The Thin Line Between Art & Illustration

29 Apr

I’ve never dreamt of becoming an illustrator (and I’m not exactly one too just yet).  But the truth is, I’ve been drawing and coloring for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I drew out of my imaginations.. sometimes I painted what I see (life or print) and tried to capture the feeling or whatever the inspiration was… to the canvas. Sometimes I was confused whether I was producing Art or Illustration.

A Fairy in My Imagination

A Girl I Saw Playing in the Village

When I have decided that I wanted to be able to make a living out of my passion in painting.. yes, I thought I would become an Artist. I should be seriously finding my niche, sharpen my painting skill, be more observant of  ‘life’ and what makes of it. I also thought I should be able to think and see differently from what others are seeing… in some ways. But the world is cruel. Life as an Artist is quite challenging when you still don’t know which path you should take… or more importantly, what kind of Artist are you?  When you have nothing to share on the canvas.. who will buy your art works? When no one knows your art works.. who wants to hire or pay you? And some people still think it’s easy to be an Artist… ?

Along the way of making Art, I’ve forgotten how enjoyable creating characters and stories out of my imaginations because I was too busy with more ‘serious’ artworks.  I was ‘stuck’ for quite some time while producing paintings.

I feel glad to be able to blog, meet great artists online, read what established and popular Artists/ Illustrators are up to, plus take up some Artful Online Challenges… because it helps to broaden my horizon in the Art field. Really, I’m so thankful. It’s like I’m slowly clearing out the clogged drains in the backyard of my Panji Alam house.

It was ever confusing on the issue of whether you’re an Artist or an illustrator. Are illustrators considered Artists… and vice versa?

Some people say that- Artists paint what they want; Illustrators paint what the client wants. Most of the time, an illustrator will paint or draw something to go along with a story written/ spoken/ observed. He or she will be paid doing it… or sometimes, not (if he/she did it for personal satisfaction). Illustration, by definition, is a creative process that is a service for a client.

Tailleferlong from wrote that, Fine Art is defined as a service to the artist’s own vision. Illustration is thought of as a profession whereas Art is considered a way of life. Hmm… that’s quite true, isn’t it?

Some think that all Illustrators are Artists but not all Artists are Illustrators. Get it? Artists for the most part, create art for art sakes. If someone wants to buy the art works the artists created, it’s because of he/she likes what he sees or for any personal reasons. But what about ‘commissioned’ paintings? They are not considered illustrations, are they?

James Montgomery Flagg, one of American famous artist and illustrator was quoted, “The only difference between a fine artist and an illustrator is that the latter can draw, eat three square meals a day, and can afford to pay for them”. Haha.. that’s a good one!

While sculptor David Smith said, “Art that meets the minds and needs of other people is commercial art. Art that meets the minds and needs of oneself is fine art.”

At one time, someone told me that in ‘real’ life, you can’t see ‘lines’- meaning, things around us are distinguished by forms, depths and spaces in between.. so if your drawing or painting shows ‘lines’- for example, outline of a face or a tree, etc…; then, it is an illustration. Is that so? That got me into thinking, what about Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol ? They are considered as Pop Artists and not illustrators… (?).  What about Norman Rockwell ? I thought his paintings were as real as they get but he was known as American most beloved illustrator and in fact, “thought of himself first and foremost a commercial illustrator.”

Norman Rockwell, one of my favorites!

Once I received an email saying how good a ‘ draftsman’ I was, after looking at my painting. Hmm..  I never thought of myself as draftsman before, really. I wonder why he thought of me as that. Is it because most of my paintings are drawn from real scenes and people?

I have met some people with a perception that Illustrator is somewhat lesser than an Artist. But does she/he know how financially well off an illustrator can be compared to a surviving artist, sometimes? There are also some illustrators who would feel offended if they are not considered artists. That should not be the case, I think. No matter what you do, are doing or have done; you are basically an Artist. Talented or not… skilful or less… now that’s a different matter.

Sometimes, this is what I think- do whatever you love and can do… and if you can earn your living by doing it.. keep on doing it and you can be one happy multi-talented Artist at large! Why must we confined our world into who is artist and who’s not? Just don’t let yourself starved for something that you believed in. It’s just important to be YOU. In today’s world, it seems… the more important matter is about The Thin Line Between Living and Surviving.


Posted by on April 29, 2011 in Home


4 responses to “The Thin Line Between Art & Illustration

  1. Tammie

    May 2, 2011 at 12:50 am

    thank you for these thoughts, both of your pieces are wonderful.

    • yartstik

      May 2, 2011 at 2:00 am

      Thanks Tammie.. I’m really happy you dropped by 🙂

  2. codex

    May 3, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Hi Baby,

    nicely written.

    Seems like those thin lines,

    exist everywhere!


    • yartstik

      May 5, 2011 at 10:20 am

      Yup. Even in between us…


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