Lurzer’s Archive: 200 Best Illustrators Worldwide 09/10 is one of those rare delights that without even trying, has something to suit every taste. Whatever takes your fancy- fantastical children’s book art; politically charged images like Mao Zedong wearing Louis Vuitton; graphic novels, or chic fashion editorial – its all here – and more, to whet the appetite of art lovers everywhere. It’s the third edition of this luscious, full colour annual that showcases the work of 200 Illustrators around the globe, both established and emerging. It’s designed beautifully; bringing together a myriad of styles seamlessly, that keeps you turning the page right until the end.
The book is divided into categories according to what the illustration’s original purpose was- advertising, editorial, book covers, products (rather a broad category!), self promotion; and the list goes on. This clever choice of structure presents the 200 artists as an international community- culturally diverse, but strongly united. The names of the artists are printed under each image – but where they’re from is of no importance; if you want to know that, you have to look them up in the index. Although certain magazine titles such as Das Magazin and The New Yorker are slight giveaways- this merely adds an exotic flavour to the mix. Being weaved amongst images created for familiar international brands like Vogue, Saatchi & Saatchi, Martini, Vanity Fair and many others – in today’s global climate, many of us would scarce notice.
Lurzers’s is a publication that, rather than loudly announces, quietly presents the message that an illustrator’s nationality doesn’t have much to do with style; but it does affect their attitude, and their sense of humour. Take the piece for the Taiwan Art Education Centre, by Page Tsou. It’s a quaint, delicate style of drawing, reminiscent of 1950’s pen and ink – but the content is plain weird! It’s more like the bookish lovechild of M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali – a world where books, birds and fruit are all bigger than humans, and clouds look like sticky, sweet chewing gum. Next, I’m tempted to fly to London after seeing Paul Pateman’s promo for the Museum of Childhood, captioned ‘Adults must be accompanied by inner child’. More disturbing is Pavel Klubnikin’s poster for the International Organization for Migration; ‘This is the price you could pay for working abroad illegally’ is emblazoned across an image of a prostitute on the street- transposed into the design of a banknote. Then there’s Daniel Stolle’s editorial illustration for Die Zeit Literatur: it shows a well dressed man, pulling playful faces… and headless. An interesting expression, to say the least.
It’s pleasing to note that illustrators Neryl Walker, Nathaniel Eckstrom, and several others, dash whatever our Australian stereotype might be. Walker is the mind behind the sassy and buxom Bloom Cosmetics girls; while Eckstrom’s slightly japanime, wide-eyed characters are mysterious and melancholy. These vastly different Illustrators can’t be linked in any way except for their chosen profession. In fact, Australia is the 5th ranking country for contributors to the book- we can’t be boring to have claimed that spot!
Anita Kunz is a Canadian Illustrator who features heavily, and seems to have a knack for humour, which I probably would have mistaken for German, if I hadn’t looked her up. A lot of her work is, to say the least, rather gutsy. Last year, her tongue in cheek depiction of George W. Bush made the front cover of Lurzer’s; this year, one of her many offerings is an image for The New Yorker- picturing three women in a bikini, a burka, and a nun’s outfit – all crammed together on a bus stop bench. Tasty stuff. The book can’t help but point out how fantastically individual each part of the collective art community really is. It’s also an open minded place- where being cheeky, playful or raunchy are all more than welcome. Cue entries from Playboy and Penthouse magazine- but be warned that some of the images from Das Magazin are probably closer to what you’d expect from the former- who by comparison, are quite conservative. Haven’t seen bondage girls in embroidery? You will now- Norbert Horvath solves that dilemma with his tactile fashion illustrations.
It’s not all just eye candy though. Particularly intriguing is a three-page interview with Jason Brooks, one of the judges for the content of the book, but also one of today’s most sought after illustrators. Some of his best known work in Australia is his CD cover designs for the Hed Kandi Chill series. His style is instantly recognizable, having spawned many a copycat across the world since the 90’s. It features sleek, perfect, often long haired girls – these days, mostly computer generated – in situ sipping wide rimmed cocktails, lounging and socialising in ultra-hip bars, and generally looking to die for gorgeous and fashionable. Despite this glamorous aura around the work, and obvious success, the British Brooks remains surprisingly down to earth. He reveals a vulnerability most artists can identify with, saying that “…I always feel a slight dissatisfaction with everything I have done before, and hope my next piece of work will be better.” This, coming from someone who got his first illustration commission at age 13, speaks volumes about the headspace of an artist.
By the time you make it to the last page, its just not enough. I want it to keep going, and am also mildly curious to read the articles, check out the places and hold the products hinted at by this visual playground. Regardless of this though, the illustrations are strong, speaking fully for themselves; as Jason Brooks put it: ‘…a picture can’t be bolstered or given false meaning by long and complicated supporting text’. It’s true- there’s no room for pretentious fluff in these pages. He also said that ‘…I’ve got lots of ideas and dreams in reserve.’ If I may be so bold as to say that I feel the same way, then I should add: this collection helps ignite a fire under the melting pot inside me. For the artist in need of inspiration- buy this book. To the rest of the art loving world- buy this book. I’ll make a personal bet that you won’t be disappointed.
Lurzer’s Archive: 200 Best Illustrators Worldwide 09/10 is available now through several retail outlets – find one at www.selectair.com.au; or directly from the website www.luerzersarchive.net
Here’s a review I wrote about a book that’s just been released- which features my artowork ‘Black Back’!!! Published on the Arts Hub website (artshub.com.au)