Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Matthew Richardson & Otto Dettmer
Practitioners- Matthew Richardson & Otto Dettmer
The two practitioners that I have chosen for analysis are Matthew Richardson and Otto Dettmer to compare and contrast their methods and practices in the context of the industry. Matthew Richardson is an illustrator whose imagery combines collage, printmaking and digital media having had experience in advertising, editorial and book cover design.
The design industry demands an attractive aesthetic to catch a viewers eye and Richardson’s work definitely has this making use of full colour in his compositions. Upon viewing his images he shows evidence of a trait common to successful illustrators, that of being a visual magpie collecting found imagery, in Richardson’s case using textured papers as backgrounds. There is a sense of eclecticism in his choice of media as his style also combines painting, line and photography. Style is an important part of being an illustrator, particularly a recognisable one and utilising a medium effectively is part of this.
Within the Illustration industry visual communication is an important aspect, the communication of the idea in Richardson’s imagery is what is more difficult to read as a viewer. Although the visuals are attractive and very striking, often they have a mysterious quality about them. Within editorial design in which Richardson’s work is largely based however, it is important to take into consideration how the image marries with the text so the illustrator is not just cloning the text, in this respect Richardson’s imagery is strong, his images often communicate feelings.
Wit is valuable in the industry and an important part of a successful visual which is evident in his work too. Often wit can amuse prompting a laugh or a smile from an image capturing the viewer’s attention but also can offer the reward of satisfaction to the viewer having deciphered it. It is about the interaction between the viewer and the image, an example of wit in Richardson’s case would be using a photograph of a pen quill and using it as sail with a boat made out of paper. People semiotically make the link between objects and the positioning of them. Another important quality in an image is charm, trying to capture the spirit of I.e. an object which Richardson uses where appropriate to his advantage. With so many graduates becoming part of the industry highly populated already, using wit and charm can contribute to a successful career as when used properly can achieve unique results.
Otto Dettmer is an illustrator who has enjoyed success in the industry in editorial and advertising having developed a style that incorporates screen-print, collage and digital media. Dettmer similarly to Richardson has an attractive style capable of drawing a viewer’s attention but the styles look completely different. Dettmer’s work tends to be much more slimmed down using a large amount of white space, images tend more to be vignettes contrasting’s Richardson’s full colour backgrounds. The effect of this is Dettmer’s work looks clearer, simpler and communicatively direct to the viewer. Contrasting Matthew Richardson Dettmer tends not to use found imagery but is resourceful in the sense of using unlikely media such as accidental photocopy textures. Dettmer claims not to believe in style but his style does seem more precise in the execution of ideas.
Viewing Dettmer’s work there are strong repetitive themes such as the use of mannequin heads. An important part of surviving as an illustrator is building yourself a visual library as sometimes an illustrator may be commissioned to produce an image with a deadline of a few hours. Having visited his studio in London it was memorable because of all the elements that I had seen in previous works pinned to the wall to be reused and rehashed with newer elements and ideas. Also many illustrators will back up textures, patterns and objects for reuse in the future for the purpose of expediency. Being expedient is important for an illustrator because you need to give an art director the confidence that you can meet a deadline as one of the comments that stuck in my mind when Andrew Pavitt did a talk at College was that the design industry is small and if you cant meet a deadline word will quickly get round and so your career will crumble.
Visual language is integral to an illustrator in the industry and Richardson and Dettmer strongly contrast each other in this sense. Dettmer is more direct and his imagery is punchier, the communication of the idea is often given to you on a plate whereas Richardson’s imagery as mentioned above is less easier to decipher and looks richer. This difference is common within Illustration as an illustrator when developing their visual language will be drawing on not just design theory but they’re own personal influences essentially what makes them tick drawing on childhood influences, TV, film practically anything that has inspired them. But this doesn’t mean one is better than the other I believe that Dettmer’s work works close up and far away because of the simplicity of elements and bold use of white space. In this sense I think his style is more appropriate to advertising. In contrast Matthew Richardson has produced book cover designs including Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ’Love in a time of Cholera’. His style is excellent for book cover design because of the richness of his aesthetic approach whereas Dettmer’s work doesn’t work in this area because of the simple approach. This is an important consideration when working in the industry putting yourself in context and promoting yourself in the right areas. Often when browsing editorial directories they’re will be a brief description of what each magazine is looking for and there will be varying appropriateness of style. Overall with all these industry constrictions and parameters Dettmer and Richardson both have strong visuals achieving success in a competitive industry. Upon this analysis the lessons that I have learnt are the importance of the aesthetic approach and communication coming to the conclusion that I believe in a balance between abstraction and communication.