Illustration Vs. Fine Art
By: Robert Sebik

Drawing, illustration, sketch. All are a form of creating art. It falls in the definition of art. I myself define art as a craft that takes work to put an expression into a medium. Even if the mediums are paper and pencil. But there is however a fine line between art and fine art. Fine art is what you see put in the museums. It’s what sells to collectors for millions of dollars. But illustrations are not considered to be a part of this field of art. Sometimes it’s not even considered to be true art. This is seen by many as wrong. And they’re right. It is not fair. Illustrations should be considered just as much of an art form as any other.

As an illustrator myself I have done conceptual sketches and drawings that are not elegant paintings or complex sculptures. But does that truly mean that it cannot be fine art. What defines something to be fine art? Is it because the art of an illustrator is sold to companies for what would be considered a drop in the bucket compared to an old painting from some dead guy? Is it because the art of an illustrator is used on a wide scale and is almost claimed no ownership to the artist who created it. It is then seen everywhere. Many of what we consider to be illustrative art today seen in the business sector has no name to it. You do not know who created the piece. Is this a factor in why it’s not considered fine art? The death of the author, the undesired attribution, as it were.

Why would someone want a piece of art whose purpose is to be commercially produced and has no author tied to it to be included in the world of fine art? Well why not? Many of what we consider to be fine art today is only fine art because of the name tied to it. Van Gogh only sold one painting during his life and died a poor man. Today his paintings sell for fortunes. But why? Is it because he’s dead? Does the true value of an artist’s work only show through once they’re dead? But then that would exclude artists like Pollock and Warhol. Whose art sold for fortunes of money even while they were alive? And frankly their work is not much better or sometimes any less mass produced than an illustrator’s drawing or sketch. Especially since Pollock and Warhol are sucked into the world of Kitsch art. Something that is considered low class. Yet original works are worth a fortune and are considered fine art.

With this in mind it is truly not fair to consider illustrations to not be art. And it really makes no sense. I like to think that what I make is art. Even fine art. It can express my feelings or existential sentiment as any piece of modern art today. Yet you can actually tell what those feelings and existential sentiment actually art. If you want a window into an artist’s true soul then take a look at what they sketch and doodle instead of creating elaborate paintings and massive constructed pieces. Many would argue that art is in the eye of the beholder. What one sees as art another might not. Yet we have apparently institutions around to tell us what we should consider to be art and illustrations are not allowed in that definition. Illustration is not a degree offered at my university (MSU Denver) or many other universities, much to my dismay. This is something that we need to drastically change in lieu of the popularity and demand for illustrations.

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