Illustration is far from being a dirty word

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The sheer arrogance of Lawrence Zeegen (Class of ’89, DW 31 January) is quite breathtaking. He asserts that being course director at Camberwell is a “project” and that “after five years I’ll do something else”. He may be keeping his options open, but what about those students he is responsible for in the interim?

Having been involved in illustration for more than 30 years, first as a full-time illustrator (and one who certainly did not end up “working in the bedroom or garden shed”) and latterly running The Artworks, which represents a group of successful illustrators, I do not agree with Zeegen.

Much as I applaud his energy, I take exception to his assertion that young art directors think “illustration is a dirty word”. There is a very buoyant market out there, and the past two years have been the best in The Artworks’ history. The market has a real need for artists who take pride in their craft and have a well-developed sense of innovation without having to hop on and off every bandwagon that trundles into sight. What is unfortunate is that individuals who are in the position of exerting influence (and that includes young artists of the future) should abuse that privilege. Looking at colleges for aspiring talent, I have noticed a considerable lowering of standards, Camberwell included, in recent years.

It should not be beyond those who are responsible at our beleaguered colleges to realise that they are selling their students short, and that by addressing the problem of the emperor’s clothes, they might find a way of producing talent that, to use a dirty word, may be successful.

Allan Manham

The Artworks

London SW6

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