A Lost World: The Missed History of Illustration

By Bee Hughes.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 21, 2017 $US5.00

Illustration is fundamental to our engagement with images. It has either stood in for language or been implicit in the introduction of language for centuries, presenting ideas and communicating stories to both preliterate and literate societies. It must therefore be recognised that illustration has a rich and complex history which has been influenced by events including the printing and publishing revolution, literary movements, religious storytelling, and scientific discovery, while remaining a separate and distinct practice. Rick Poynor states that illustration is widely regarded “as an adjunct of design” leading to the decreasing recognition of its distinct historical lineage by practitioners, educators, and students alike. The result is a practice overwhelmingly attached to the present and immediate future, focused on passing trends with only occasional and selective reference to the practice’s rich cultural and artistic heritage. This is a unique state within the arts or any subject beyond. Wider art and design practices have established and dedicated historical and critical frameworks, yet it is difficult to pinpoint these within illustrative practice and scholarship. This article considers how and why this shift has occurred, discussing methods of inquiry and potential outcomes of the rediscovery and synthesis of the disparate strands of the history of illustration.

Keywords: Illustration, Education, History, Graphic Arts, Commercial Art, Contextual Studies, Art and Design History, Art and Design Research

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 8, Issue 2, June 2017, pp.69-75. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 21, 2017 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 409.445KB)).

Bee Hughes

Assistant Lecturer, Liverpool School of Art and Design, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK; PhD Candidate in Media, Culture, and Communication, School of Humanities and Social Science, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK