RESEARCH TASK 3.2: REPORTING AND DOCUMENTING

REPORTAGE:

Before looking at the articles via the links provided, I read about the topic of “Reportage Illustrators” in the book, “Basics Illustration, Thinking Visually for Illustrators” by Mark Wigan, “In the nineteenth century, reportage illustrators were known as ‘special artists’. These travelling documenters recorded all kinds of news topics and events, from wars to famous travel expeditions, providing eye witness observations and analysis. “ In those times before the use of photography, having Reportage Illustrators must have been vital in the process of the documentation of important or newsworthy events. Back then, a Reportage Illustrators’ perspective could have potentially influenced a lot of people, as it might have been seen as a truthful representation of an event. Before the use of photography and social media, Reportage Illustrators potentially had a lot of power in influencing peoples’ understanding of the details of an event.

When looking at the topic of, “Reportage” in the book, “Sketch your world, Essential techniques for drawing on location” by James Hobbs, I found the following quote to be very true: “While it may seem that photography is the natural way to cover news events, someone aimed with a sketchbook and pen can see and record events with a depth beyond that captured by the click of a digital shutter. Drawings take time, can be selective in what they include, and also allow the artist’s feelings to shine through.” Reportage illustrators are in the position to create illustrations which documents an event and communicates a message as experienced from their perspective, visually. They are in the position to choose what they would like to include or exclude from an illustration and could possibly provide a more effective representation of emotions involved.

I also read that, “Reportage gets under the skin of a situation, whether it is on the streets with a demonstration, reveling social injustice or tracking someone in their working role. Spending time and reflecting on the subject you are exploring lets your drawings go beyond a snatched image of a single moment, to become part of an unfolding narrative.” I agree that the use of reportage illustrations is more effective in capturing the atmosphere and energy of a moment/ event, than taking a quick photograph of it. With the use of reportage illustrations the illustrator decides what to focus on in order to convey the necessary message or to have the desired effect on the viewer. Thus, “Exploring a theme through a series of drawings or paintings allows you to get under the skin of a subject or situation and make works that can carry a powerful message.”

RESEARCH:

I read the article: “Ardizzone at peace and in conflict” via the following link:

http://eyemagazine.com/feature/article/ardizzone-at-peace-and-in-conflict

According to the article, “Experiences as a war artist gave an extra depth and toughness” to the work of Ardizzone. I agree with the following that in order for people to become Reportage Illustrators, “the pace of production and the unfamiliar subject matter was both a challenge and a stimulus.”. They must be very brave and have a genuine passion for the form of art in order to risk and sacrifice so much.

As the perspective of the Reportage illustrator largely influences the manner in which an event is documented and the message is conveyed, Ardizzone probably did not always accurately portray a war situation and therefore received the following response, even though, “He saw plenty of dead bodies”, “when he drew, critics sometimes complained that he was taking the war too lightly.” In contrast with the criticism he received at times it said that, “Ardizzone’s strength was in capturing moments of human action, often slightly comical ones.” It is interesting that what was seen by some as his weakness of not portraying the war scenes realistically and truthfully, was seen by others as his strength by portraying some scenes in a slightly more comical manner.

According to the article, Ardizzone’s style of reportage illustration developed due to advice from Bawden, who “urged him to take the landscape as his subject rather than the sometimes conventionally posed figure groups.” Which presented a more natural and realistic representation of events. “The Sweetness and nostalgia characteristic of Ardizzone’s work was toughened by a backbone experience and keen observation” after all his experience as Reportage Illustrator during the war. As time went on Ardizzone’s “way of composing a scene as a theatre stage were being challenged.”

I read the article: “Oliver Kugler: Bearing Witness” via the following link:

http://eyemagazine.com/feature/article/olivier-kugler-bearing-witness

According to the article, Kugler is a contemporary illustrator who, “uses his ears and eyes- plus a camera, digital voice recorder, sketchbook, pencil, scanner and laptop to document stories of exile, displacement and the complex reality of refugees’ lives.” And that he is the, “contemporary face of reportage illustration; the art of going to a place where there’s a news story, looking hard, asking questions and coming back with the drawings.”

I think that comparing to Ardizzone’s style of Reportage Illustration, Kugler’s method is more holistic as he takes the time to investigate a topic using various techniques and tools in order to gain a more objective and informed perspective about the event/ topic.

