These are pretty cool. I love finding a new artist I didn’t previously know about. While searching for a newer Beer Advocate logo to use for Todd’s birthday post (see below), I happened upon this painting by Robert Carter. It’s called Beer Advocate and features their old logo on the woman’s shirt. She’s in black and white but the beer and the patriotic background are in bright colors. Looking at other works by Carter, this effect seems to me one he often employs. I don’t know who Robert Carter is but Thumbtack Press has a dozen of his works online for sale, and for $30 you can buy an 11″ x 13.75″ print of Beer Advocate.
According to Wikipedia, he’s a Canadian illustrator living in Ontario. He also has more of his work at his own Cracked Hat website. He’s also done other beer-themed illustrations, including at least one more for Beer Advocate. That one, entitled Beer – A Beacon of Light in the Dark Ages, is below.
If you’re wondering what the difference is between a fine artist and an illustrator, there’s really not much. There are art snobs who look down on “illustration” as an inferior type of art, but they’re elitist idiots. The only real difference between the two is purpose. Art can exist solely for its own sake, for aesthetic reasons. You’ve probably heard the phrase “art for art’s sake.” Illustration, on the other hand, is made specifically to illustrate something else, whether text from a book, and advertisement, or whatever. In it’s earliest meaning, it meant to illuminate or was used to create enlightenment. The definition of what makes something “art” is, of course, somewhat tricky. You’ll likely get as many answers as the number of people you ask. But there’s a nice, workable explanation of the two in How to Grow as an Illustrator by Michael Fleishman.
“Art just is,” Bob Selby [illustrator and teacher] states unequivocally. “A sculpture is. A painting is. There can be no question that these things exist as works of art. Without getting into further qualitative judgment, a work of art is a work of art — it is not a truck or a loaf of bread — it is art.”
Illustration, on the other hand, does not require any such philosophical decisions. An illustration must recognize one certain requirement: Something must be in the condition of illustrating; it is being used to shed light. “There is action,” Shelby says. “In order to have illustration, something must be acting upon something else. Tthere’s no more to it than that, really.”
Still with us here? Ultimately, this act of shedding light that we call “illustration” is a process Selby calls “symbolization.” We are enlightened — that is, we can know something — because illustrations function symbolically to shed light on something else,” Selby explains. “Drawings, for instance, can be tailored precisely to symbolize and, thereby, to highlight, clarify, amplify, complement, or explain something else.”
Many famous artists either began their careers as illustrators or did both types of work simultaneously, like Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper. Personally, I’m a huge fan of great illustration. Some of my favorite books as a kid had amazing illustrations by Arthur Rackham, Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth. As a comic book geek (I used to manage a comic book shop) I tend to think graphically and in a sense comic books represent the purest form of illustration. When books were handmade they were illuminated with amazing doodles and other artwork. These early books are considered priceless. It was only technology that made text king and relegated illustration to children’s works. When the printing press exploded publishing graphics were not able to be included. Even once the technology was developed, it was prohibitively expensive and was used only sparingly. In effect, the technology has caught up in recent decades but the bias persists that serious works do not include illustrations. I think that’s complete nonsense, but, as usual, I’m in the minority here. I don’t now how anyone can read Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale or the Neil Gaiman series Sandman and continue to hold that prejudice, but people I’ve found have a hard time letting go of their cherished beliefs even in the fact of contrary evidence. Anyway, I’ll climb down off my soapbox.
Another beer-themed illustration Robert Carter did is a portrait of Eric Molson for the magazine Canadian Business.
Robert Carter is an award winning Illustrator. Born in St. Albans England he moved to Ontario Canada at an early age. He graduated from Sheridan College School of Art and Design in 2002. Robert combines a strong foundation in portraiture with a unique sense of visual and conceptual problem solving to create striking, vibrant and textured illustrations and portraits with subjects ranging from realistic to the surreal.
There’s not much else about Carter out there, though there is a nice interview online at Design Inspiration, a website for professional and aspiring illustrators.