Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Muddy Faces

By Jesper Ejsing

The other day I was creating another wallpaper for my screen. I try to shift the image each month choosing the latest drawing that I was happy with. Since I use the computer a lot, the wallpaper is a constant reminder of what is my best art so far. It reminds me what is good and helps me to sharpen that. To be perfectly honest I do not always know what I am doing. But focusing on the lucky ones, and staring at them each day, convinces me that I might be able to do it again.

That day I chose a wallpaper that was a zoomed in head shot of a Persian fantasy princes. It was one of those where I think I got the facial expression just right. When the face filled out my whole screen I could suddenly see all the brushstrokes and small twisted lines of transparent paint that altogether, when seen from afar or zoomed out, blends into a nicely clean face. But in the zoomed version it looked dirty and ragged.

So without thinking anymore or deeper than that about it, I skipped through a bunch of covers and plucked out all the faces, zoomed in and put them nicely together.

I am not sure what to learn from this, other than for me it felt quite good. Noticing the rough brushstrokes in the blown up versions made me feel a great deal more like an artist, and a little less like an illustrator.


  1. I've noticed other Artist/Illustrator comments from some of your previous posts and I'm very curious what your definitions of Artist and Illustrator are.

    I get the impression that you hold the title of Artist in higher regard than the title of Illustrator. Is this true, and if so why?

  2. I actually find that the looser the brushwork is, the more engaging I find the image to be...

  3. Beautiful gallery of faces. Love the light in the 3rd last, but the last (bottom right) just wins the day.

    Illustrators paint more with perfection in mind and tend to work on parts of an image, whereas the artist paints with more feel and usually works on the painting as a whole <- just my definition.

    Both have their merits, not a question of good / bad, depends more on your personal ambitions and goals.

    Please excuse my blabla.

  4. Oh hey you did the Castle Ravenloft art! Nice work!

  5. I Think the difference is that an illustrator work for hire. They are given an assignment to solve in the Best way possible. An artist creates art for his own sake with a personal choice to drive him or her. The difference is not in the work itself.

  6. >An artist creates art for his own sake with a personal choice to drive him or her<

    ...But a lot of the Old Masters worked for hire. the Sistine Chapel was a commission, The Monna Lisa was a commission, so was the Night Watch.

    Art for art's sake is a very recent concept and I wonder if it's really true, after all a fine artist has to sell to eat too (unless s/he has a different surce of income), an illustrator is just more upfront about it, in my opinion.

  7. I find making wallpapers from my own works limiting creativity and stopped doing so a few years ago. Now I have a folder with art that inspires me that is on rotation, and every new addition to this folder raises the bar.

    As for the artist Vs. illustrator thingy, I´d say an illustrator is simply someone who can make a living of their art, while artists can do so only with a lot of luck and sense for capitalism.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. EDIT: Sorry for the double posing, but I realized an error on my argument, and had to change it.

    Bonomi,I can't say much about Mona Lisa, but Michelangelo changed the composition drastically far from the original commission. It originally was only going to be just the Twelve Apostles. Liberty can be found even in a commission. (Devil's Advocate >:} ).

    I think what make illustrations different from other types of art is (other than not living off welfare) that illustrations rely more on story telling, while other types of art rely more on emotion or visual interest. While some art work, such as the Rococo period (shudder) and Romanticism, can have stories to them, but they don't always do. From magazine covers and trading cards, there's ALWAYS a story to illustrations.

  10. Interesting. I found when I had my own art on my desktop it gave me the weirdest feeling. My new thing is putting on the most incredible and well-made art I can find, so that hopefully it can slowly seep into my subconscious and help me improve.

  11. @ Sam Easton exactly, the Sistine painted by Raphael would have been a wholly different work.

    Moreover is depending from critics and gallery owners really that different than depending from ADs?

    Agree on your point about storytelling.

  12. The only difference between an artist and an illustrator is that Illustrators create work that look equally good when reproduced, compared to the original piece.

    A good example of this is how an illustrators would never use metallic gold paint on a painting, because the shiny metallic effect can never be achieved on reproduction, where as artists do not have to care -- as they are producing a one-of-a-kind piece that is intended to viewed in person.

  13. If you try to differentiate between art and illustration then you need a definition for both. Illustration is easier although always evolving but any definition of art can be added to or contradicted.

    Rick berry in a recent interview said something great when asked the definition of art. First he said piss off, then he said the definition of art is something that is always being defined and the pursuit of new definitions. It refreshes and re-inspires (paraphrasing).

    Just thought I'd stir the waters a little. Trying to fit art into a neat cup doesn't work in our contemporary world. The thing is illustration has the greater history and its own grand definition. I don't know why we need to aspire to anything else.

  14. I'd say all illustration is art but all art is not illustration... Lots of people who call themselves fine artists work for hire.

    The problem with the word art nowadays is that a lot of people want it to mean different things. And the word 'artist' carries a certain status, so of course people who call themselves artists don't want everyone else to call themselves the same thing. So they invent a definition of the word that suits them. Which gets confusing because historically the word means something else. But really, it's just a word and in the end it's what you do that matters...


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