Natural History Illustration seen in context: Published work January 3rd 2014

Story posted: Friday, 3. January 2014 by Lizzie Harper

Most of the natural history illustrations I do are for use in published form; either in books or magazines; on interpretation or visitor boards at zoos, nature reserves or aquariums; or for packaging of such diverse things as CDs and mugs.  It's always a treat to see the illustrations in context, and helps make more sense of them.  Here are some examples.

Postage stamps series (Roses) illustrated for Jersey Post by Lizzie Harper. Copyright Jersey Post 2010

First up; stamps.  These sets are done for Jersey Post.  It's tricky designing stamps as you have to be responsible for the layout of the text, price, and queen's head as well as for the illustrations themselves.

Lizzie Harper Jersey Post first day cover; copyright Jersey Post

The excitement of seeing your pictures on real stamps, with the post mark on, takes some beating.  I know I shouldn't still get a thrill from these things, but the idea of my little dragonflies zipping all around the world on letters makes me very happy.

Artwork done for magazine articles is another example when the finished product often makes far more sense than the lone illustration.  For example, below is an illustration of soneone "candling" an egg, to see if the duck embryo inside is viable.

Candling a duck egg; natural history illustration by Lizzie Harper

And here it is in context; in Waterlife Magazine (the magazine of The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust), along with the other illustrations for the article, and the text.  Far less peculiar.

Lizzie Harper illustrations for Waterlife Magazine April June 2013

Gridline Magazine, produced by the National Grid for its stakeholders, land owners and partners; commissioned me to do a series of three sketchbook style illustrations for it's summer 2013 issueThe article related to controlling invasive weeds in water-courses.  While each illustration had some merit in its own right, when put into context in the article it vastly improved them.

Gridline Magazine Illustrations by Lizzie Harper

Gridline Magazine Illustrations by Lizzie Harper

As an illustrator, seeing your work reproduced is satisfying, and a good way of making sure you're on your mettle and still producing a product which is fit for purpose.

Commissioning illustration must be hard; so much work now only appears in (flattering) digital format online, and to tell the truth it's only when you see illustrations reproduced in print, in the context that they're intended for, that you can tell the true quality of the illustrator.

This is one reason why I urge any commissioning client, or aspiring illustrator to consult (or advertise in) printed annuals of illustrations.  There are many out there (and most also present their artists' work online as well); some of the best are Contact, AOI Images, and (for USA markets) the Medical Illustration Sourcebook.


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Friday, 3. January 2014, 08:31:58 – Simon Leather:

Really fascinating and your illustrations are superb - I wish I could draw even a quarter as well as you can.