Editorial Illustration

The first part of this exercise was to analyse newspaper editorial illustration.  The images I analysed were all from the Guardian on Saturday 11th May 2019

Generosity in Politics.  Written by Gary Younge. Illustrated by Thomas Pullin

This  conceptual illustration relates to the text in that it shows legs rushing around individually without concern or awareness of each other.  The legs are large which connects to the idea that people with a lack of generosity shout loudest and like to make their opinions known. This extends the meaning and content of the text.  In the centre of the illustration is a person offering a chair to the hoards rushing by. This person represents those who do not fall into a ‘right’ or ‘left’ camp and who choose silence. They have an opinion but choose to attempt to create peace and offer generosity by keeping out of the argument. The person is visually tiny in comparison with the legs which extends the meaning through visual metaphor representing the concept that the minority appears to be those of a charitable nature.  These people are seen as small and insignificant in a world of selfishness and ego.

The colours used are interesting .  The legs are blue suggesting right wing conservative self reliance and profit making.  The figure wears a yellow top, the traditional colour of the liberals. His shoes are red and he offers a red chair.  This could be a suggestion that the way to find generosity in politics is through cross party collaboration. A union between Labour and the Liberal Democrats perhaps…

Alan Male describes the best editorial illustration as being, ‘ thought provoking and contentious. Normally couched within the journalistic remit of political, economic and social commentary, it challenges both popular and alternative opinion; it obfuscates and presents arguments; it poses questions and leaves them unanswered; it makes provocative statements.’ Male, A. (2007) . This illustration does all of these things.

Great English Football.  Written by Barney Ronay. Illustration by Lo Cole.  

How English is English football?  This is a conceptual illustration using visual metaphor.  The image shows an English knight dressed in chain mail and vest adorned with the St George’s cross.  This symbolises the history and tradition of English football. The knight has a football stuck in his mouth.  The significance of this is that with foreign players, managers and owners in the English game, can we really say that English football is great? This illustration relates to the text and meaning and adds a comical element.  

Make a Friend of your Anger.  Written by David Woolfson. Illustration by Leon Edler.  

This article is about anger being a natural human emotion that we can’t get rid of, but can learn from it.   It then gives tips on how to make anger your friend. It features a conceptual illustration of a man with a heart and arrow  tattoo in the style of a traditional ‘mum’ tattoo, but with ‘mum’ replaced with the word ‘anger’. This mirrors the meaning of the text in that tattoos usually symbolise something or someone people love and want to remember or keep close to them.  


Mediocre man?  Then you’re probably leadership material.  Written by Oliver Burkeman. Illustrator not referenced.  

The misguided idea that over confidence and self absorption are qualities for effective leadership means many incompetent men are in leadership roles.  This is a conceptual illustration showing a group of faceless men. The lack of faces could symbolise mediocre, as could the similarity between all of them; they all have the same shaped faces and wear the same colour clothes.  However one of the men from the middle of the pack has a speech bubble containing an ellipsis. This relates to the main idea in the text in that an ellipsis is used in place of superfluous words. People who talk less about their own capabilities,  are more emotionally intelligent, calmer and more resilient make more effective leaders. Not the narcissistic man in an arrogant pose depicted at the front.


All of the illustrations I found in the newspaper and supplement were conceptual and use visual metaphor.  

My brief for this exercise was to create an illustration providing a visual interpretation of a heading chosen from a list. I chose - How green is your food? I searched the internet to find some text that suited this heading on which to base my illustration and found one that suited perfectly. I read through and highlighted the key messages and made a list of them.

I then did a visual brainstorm which I used to make a list of potential ideas.

I believe the heading I chose didn’t require the illustration to be contentious, however in order to deliver the messages in the article, it did need to offer opinion. I didn’t want the illustration to just decorate the text, I wanted it to add further comment so I chose to take a conceptual approach. However I found it difficult to cover all of the messages in the article without creating a narrative illustration. When I was generating the ideas, I felt like I was squeezing elements into an idea and losing the potential visual impact. In the end I chose an idea that covered the messages I thought most important; buying local; cooking fresh and eating more fruit and vegetables. Below shows my process from thumbnailing through to visual. I started by trying the rider of the bike in different positions, eventually deciding that a side view would best portray the content. During this process the baskets full of vegetables got larger because I really wanted to emphasise that element of it.

The image I created did communicate the messages but wasn’t conceptual so I thought about how I could make it more so when creating the actual artwork. With the heading being ‘How green is your food?’ it made sense to colour the whole illustration in green. Alongside working on this exercise I had been experimenting with techniques in a different sketchbook playing about with the idea of creating shape and space by drawing outlines. I explored and adopted this technique for this illustration.

I thought having a clean, but blurry soft outline would give the content a green glow which would really emphasise the message and thought wax pastels would be a good medium to create this effect. I tried out different shades of green on a visual then created the final artwork.

I think the illustration delivers the key messages from the article and offers opinion. The inclusion of the bike adds more meaning because it highlights the shop local message and also promotes a general healthy lifestyle. Although slightly narrative, I think the oversized baskets of fruit and vegetables that also actually form their shape, the green ‘glow’ and the colour being used only on the outlines make it slightly conceptual too.