Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Nick Dewar

Nick Dewar was an American illustrator who sadly passed away at the beginning of this year. His work has always been some of my favorite. He actually served as a portion of the reason that I desired to study illustration. I am a sucker for dark, thick outlines around figures as well as large, consistent fields of color. These two things were very characteristic of Dewar.

In the top piece, which is much more of what people normally associate with Dewar, is so much fun to me. Using minimal color and line, the piece presents a very particular mood and concept. I've interpreted this piece as a commentary on the nature of a human relationship in western society. The bubbly shapes jutting out of the otherwise basic figures seem to represent the edges of puzzle pieces, making a sort of snarky joke about the desire and/or inability to locate a perfect match in the romantic world. Maybe he intended something else... I don't know. This is what I see.

My point is that Nick Dewar had the ability to really convey something that could be insanely complex with the smallest bit of visual information. Of course not all of his work was so specific or full of meaning, but pieces like this are not few.

I am in a Figure Drawing class this semester and while my professor was laying the guidelines for our first drawing session, he told us "detail is only appropriate when it supports structure". I take this as a more verbose way of saying "less is more". To some degree, this concept applies to almost everything. Though attention to minute visual details in illustration may be impressive and entertaining, the concept of simplistic genius impresses me much more.

Imagine the couple in Dewar's illustration recreated sans puzzle bubbles. Imagine them drawn to near-realism, placed in a kitchen, and with word bubbles floating above them. Imagine the conversation about the state of their relationship. It may be interesting to look at for a bit...but, isn't it better to just get to the point in a fun creative way like this? I think so.

P.S. Sorry I did not post last week. I was home sick all week and am still without internet in my new apartment.


  1. I really like how clean his work is. It's really fun to look at, and I agree with your interpretation on the first piece.

  2. I saw the bottom illustration by Dewar the other day while doing research for another class and fell in love with it. I actually might be using it as a source of inspiration for my next illustration project. It's so very different from work that I do, and I think it would be good for me to try something new and approach the project with "less is more" at the forefront of my mind. I just wonder how successful I will be. I appreciate how he communicates with minimal detail. Illustrations don't need to be so obvious at first glance and scream, "This is what I mean! This is what I'm trying to communicate!" It's very clever how he makes viewers take a minute to look at his work longer to process what he is conveying. And at the same time, the communication is not too hidden or difficult to understand, it's just subtle.