When thinking about the emotional journeys and experiences of the people Kugler interviewed and documented, you can understand that they sometimes, “cannot spare the time to sit and pose” and “their story tumbles out before they have to move on.” And therefore the, “Camera will pick up details and perspectives that would take too long to capture if he sat down and drew the scene.” Although he creates the illustrations at home instead of on location, he still does all the necessary research in order to be able to deliver a comprehensive documentation of an event/ situation. Therefore he is able is able to create illustrations which, “tell the stories of the portrayed people authentically and with dignity” in order to create a, “Compelling narrative that will affect the reader in the way” his “experiences of meeting these people has affected” him.

Kugler’s reportage illustrations have a very distinctive style using lots of handwritten notes which creates a simplistic, yet striking effect. His “inclusion of multiple marks for the subjects movements” adds to his distinctive style of Reportage Illustration.

The following ‘Sidebar: The reporter as “special artist’ describes the ‘special artist’ as having to have had ‘the intuition of a journalist for knowing what to draw; and also to know by instinct or design when to be where.” As described by Paul Hogarth in ‘The Artist as Reporter’ (1967). I agree with Paul’s description of a Reportage Illustrator, as they operate in the same way as a journalist, but instead of reporting back in writing or using video recordings, they document an event/ story using illustrations to visually communicate a message/ narrative.

I read the article, “Framing the evidence of war” via the following link:

http://eyemagazine.com/opinion/article/framing-the-evidence-of-war

According to this article, they use a different method of Reportage Illustration by collaborating with a variety of people with specific skills, for example: photo journalism, photography, graphic design and graphic novelist. The 3-way collaboration is able to catch incidents, “on camera to be presented sequentially from multiple perspectives, building a much fuller sense of a scene than would ordinarily be possible”, thus creating a more continuous narrative. The article focuses on the following collaborators: Photographer, Didier Lefeure; Graphic Novelist, Emmanuel Guibert; and Graphic Designer, Frederic Lemercier.

REFLECTION:

When I started working overseas and travelling to interesting places in my early 20’s, I started thinking about how I’d perhaps like to do something more meaningful, like charity work somewhere in Africa. Throughout the years, I have seen some very memorable photographs taken of people in need in remote areas suffering from war, poverty or other factors. At one point I also considered studying journalism as I was fascinated by journalists’ and photographers’ journey in documenting peoples’ experiences while working with non-profit organisations or in war zones.

Although I knew it would be a frightening experience, I thought it would be fascinating capturing these moments, in order to spread awareness and to be able to speak up for people who can’t speak up for themselves. I guess I was quite naive when I was in my early 20’s, unaware of the reality of what I was considering. Although I never got round to doing any of that and it was probably never meant to be on my path, I still find the thought of it fascinating. Such brave individuals who enter those areas and sacrifice their ‘normal’ lives in order to document events otherwise not seen by the general public.

All those years, I never even considered Reportage Illustrators covering similar stories or events. These Reportage Illustrators who entered war zones must have been extremely brave, working under such terrifying circumstances. Photographers can capture an image with the ‘click’ of a button, but Reportage Illustrators have to move around with a sketchbook and would possibly take a lot longer to capture a moment than when using a camera. I guess one would need to have a real passion for it in order to risk your life in a danger zone like that, using only a sketchbook as tool. Although I thought of being a journalist or photographer in those situations, I don’t think I would’ve been brave enough (or had the necessary skills) to move around with only a sketchbook and to work at such a fast pace.

By reading these 3 articles, I have gained a better understanding of the many diverse ways in which Reportage Illustrators/ artists go about documenting their stories/ events. They all have their own unique style and methods which they use to go about documenting events. Reportage Illustrators are very brave and some find themselves in danger/ war zones or other risky situations in order to document sensitive topics in their own unique way, from their perspective to visually communicate a message or narrative.

Personally, I think I would function better as a Reportage Illustrator when following the example of methods of documentation used by Kugler. I also prefer to research a place/ event using photographs/ recording video’s/ experiencing something, and then creating the visual representation of it in the comfort of my own home.

OTHER REPORTAGE ILLUSTRATORS:

Additionally, I had a look at these Reportage Illustrators via the following links:

– George Butler:

http://www.georgebutler.org/

– Laura Carlin:

http://www.lauracarlin.com/editorial/y143k3m5pm61yhqxo54n6yfbimmr8k

– Paul Hogarth:

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/paul-hogarth-1299

– David Gentleman:

http://www.davidgentleman.com/swipecategory.php?cat=3

– Lucinda Rogers:

http://www.lucindarogers.co.uk/drawings.php

– Louis Netter:

http://www.louisnetter.com/reportage

– Chloe Regan:

https://chloeregan.com/Sketchbooks

NAME: Juanita du Toit

STUDENT NUMBER: 522438

COURSE: Illustration 1: Illustration Sketchbooks

The Open College of the Arts (University for the Creative Arts)

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