The area of illustration and art has often been associated with each other and the debate has been going on for years, if not decades. This is mainly because illustration has always been seen as a part of art while modern and more contemporary methods view it as being a discipline by itself. In many ways, there are clear distinction between the two and the easy way to view one from another is that art encompasses a large area of body of work while illustration is more to tell a story or an idea.
Under most circumstances, art is very much the finished story in which the artist would have completed the process of conveying the message. On the other hand, illustration is more about the starting point of what the finished art work would be. This could be in terms of a drawing, a sketch, a storyboard or along those lines.
In today’s art industry, illustration has taken a new turn and a new breath of life. This is mainly because contemporary art has become more demanding and extended through new and more innovative means. In some cases, illustrations could be seen along artworks of digital art and even comic art which have become very much mainstream in recent years which include the artwork Huminodun from the Kinabalu series from Yee I-Lann which sold for RM117,000 at a Christie’s auction held in Hong Kong.
Some scholars have coined the difference between illustration and art in terms of payment. Where this is concerned, it is opined that art would be a means of making a decent and perhaps luxurious living for the artist. From the early civilisations and kingdoms where artists are paid a handsome sum for painting portraits and such, this payment method would continue to the present environment in which artists do make quite a sizable income by selling their artworks.
On the other hand, illustration artists are more paid in terms of a fixed income and to a certain extent could be seen as a profession of some sort. This is where graphic designers and illustrators come into play in which they are employed by design houses to work on projects and on-going businesses. The scenario is made more possible and interesting with the rising demand for comic artists and businesses which are in these sectors.
Another way to distinguish illustration and art is in the way they are exhibited. Art in most if not all ways are exhibited at galleries and art spaces while illustration art use other means, usually not within the way art do.
Malaysian artists and illustrators
It would be convenient to refer to illustrators are cartoonists although that would not be entirely accurate. However, it must be noted that illustrators and cartoonists do come together hand-in-hand. This means that the most prominent illustrators in Malaysia would be renowned cartoonists like Datuk Lat, Ujang, Zunar while cartoon publications like Gila-Gila has become quite a de facto standard in Malaysia as one of the most prominent magazines in Malaysia.
However, it must also be noted that there has also been prominent artists like Jaafar Taib and others are also known to be quite remarkable illustrators in their own respective careers. Other Malaysian illustrators have also been working on their own respective body of works in recent years and this could be seen in the remarkable works that have been produced over the last few years both within the local and international art world.
One such artist is Aadi Salman or more fondly known as Adijin whose digital art work and experience are seen as one of the best in this sector both locally and internationally. He has produced works for Silent Hill: Dying Inside under IDW Publishing/Konami. Another artist in this genre is JC Wong where the graduate of The One Academy is also a lecturer at the institute. His illustration works have been seen in various projects which involve around comics, fashion, children and animation, among others.
There would also be those who are connected to Manga art like the works of Shieko who has worked on her illustrations with major brands like adidas and Nike while she has also been involved in many street art projects. Apart from that, there are also other names in the illustration art scene that include Michael Chua who works with his Gilamon team in producing the first comic in Malaysia with a vinyl figure entitled ‘Gengky’.
And there are others like KidChan, Kromosom or Fy who has produced one of the most compelling digital artworks through his expertise in these tools. Other notable names in illustration art in Malaysia include the likes of Azhar Abdullah, Shahril Nizam, Yusrizal Yusof, Sheldon Goh, Junning, Hanie Saiful Remy Mokhtar or more fondly known as Eisu, Sarah Joan, Jiji Ishak, Zamzani Mat Zain and the Blink! Brothers consisting of Vijay Anand, Jaesern and Hazim.
There is also Tan Eng Huat who remains as one of the most prominent illustrators and digital artists especially with his contributions to world renowned titles like Silver Surfer: In Thy Name and Batman: Journey into the Knight. Tan also won the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer at the 2002 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.