R. O. Blechman on illustration

“Part of the illustrator’s problem is that he is considered a commercial artist, not a fine artist. (And done ‘fine’ imply that the illustrator’s art is not ‘fine?’). The assumption is that whoever works on commission does not work from inspiration — as if money and integrity, fame and fortune, were incompatible. The pure and impure can exist quite nicely, thank you, as long as the work does not suffer. The worst people — the most mercenary, the most ego-driven — can be the best artist. You might not want to invite some illustrators into your home, but they’re more than welcome on your bookshelf or magazine rack. In the final analysis, it’s not money that corrupts, but the willingness to do bad work. Money just goes to the bank. That’s a private matter. That’s what the depositor and bank teller see.

What counts is what goes on the page — or these days, the screen. That’s what we, the great public, get to see. Nothing else.

It doesn’t help illustrators that their work is by nature transient — work meant for the printed page and by its very nature, ephemeral; good for a glance or two before a text is read and a page is turned. At least books have a shelf life, and ‘fine art’ enjoys the prospect of a longer life on the wall of a gallery, museum, or home. No so illustration. It is art meant for temporary viewing, as fleeting as the paper on which it is printed.”

— R. O. Blechman on illustration