In the process of researching for projects for degree work I often come across artists, designers, illustrators that I find fascinating. I don’t always make the time to comment on or collate examples of these. Often Pinterest is my chosen place of visual collation – I have boards where I digitally collect images in several different categories. I wanted to take the time to reflect on the work of two illustrators whose work I’ve discovered recently; Owen Gent & Marina Muun.
A month or so ago the website, It’s Nice That, featured an article on Owen Gent’s exploration of the Resurrection. I was initially intrigued to see a contemporary, illustrated approach to the Resurrection, mostly because I feel there are few images that have that approach.
There are a multitude of elements I could comment on in a sort of analysis of the series of images, but I’ll try to keep it succinct. I think they work well as a collection of images because of a consistent colour scheme, and repeating visual elements, such as the orange sun, mountainous shapes, white foreground and shadow like figures. The sun reminds me of the sunrise, and for me represents new life, resurrection. The figure in white (see Illustration 1) for me represents Christ after the resurrection – he still has the form or shape of a human but is clearly different – represented by a bright white, and brilliantly contrasted next to the grey tinged figure next to him. Illustration 2 reminds me of scriptures around resurrection of many people, seems like trying to represent people disappearing, again the figures are white, semi translucent, that gives the effect of vanishing or fading away. The figures appear to be floating upwards, to me a fairly straightforward way of suggesting movement heavenwards (for some reason heaven is always visually suggested to be above us).
Illustrations 3 & 4 have a more contemplative feel to them. In Illustration 3, a figure appears to be looking at an image or painting, it reminds me of someone seeing an image in a gallery or museum. The painting features mountains and a warm orange sun rising in the sky. For me the sun here represents rising hope, the hope of resurrection. I think the figure, whose hands are folded behind his back could represent modern man looking at and considering the resurrection. There is a distance between him and the concept (as there is between the man and the painting) and he is uncertain of what to think. I wonder if the painting also represents the resurrection being seen by modern man as a strange story or fabricated event, particularly given an increasingly secular society.
Illustration 4 has that similar questioning feeling. The figure sitting on the end of a plank of wood appears to have his hand under his chin, lost in contemplation or perhaps sorrow. The planks of wood, are arrange to overlap, with a stripe of red colour to them, this red has connotations of blood, the death on the cross. But the planks of wood don’t form a cross they sit differently, the sun appears to almost be sitting on or resting on the edge of the plank behind the seated figure. This for me seems like playing with our concept of life and death, the reversal of natural forces, represented by the sun appearing to sit on the plank of wood. The wood being rearranged again for me is a visual link to the breaking of the cross and the resurrection as a reversal of or breaking of the power of death. The man has his back to the sun, I wonder if this is supposed to represent modern man again not knowing how to face the concept of resurrection, rather than looking straight at the sun he has its back to it.
I could go on and on – my point being that these illustrations do cause you to stop and re-consider the subject. I think that makes the illustrations a successful piece of visual communication.
I also wanted to give some consideration to a series of illustrations Gent produced for a Samaritan’s advertising campaign aimed at a Chinese audience called, Talk – Samaritans.
I think these illustrations are so beautifully constructed that they speak for themselves. Owen Gent offers a little more insight into the process or brief for the illustrations on his website, saying they represent the five main causes of depression and suicide in China.
I really love the use of speech bubbles to represent the two different sides of the conversation – the person suffering and the Samaritan offering support. I also love the sense of hope the imagery connected to the Samaritan has – the white bubble, represents for me hope, wisdom, answers. I don’t really want to say anything else because the images just deserve to be considered without my thoughts cluttering them!!
I found Marina Muun’s work whilst searching for an image to analyse in my previous exercise. I wanted to share a few other images of her’s, partly because they represent a style I like and partly just to share!!
I selected this image mainly because I like the ideas being represented. The couple (presumably) in the image appear to be playing a game of chess, but the chess pieces are items of furniture of household goods. I just think it’s a funny idea to see the decision to place items around the home as game of chess, with it’s connotation of calculation, trying to catch the other person off guard.
I also admire her use of colours and pattern within the image, the yellow colours offset against the deep blue and purple. The patterns seen on the chess board, the hedge row and man’s jumper all add a softness and playful feel.
The image opposite, created for illustration magazine Wrap, seems much more like a piece of story telling. It has a more sombre feel, with it’s muted colours, grey green’s and off yellow. I love how many elements are mixed within the image, the two girls, the house/river, the plants and snake. It’s a busy image but it isn’t overwhelming and I think that’s due to her limited colour range and using rounded shapes, pattern to add texture.
My last image is actually a Gif, which you can see in action here. I think it’s just a beautiful soft, nostalgia evoking image. I love the use of something consider retro (the polaroid print) in a modern medium (animated Gif). I’m also struck by the simplicity of it, the grey’s, the subtle print like speckles. It makes me want to go exploring!!