Stories and novels need illustration. This need for illustrations will be fully realized only if the illustrator’s contribution is counted in. The works of M. Bhaskaran, M.V. Devan and Namboothiri continue to underscore for us their lasting contribution to illustration art. Their illustrations were based on an acute understanding of the core of the story and in that their illustrations are completely at odds with nearly all contemporary work. This is not in any way an outcome of changing times or caused by technological intrusion.
A mode of illustration which has nothing to do with the story or the characters has become commonplace today. The major reason for this being the influx of abstract painters into the domain of illustration art. They brought their style to bear upon assignments that found its way to them. Since these came from well-known names, magazine editors felt obliged to carry them. Thus, illustrations independent of stories started gaining ground, while others got the cue and followed suit. There is one more reason to this. Some adopted this style to conceal their failings in drawing and anatomy. Both editors who saw this as change and artists who feared that they would be judged if they were to buck the trend fell into the trap. Gradually, the handsome men and beautiful women of the story started to look ugly. This does not in any way aid the story. Instead, it destroys the story. The writers went mum and drowned their frustration. On top of that, an illustration deserving of a column is forcefully elaborated into multiple pages putting additional financial burden on the publisher.
A fine layout is an indispensable aspect of any publication. We had artists like A.S. who could visualize the layout in his mind’s eye before he got down to work on a story, poem or novel. What about artists of today?
The field of illustration art should evolve with time. Artists who effectively make use of new technology are not anywhere to be seen. I feel it could be because of the difficulty around acquiring training that many new people are not entering the field. But there are some artists who tend to deride those who adapt to technological change. And there are those who ridicule the medium without any understanding of how it aids art practice. Changing times demand computer-aided illustrations that at the same time do not distance readers and writers from the image. However, playing with colours to hide one’s inadequacy can’t be change.
I had started experimenting on computer since 2005. I am going into this following short story writer Harikumar’s lead when he touched on computers and observed that he had not encountered a fully computerized artwork up to this point. Encouraged by his observation, I am presenting some works which are fully developed on a computer. These include illustrations for Chief Secretary Babu Paul’s service story carried by the Madhyamam weekly and some novel illustrations published by Deshabhimani and others. My current work blends both mediums. I have tried keeping pace with technology to some degree. It is just that readers and other artists were not privy to this. I hope that young artists who are keen to enter this field will experiment more on computers. It is also something that our times demand of us.
Kalapoorna Magazine, 2014