Illustration Senior Show: Diegesis

The name of this show is “Diegesis: (noun) the time and place in which a story takes place.” This should give the viewers some context for how to view the senior projects. The title was appropriate for illustration in general, but not all the projects lived up to this description.

This show gave the viewer an interesting look at the current state of illustration. Almost every artist’s style was distinct from its peers; from cartoonish to digital, to graphic novel, the diversity was evident. To unite all of these pieces in one show was a bit of a stretch. Although they are all forms of illustration, the genres and the contexts for the illustrations varied greatly. Understandably, it was unreasonable to expect perfect cohesion for a show that displays seven different artists, each with their own style and illustration interests. Yet, the title tried to tie them all together by alluding to the stories that the viewer should witness in each artist’s project. I just failed to see clear continuity when each artist has a different story to tell to different audiences. This dissonance distracted from appreciation of what each artist had to offer.

Historically, illustration was a way to help illiterate populations understand the stories or themes of a written work. Today, most children’s literature, including chapter headings in teen novels have illustrations. The comic book or graphic novel have also found a foothold in our culture. The purpose of illustration now is to enhance the story-telling experience, for a very visual culture.

All of the pieces in this show reinforced the new purpose for illustration, and in this way, all the artists were successful, because they displayed their incredible abilities to create an aesthetic element to a story. It was obvious that all the artists involved in this show were talented and creative. Yet, a few of the artist stood out in particular, for their creative style, continuity and economy. Micah Ables, Elizabeth Simpson and Emily Mogren stood out amongst their peers.

Ables found the perfect balance of detail and economy in his scenes from Dune. His context was straightforward, visually stunning and concise. By only providing five images, Ables gave the audience a taste for the story without spelling it out for them.

Simpson created well-developed characters, Soren and Fiore. The storyboard isn’t overcomplicated and her special and detail awareness was striking. Simpson set up the visual outline of her graphic novel, without overloading the viewer with details of its story and characters.

Mogren’s watercolor scenes were delicate, intricate and uncomplicated. The context and story line were easy to follow and beautiful to look at. She added an element of creativity in her contrast of the real sketchy world and the colorful enhancement of the imagined world.

What sets these three artists apart is what the other artists struggled to accomplish – an established story characterized by straightforwardness and beauty. These traits are weaker in their contemporaries’ works, in particular Ashley Meissner. With set of over 25 images, Meissner tried to convey a story with flashy pictures and song lyrics. Even with the description beside her display, it is a struggle to follow the plot and characters. The busy and flashy illustrations stand in stark contrast to the succinct elegance of Ables Dune illustrations or Mogren’s simple playful pictures.

I went to the show and I enjoyed seeing what the young illustrators of Seattle Pacific had to offer. Though I was not overly impressed, I can still acknowledge the talent I did see and appreciate, as well as the potential in the others, which I did not fully enjoy. All the artists had a story to tell, and all of them did it in their own way. They had a specific audience and seemed to cater to it fairly well. In order to stand out and shine, however, the illustrators had to show something more refined and organized. Their work needed a clear plot, aesthetic beauty and, in my opinion, it needed visual economy.

– Hannah Bastedo


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