Review by Amy Pay
Taschen, for the uninitiated, produce some of the most beautiful art books in existence. Always carefully compiled, dotted with facts and printed in rich coloured ink, their publications are a real treat to flick through. 100 Illustrators is one of the latest releases from Taschen, and, like its ancestors, its massive, shiny and bright pages of eye-candy will lure you in (page sniffing and picture stroking highly likely).
Divided into two hardback volumes, one for each half of the alphabet, the combined length of 100 Illustrators is a substantial 640 pages. To choose the 100 illustrators, veteran art enthusiasts and Taschen editors Steve Heller and Julius Weidemann sifted through their hailed Illustration Now! series and picked out those they feel are the most important illustrators of the moment.
Each artist is profiled across six pages of large high quality images to lose yourself in, a few concise paragraphs of biographical context and some useful sources for further reading. One fun aspect of the book is that each artist has created their own self-portrait for inclusion in their profile, often giving an insight into how the artists see themselves and merging the biographical with the visual.
If you think illustration is merely about doodles drawn with a HB pencil, think again; the variety of illustrations in 100 Illustrators is astounding. Sure, there are pencil drawings, but they are no simple doodles on the back of a napkin. There’s also digital collages, bold geometric graphics, ghostly charcoals, acrylic and oil paintings and a whole host more techniques used by artists young and old, emerging and established.
Mystical, dusky paintings of Anita Kunz and Antoine Helbert sit aside the cutout graphic edges of Patrick Hruby and Olimpia Zagnoli. Gabriel Moreno’s tender portraits share a slipcase with eBoy’s pixilation fixation. The collection never feels disjointed, rather it emphasises the diversity, dynamism and promise in the world of illustration today.
Check out the Culture section in Issue 141 (February 2014) of Quench Magazine for a feature on illustration in Cardiff.