Illustrated Newspaper Section Covers as a Platform for a Visual Authorial Voice
This piece of research is an exploration into the potential of the illustrated newspaper section cover as a platform for a visual authorial voice with a mass audience. It is evidenced in twelve commissioned covers for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Economist between 2017 and 2020. Specific lines of inquiry were the potential use of the platform to explore illustration’s function in relation to photography, and the potential to use the platform to subvert gender and racial stereotypes.
The newspaper section cover is unusual amongst applications of illustration in terms of the large page area available for the image. The large image size requires an involved piece of visual communication with more room for content than is required by its fundamental objective of describing the contents of the section. Long term professional relationships with the art directors developed the trust that enabled the researcher to experiment in these spaces.
Exploration through drawing was utilised to develop authorial ideas and ensure the solving of the brief. Research of subject and archival material was utilised to inform the visualisation and stylisation of subjects. Reflection on the unique communicative characteristics of illustration as compared to photography (the dominant picture form used in newspapers) formed the basis for pictorial objectives. These included the expressionistic manipulation of pictorial space and the creation of pictures which shared characteristics with written language in terms of arranged relationships of generic symbols designed to be read. The images were populated with people with a range of skin tones often acting in contrast to stereotypical gender roles. The final artworks were created by combining the stencil principles of screen printing with digital tools and processes.
Based on published circulation figures, the outcomes had a total reach of 3.6 million people. Several of the illustrations were reused prominently on the newspapers’ front covers increasing their reach significantly.