Illustration Friday posted an interview with Tim O’ Brien worth readying.  Here is an excerpt:

It has been a long time since people started talking about “photography replacing illustration” but you seem to be busier than ever! We are all fascinated by your work that they are more real than what photos can capture; George W. Bush tearing up in regret, Beethoven as a contemporary young man, Obama as Superman, and numerous TIME covers you have created… How do you define yourself in the contemporary editorial market? Do you sometimes feel that your competitors are photographers rather than other illustrators?

Realism was certainly the only game in town for most of the age of print so far.  Thankfully that changed over the past 30 years and now you can see all kinds of amazing and thoughtful illustration everywhere.  I am a rarity among editorial illustrators, a realist.  There are a few reasons why an art director might choose me to do an illustration or a cover.  First, realism has the power to connect to the masses in a way that a more unique style might not.  If I do a cover for a magazine it fits into the flow that the viewer is used to.  Many photos are used, this is true, so my work is not a jarring surprise.  Another reason an AD might choose me is I can take imperfect reference and create a perfect portrait.  I understand textures, color, anatomy and color enough to improve upon a bad photo.  Still another reason I’m used might be that the paintings have a power and a beauty or can convey a concept which might not be available in photography. Finally, I’m pretty fast.

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I love how he briefly explains the way that realism communicates in a natural way to the viewer.  They don’t get enchanted or mystified by the technique, and so the illustrator can do more poetic work with the subject matter to communicate the message.  Anyway, the whole article is good, and O’Brien’s blog showcases his technique.  I am going to try a couple of things based on what I read.  Good stuff!

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