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Inspiration in Illustration

People always ask me who my favourite photographers are and I often respond with a list of painters instead. It's a strange concept to me that photographers may only be inspired by photography.

Some of the artists that have been tickling my fancy lately are fantasy artists, primarily illustration artists working in digital programs. These artists, like I, employ a stylus pen as their paintbrush and redefine the contemporary painted portrait. Where we differ is in our approach to reality.

I’m interested in combining photography and illustration to enhance the reality of an image with fantasy components that blur the lines of reality and fantasy. My subjects are usually based on reality. These artists use fantasy as their subject and this allows a different kind of expression because we accept that when reality releases its grasp on fantasy, the rules of reality no longer apply.

Ray Caesar

Sweet Victory - Ray Caesar 2006
Sweet Victory - Ray Caesar 2006

Ray Caesar is an English born 3D artist working in a digital program called Maya producing dreamlike imagery that may look like traditional paintings but in fact use pixels as paint.

Caesar spent 17 years working in the art department hospital documenting sick children through their medical and psychological treatments. Caesar sites this background as being the foundation for the subjects of his art explaining:

“I often awake in the middle of the night and realise I have been wondering the hallways and corridors of the giant hospital. It is clear to me that this is the birthplace of all of my imagery”

Caesar's surreal and haunting portraits of children and animals are emotional and disturbing whilst alluring and beautiful and continue to push the envelope of what is considered art in the contemporary world.

Anna Platten

The Journey - Anna Platten 2008
The Journey - Anna Platten 2008

Anna Platten is an Australian painter working in oils and charcoals in the traditional sense. I discovered Platten in Adelaide earlier this year as we both gave artist talks together at Samstag Museum for our shows 'Phantasia' and 'Colliding Worlds'.

Platten considers the themes and motivation of her work to be the same in her adult life to her childhood. The artist explains:

“As I imagine for most children, drawing was for me a means of tangibly exploring, possessing and controlling the world around me”

Producing artworks rich with symbols and narrative, Platten's staged fantasy works are typically themed as self-portraits. Her attention to detail is reminiscent of a painting style almost lost in contemporary times that transports audiences back in time to painting movements that focused on producing work with such details that they appear almost photo real.

Linda Bergkvist

Don't wisper into the wind - Linda Bergkvist 2003
Don't wisper into the wind - Linda Bergkvist 2003

Linda Bergkvist is a Swedish illustrator and digital fantasy artist. Working in Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter, Bergkvist focuses on producing fairytale artworks with believable figures.

A highlight in Bergkvist's career was working as a conceptual artist on the film Golden Compass. The artist also produces books and merchandise of her digital paintings and is at the forefront of online tutorials and forums. Bergkvist described her style and tastes:

“I love the visual element of fairytales. Things that are fantastic and unnatural and not quite real fascinate me to no end. I suppose I am in love with old, cruel tales and the wickedness that comes wrapped up in lovely forms”

Maggie Taylor

The Herald - Maggie Taylor 2006
The Herald - Maggie Taylor 2006

Maggie Taylor is an American artist who produces digital imagery by scanning photographs in a flatbed scanner and layering them in Adobe Photoshop to produce narrative based fantasy works of art.

Taylor's work has featured in Adobe Photoshop's Master Class and she has produced a series of fantasy books including my favourite, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Taylor's work is described as surrealistic montage and is void of many of the constraints of reality and photorealism, the artist opting instead, for a painterly and textured quality. Taylor's charm lies in her approach, her awkward compositions and mythical characters transport our imaginations back to our childhood where scribbling outside the lines was part of our magic.