As an illustrator I am attracted to the visual first and the context second. I’m a illustration fan, I love to spot work and recognise who created it, but I have the advantage of looking at illustrations every day, so it’s easier for me to work it out. When I see a cover reveal, an amazing poster or a picture book with a celebrity name on, the first thing I want to know is who drew it. My heart sinks if the illustrators name isn’t included, tagged or credited.
For a while I followed the #picturesmeanbusiness campaign, muttering to myself every time someone had to call out on twitter - who’s the illustrator, did they write and illustrate it themselves, isn’t that the work of... ?
The campaign started in 2015, when Sarah McIntyre and James Mayhew created the hashtag for raising the profile of illustration and getting illustrators credited for their work. Last year, Sarah Macintyre put a call out for help with the campaign, my first reaction was “Great campaign, but what can I do?”
But after some thought, I realised the issue bugged me so much, I decided to just offer whatever I can.
Sarah welcomed me aboard and pointed me to a huge archive of articles and resources that she had been publishing on her blog. There was so much information there, something for almost anyone do something proactive about the issue, I decided to use it as a basis for a new website: http://www.picturesmeanbusiness.com. The team grew again, when comic artist and member of the Society of Authors Management Committee, Woodrow Pheonix came on board as well.
And, In fact, everyone I’ve spoken to about #PicturesMeanBusiness has been supportive. Some can’t believe in this age of technology and data that missing credit could still be an issue. Others have said that it was only when it was pointed out to them they realised the impact illustration actually has, and how much poorer some books would be without it. When you think of Roald Dahl’s ‘BFG’ do you see Quentin Blake’s illustrations? When ‘The Gruffalo’ was recently announced being realised as a limited edition 50p, was it Julia Donaldson’s story or Axel Scheffler’s illustration that was featured?
The creative industry in the Uk alone is worth £101.5 Billion (according to gov.uk).
I can’t find figures that breaks this down to the contribution illustrators make, but I do know that I am not alone in the belief illustration deserves being taken seriously as a professional industry. British Council, together with Lauren Child, the current Children’s Laureate, put together the exhibition “Drawing Words” recognising the contribution illustration makes to all ages. The exhibition is to tour other countries demonstrating our illustration as a valuable export.
And while I may have a vested interest, I’m proud to have volunteered to help with #PicturesMeanBusiness, as I know the real benefits reach far beyond my little studio. If you are interested in finding out more - take a look here: http://www.picturesmeanbusiness.com/the-benefits/