Why Illustration?

This post is all about the meaning of Illustration. Monica and I have always loved to look at pictures. We knew early on that illustration would be very much a part of our lives. So in order to express what illustration really means to us, we've decide to answer the following questions:

1. What does illustration mean to you?

Monica: I've always been surrounded by books! I'm the youngest of three siblings so that meant inheriting all of their picture books! I spent hours going through them and absorbing their illustrations. It was the only way I could understand the story since I still couldn't read. I immersed myself in all the books’ colors and lines that I even imagined myself as part of the story. This was one of my favorite activities as a child. I'm very fond of those memories. Illustration is just that: Home! It's the warmth and happiness that only home can give you.

Aimee: When I hear the word illustration, two meanings pop up into my head. On the one hand, I imagine a drawing or a picture. On the other hand, it tells me that I need to make my ideas clearer, that is more examples are necessary. But those two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive. Illustration is the tool that helps me make easier the act of communicating because everyone understands pictures, drawings, and colors. When words fail, a simple drawing of a heart can save the day!

2. Who are your favorite illustrators?

Monica: There are too many to choose from; old and new. But I'll say that Alice Provensen has a special place in my heart because her little children, rabbits, and birds are so adorably cute! Also because it's my way of honoring a great illustrator that just recently passed away this April at the age of 99. She illustrated more than 40 books and won the Caldecott Medal and received a Caldecott Honor.

Aimee: I really don't have favorite illustrators, what I do have is a favorite artistic style and movement: I love mid-century modern! So anyone, new and old, that fits into this has two thumbs up from me!

3. What would you like to accomplish with your illustrations?

Monica: I'd love that my illustrations make people happy and smile, people need to be reminded of our common humanity, and that kindness and goodness are the best antidote to the darkness in the world.

Aimee: I'd like that my illustrations help people better understand each other. If someone needs to defuse a complicated situation, say sorry or thank you, etc., I'd like to think that one of my greeting cards helped; even if it was in a small way.

4. Favorite books about illustration?

Monica: There are so many good books about illustration and technique; for example “Sketching your favorite subjects in Pen and Ink” by Claudia Nice. However if you are looking at Illustration as a possible career, I'd recommend “Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk  to Children about their Art”. It’s a simple read with lots of fun anecdotes, tips, and colorful illustrations. It doesn't get any better than that!

Aimee: Like any of the beaux arts (yes, I do include illustration here!), you do need to learn some basic art concepts. You can still draw in your own unique way but you absolutely need to understand concepts like: symmetry and asymmetry, white space, dominance and repetition, etc. I have found these two books to be very useful, a good starting point: “Mastering Composition: Techniques and Principles to Dramatically Improve Your Painting” by Ian Roberts and “Art Journal Freedom: How to Journal Creatively With Color & Composition” by Dina Wakley.

5. What piece of advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?

Monica: Put your favorite music on and draw! Start by drawing what you love. If you are feeling a little intimidated start by drawing something simple such as flowers. These are great because they don't have to look perfect. If you make illustration your priority, soon you'll see improvement in your drawings and your style will become evident.

Aimee: Turn off your inner critic! We've all been there. We say to ourselves that we can't draw and that nobody will like our illustrations. You need to put those thoughts aside. Don't worry too much and don't compare yourself to others. Everyone is at a different stage and remember that everyone is unique!