BFAwesome :: editorial

{remember how i used to write about my classes after the end of each semester? well, a new one is about to start, so i figure i'd better catch up....}

fall '09 marked my first semester in the illustration BFA program. the BFA (bachelor of fine arts) program is different from the BA (bachelor of arts), because it has a separate application process after you spend a year in the BA program. once in the BFA, it takes about an extra year (or in my case, 2...or 3) to graduate because you are then required to take more specialized courses.

i take lots of different types of illustration classes. so. for you non-art people out there, when you think of illustration, what do you think of? (no, really. i'm curious--what DO you think of? leave it in the comments section!)

go ahead, i'll wait....


ok. well, one way that illustration can be used is in editorial work. these pieces would go into a magazine, newspaper (or as the industry goes nowadays--) news website, etc.

one of the courses i took was editorial illustration, with richard hull and chris thornock. editorial is different from narrative illustration (such as children's books) because it takes an abstract idea or concept and by way of visual symbols, communicate their meaning (via a finished piece of artwork). cool, eh?

it takes lots of creativity and patience. and time. lots of that. we learned how to use acrylic paint in this class, and i really enjoyed it since i hadn't painted in acrylic seriously since i worked for guy francis back in high school.

the first few paintings we did were just studies, to learn how to use the medium in different ways. for these, we had to use the style of a particular artist we admired from either the communication arts or society of illustrators annual magazines.

the first is in the style of josh cochran and we had to design a 1950's pick up truck, vespa scooter, or small sailboat. and the second...well, i don't really remember. but we had to use transparent washes.

'cupcake', used acrylic washes
'city scoot', used palate knife
the next two pieces were just to help us to take abstract concepts and get us thinking outside of the box.
 'the new world' -- use an abstract word (i used 'flat') to create something with meaning
we had to use a toned palette (one base color to create color harmony)
'cloud 9' -- reinvent a cliché to give it new meaning. as you can see, 9 is storming,
and not quite as chipper as the other clouds....
we had to use a specific typical cliché symbol (i chose 'cloud')
the next three pieces were interesting. look first, then read the explanation.

had to use cross-hatching and split complementary palette
the above piece was based off of this news article, regarding locational privacy. kind of a scary thought...knowing that we can be stalked in a number of ways these days.
'thou shalt be clean'
same specs as 'tracks' piece
the above piece was based off this article, regarding a study about the correlation between literal cleanliness and morality. it's really quite an interesting concept when you think about it.

now, last but not least:
'a thing with feathers'

the last was one of my favorites to do. the prompt was, 'secret garden: what are we really and secretly nurturing in our hearts?' this one actually has a lot of meaning behind it...but i'll leave that up to you. ;)

(by the way...illustration is, by nature, narrative. it tells a story of some sort. thus, there's not supposed to be as much guesswork for the viewer, like a gallery or studio arts piece, but it's nice to not spell everything out all the time. just to clarify:)


Clancy and Katie Black said...

I love love love your artwork and you too!!! I would probably say that I usually think of children's books when I think of Illustration. Hope you're doing great!

Aym said...


K said...

I think of thin black outlines and wonderful Dr. Martin Dyes colors. Then I think of Pyle and Rackham and Bauer. Then Mark Buehner. I think of people who can imagine worlds onto a page.

Funny, when I first saw the scooter, before I read what it was, I thought the tiny blue area was a face, a masked face, on a head wearing an odd, red sort of jester horned headress, and the garment the figure was wearing swept up behind, as though the wind had caught it, like the robe of a Catholic bishop, billowing out behind.

I liked all of concepts you came up with. The Cloud Nine was a touch facile, but the feathers one more than made up for that. I'm still thinking about it.

Zachary said...

I remember you doing each one of these pieces. It was so fun to see your process and to see each piece come to life. My favorite is still the girl feeding the bird. I love that one. We all have something inside of us that we cherish close to our hearts and we do everything we can to protect it and nourish it. Such a fascinating and beautiful piece.

Illustration is so fascinating. I love the stories they tell most of all. One illustration can say everything that words can and then more. I guess that's why I always loved picture books. Too bad most text books don't come like that. :)

I can't wait to see more illustrations from you. I love them.

awendybird said...

You are so very talented Kristin! I LOVE "new world" but really really love "thing with feathers"!!!

Kerry Jane said...

Okay, so I'm definitely not an art person. When I think of illustrations I'm with Katie, I think of "narrative illustration" as you called it. I guess besides political cartoons I haven't really been exposed to much to editorial illustrations (and I doubt those even count!). Illustrations that show part of a story being told.

Brianna said...

remember how I am OBSESSED with your art! AHH I love it!

Diana said...

Thanks for sharing your art again Kristin. I love when you do. My favorite is "A Thing With Feathers" I know it never asks, but I think I feed mine too. :) Hope you're doing well.

Katherine Chipman said...

When I think of illustrations I think of picture books and how the illustrations can tell the story as much as the words do. Thanks for sharing your artwork!

ktln said...

First thing I think of: children's books. Definitely. Mostly cause they're on my list of favorite things in the entire world.

I love your art.

M.R. Weaver said...

I love your arts. c:

Also I love that screen-texture you have on "Cloud 9"
/Love/ that.


I look forward to good things from you!

Brooke said...

Could you BE more awesome?? I think not! ;)

Kaylie said...

Great artwork, Kristin! I really like your attention to detail and the textures in your pieces. And they're all very imaginative! I'm excited to see more!

Annah said...

LOVE YOUR ARTWORK :) Everything is absolutely gorgeous.

And illustration makes everything pop to life.

Rick said...

I liked the illustrations. I like to illustrate. We connect.

JMay said...

You have such a talent! I am impressed!!!

Laura said...

When I think of illustrations I think of children's books, because I took a class on writing children's books. go figure. Stay awesome.

--jeff * said...

ok, first off, i remember you telling me about your editorial illustration class and i thought it sounded really pretty dang.
i'm glad i was right.

i appreciate the clarification of what "illustration" is in the editorial sense. i mean, i'm an art grad student and all, but it niece to get the details straight all the same.

in short, i'm glad i'm wearing slippers, otherwise my socks would have been rocked off.

*dig the whack perspective on the vespa scene and the excellent shadows.
*love the textures of the giant cupcake and the approaching belle (as well as the color scheme)
*big-like the background of the flat world. seriously. and hooray for complementary colors.
*excellent concept for the digital footprints and executed smoothly.
*for the windex bottle, did you write all the text in the background? i'm still trying to figure that out…
oh, hello full-size.
no, i don't think you did. still. like. lots. (and interesting source article. i'll buy citrus windex next time…)
*feathers thing: looks like a birdhouse in your soul to me…. and to me, that's about your conscience. : )

Jed said...

Kristen, thanks for the nice comment on my blog. This is my first time on yours, and I'm super impressed! Your ability to communicate clearly with intelligent symbols is impressive. Also, I'm loving your paint application. All those fun layers just jump off the canvas. Way to go.

AmberZ said...

When I think of illustration, I first envision an artist sitting at his/her lighted desk with a giant piece of paper on it and a sketch pencil in hand. Simply staring at the canvas in awe and uncertainty, imagining what it will soon become. I picture the artist drawing on multiple pieces of paper, holding each between the fingers, flipping through one after the other, back an forth, memorizing and sketching each change of movement of a character, object or scene. The artist then puts the creation to life with color, then putting on the computer in some magical, time-consuming, inspirational way. Illustration is a way of making things seem intensely real when in real life it would be nearly impossible to exist. Illustration is the imagination that is missing in the minds of many, but prominent in the hearts of the artist. -Amber Zibetti