9 June 2012

Prapim's Inspirations: William A. Smith

I really need to do these posts more often.

Today's inspiration: William A. Smith

I should perhaps stop putting up so many American illustrators from the 1930s-50s, since I've had some comments from tutors saying my influences should be more 'contemporary' and 'modern', etc. I suppose as a consequence my work tends to look quite period (i.e. 'dated'). Sniffle. Not good for my future career.

Dreadful note aside, artists like William A. Smith kind of make me regret not having studied Illustration in America. I suppose what I really like about illustrators like Leyendecker, Fawcett and Smith (of whom the latter two were contemporaries) are that their works are, to put it simply, beautiful.

I've never really been very hung up on 'conceptually strong' and 'clever' art; I simply like things because they are beautiful, and/or entertain me. I love illustrators that can create rich environments in which I can imagine a whole, other, alternate world: I like to imagine how the characters live and interact with each other and their colourful world, in the process telling a rich story.

Oh, I know that sounds super-cheesy, but what is more sincere than the truth, right? Maybe that makes me sound a little stupid and a lot of a sap. Haha. I should start talking about Smith and less about myself.

William Arthur Smith was (1918-89) born in Toledo, Ohio. There's a bunch of stuff on Wikipedia about how he received loads of awards and things, but how I discovered him is still what I love of his works the most: his observational sketches.

It seems he was sent to China for a period of time during WWII to do commissioned drawings; I suppose he must have done some propaganda type illustrations, but his observational sketches from this period are quite timeless. 

Smith had quite a strong eye for interesting people and situations, and I love the little quirky notes peppered along with his sketches. It really adds a sense of personality to the drawings.

There's something very pure and human about how they are pictures of soldiers in their off-time, of children, doing very normal things; there's no sense of agenda.

Of course, that isn't to say his paintings aren't amazing, either:

(I suppose I also like how he 'marries' Asian-style imagery into his work; the blend really is quite vibrant)

Now I just feel inadequate. Sigh.

6 June 2012


So some of us fellow CSM illustrators decided to create a zine especially for the upcoming Degree Show (should I be capitalizing that?). It's based on the theme, 'First Day', though some of us have interpreted it as 'First Time' as well.

I wracked my head for a while. At first, I wanted to do 'the first time I saw my mother cry' (I was young and can still remember the utter, sinking feeling of horror; there is nothing more terrible than seeing one's mother cry), but then I remembered this one particular incident.

It's all true - except for the fact that actually, I fought off his best friend too, after he got tired of fighting me. Haha! That was the day I learned that:

1. Violence can sometimes be the answer;
2. That sometimes, you have to learn how to fish instead of letting others catch it for you;
3. And that my mother gives the best advice ever, except when she doesn't.

In belated celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, I present to you a practice sketch (man, I have not touched acrylic inks in such a long time, and those white streaks are actually nail polish because my white acrylic ink looks a disgusting murky grey, um, anyway), of JC Leyendecker's own handsome soldier!