When illustrators collaborate

Illustration Next is what happened when 50 leading illustrators were rounded up, thrown together in pairs and asked to respond to a brief.

Josephin Ritschel responds to the theme Excess
Josephin Ritschel responds to the theme Excess

It also showcases individual work, but the main events are the results of these collaborations, which have been brilliantly unpredictable.

Each illustrator is interviewed by author Ana Benaroya – herself an illustrator – about their inspiration and motivation.

Josephin Ritschel responds to the theme Excess
Josephin Ritschel responds to the theme Excess

Then themes like Mind, Body, Death, Party, Gluttony and Fire are fed to the unsuspecting pairs who have sometimes worked face-to-face but often over distance by email.

Whitney Sherman and Josephin Ritschel have looked at Excess, which to them has come to mean a menagerie of stuffed animals harboured by a lonely aristocrat, a body building egotist, a painted lady, and a collector.

Whitney Sherman responds to the theme Excess with the idea of collecting
Whitney Sherman responds to the theme Excess with the idea of collecting

Ritschel says, ‘We decided to mix our two ideas, so we had two variations on the theme and each of us replied to the other’s first drawing.’

Whitney Sherman responds to the theme Excess
Whitney Sherman responds to the theme Excess

Sophie Hollington and Kyle Platts both spoke about how much they enjoyed the collaborative process and after meeting up over a milkshake to decide how they were to respond to the theme Lost, they went with a comic strip of two tragic characters who sadly never find each other.

Sophy Hollington and Kyle Platts respond to Lost
Sophy Hollington and Kyle Platts respond to Lost

Orit Bergman and Yosuke Yamaguchi were given the theme Born, and they chose to make one response together and one independently.

While both have an ethereal, dreamy quality to their work, their styles are markedly different.

Sophy Hollington and Kyle Platts respond to Lost
Sophy Hollington and Kyle Platts respond to Lost

Bergman says, ‘Illustration doesn’t offer many occasions for collaborating and this is one of the few things I don’t like about my job.

‘I had lots of fun working with Yos, his technique and his ideas are very different from mine – he brought to the image stories from Japanese culture, a sense of mystery and terrific colours.’

Sophy Hollington and Kyle Platts respond to Lost
Sophy Hollington and Kyle Platts respond to Lost

Collaboration isn’t for everyone though particularly Mu Pan and Cecil Smith who responded to Body, and worked at arms length after some initial discussion.

So, two brilliant but very different responses including what appears to be an attack dog with a tiger-shaped penis drawn by Mu Pan. Not for the faint of heart, this one.

Sophy Hollington and Kyle Platts respond to Lost
Sophy Hollington and Kyle Platts respond to Lost

For the accompanying interview Benaroya asks Pan ‘Did you learn something about yourself’ and he replies, ‘No’. Well, there we go then.

Illustration Next is published on 27 August by Thames and Hudson, priced £19.95

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