Hello, Judith here. Over the last few months, and especially following the recent American election, I have been reflecting on my work as an illustrator and as an advocate for illustrators and illustration. With deepening political polarisation, rising inequality, and oppressive governments elected in Europe and around the word I think it is pretty timely to ask: as illustrators what role can we, should we, or do we want to play in society?
As illustrators we work in one of the broadest and most engaging mediums of visual communication. We tell stories, create ads, sell products, embellish texts, protest and inform, teach children and cause adults to chuckle. Our illustrations are online, in apps, in the streets, at your office, on your T-shirt and in your magazine. Our voices are everywhere. But in my opinion, and in the immortal words of Spider-Man, with great power there must also come great responsibility!
I am interested in exploring what the current wave of divisive politics means in relation to our rights, opportunities and responsibilities as creators and communicators. How do illustrators help shape the way people see the world? What steps could we take to make our role and work more democratic, more inclusive, more transparent, more informed, more engaging? What do we want to say, how can we say it? And importantly, how does that relate to our livelihoods and to the broader illustration industry?
Of course, not everyone starts from the same place or position, has the same politics, nor has the same opportunities. Here below are some of my thoughts and questions, and I welcome your ideas/suggestions/criticisms!! There is a comments box below the article, and I will also add this to the Illustrators Illustrated Facebook page, so please add your voice to the discussion, I would love to hear what others think.
Illustrators are creative, smart communicators – we can communicate emotion in a single line. How can we champion, and yes, sell, the importance of creativity and illustration while being critical at the same time? How can we harness the energy of individual and collective creative brilliance for social good?
In asking these questions and taking some action, no matter how small, I think we can expand our ideas about illustration and our role as illustrators. There are so many on- and off-line spaces where we can add our voices, and in reaching out to others I think it will help us to continue developing as active, mindful and connected voices in the visual arts and wider society.
Text and Graphics by Judith Carnaby
10 November 2016, Berlin