many pieces employed some form of abstraction and/or distortion, or strange surreal creatures and scenarios in eerie Dali-esque landscapes,” said juror Nanette Biers.
“We saw reams of rabbits, cows, squids, octopi, skulls, hearts and distantly-spaced eyes, but even those offered some stunning executions,” Barrie said.
“What we didn’t see was the dimensionless vector illustration that was ubiquitous a few years ago,” Powers said. “Many illustrators who work digitally are using interesting combinations of traditional art and digital compositing and manipulation to give their work depth and textural richness.”
“There were so many interesting, well-executed, and effective images. From my own experience, I know the time, effort, vision and skill it can take to make a great piece, and it was difficult to say no to so many worthy contestants.” —Nanette Biers
What did they see that was new? “Those extraordinary United Airlines commercials took my breath away every time,” Biers said. “They were animated poems.” “I hope that the use of animated illustration will continue to grow since it is such a welcome departure in broadcast advertising,” juror Chris Rovillo added.
“Information graphics was a surprising theme,” Pedzwater said. “I’ve seen that trend gain popularity in the editorial category, but it was interesting to see it appear in the advertising and for sale categories as well.”
When asked about the future, Powers described a multifaceted career. “A few of the illustrators I work with make considerably more income from selling their work through art galleries and shows than they do from book illustration earnings,” she said. “One of the most enterprising illustrators I know has explored a whole range of outlets from wall murals for restaurants to stuffed toys, customized MINI Coopers and sold-out exhibitions of her erotic drawings. She’s also self-published two books and sold over 150,000 copies. She knows how to hustle!”
“As technology advances, there will surely be many surprises, but there’s always room for retro,” Biers said. “Older, more traditional methods of illustration may seem new and fresh to each successive generation raised on screens.”
“I had expected to see more manipulated photo/illustration with lots of overwrought digital wizardry and was pleased to see that was not the case. So much of the work still involved traditional illustration techniques based on strong drawing skills.” —Karen Powers
This year’s jurying began on Sunday morning, March 29th, in two large conference halls, each equipped with projectors for digital entries and six rows of tables for tear sheets and proofs.
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 our staff. 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. Four votes were 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 50th Annual Exhibition. —Patrick Coyne ca