Recently, I have been seeing magazine and newspaper articles touting the talents of people under forty. They are usually titled, "Twenty under Forty", and feature the work of whomever the editors and writers feel deserve recognition for their work.
I am all for showcasing the work of talented people and shining a light on those who are doing outstanding work in their field and have seen and read a lot of good work by these youngsters. I have also seen a lot of derivative work which has been called innovative by writers who seem to not know the source material that influenced these young creators and seem dazzled by their style. I do not want to point fingers or name names, but I have seen and read articles in almost all of the top design magazines touting the work of younger artists, while not always recognizing how heavily influenced by they are by teachers and older pros who spent years developing their voices.
The world of publishing seems to value the look of a work more than the content. Illustrators seem hired, not because they have an original approach to content, or an interesting way of telling a story, but for the surface qualities of their work. This is not always the case, but from what I have seen and read recently, it seems to be the rule and not the exception. One example of this is a series of illustrations I saw in an annual last year. They were almost direct copies of an all too often copied illustrator who pioneered the use of symbolic imagery in American media.
I offer in the weeks that follow, with little editorializing, a sampling of the work of artists whom I feel have done outstanding work over the years, continue to grow and inspire, and yes, are all over 40. I hope that you enjoy their work as much as I have.
1. Ward Schumaker
Ward Schumaker's work has appeared in magazines, books, advertising campaigns, and on the walls of galleries. His eloquent brush drawings cut right to the heart of subject matter, and he combines a sharp wit with an excellent eye for color, shape, and simplicity. I recently discovered another side to Schumaker. An expressive and painterly series of images exploring themes ranging from composers to rivers of the world. The work is both symbolic and narrative, playful and serious.