Illustration design has lived in a sort of limbo for almost a decade, because we did not have a clear set of digital artistic values to appreciate the proportion of functionality and decorative character of such design creations.
A New Medium
Visual arts have been strictly regulated into painting, photography and motion film for such a long time, that introducing a new element would seem like a desecration of a predetermined world order. Graphic design, even creative illustrations did not count as true art. Maybe we could accept them as modern artwork, in the same manner in which some concede to accept hip hop as music.
There is no doubt that the artists’ tools of trade have changed. The computer and design software have replaced the easel, the brushes and the pots of paint. And there is no doubt that the creations of these new age painters are artistic. We shall refer to the artwork of US illustrator J. Slattum as a case study.
There is no doubt that we can call J. Slattum’s artwork surreal. Looking closely, we can even see something of Salvador Dali’s influence in the original and clashing concepts brought together, in the fluid lines and clear cut backgrounds, making the main subject stand out and almost leap out of the image.
His work is full of meaning and visually appealing and this is what we usually say about a great painting. His style is effortless and the border between real world and surreal elements is thin and smooth, without any discrepancies and forced blending.
What is truly amazing about Slattum’s artwork is the deceptive simplicity of each illustration. He uses simple, clear-cut lines and a simple color palette of 3 or 4 complementary colors. He favors terracotta-brown and reddish-beige earth colors and muted blue for the sky, or varied shades of deep blue.
There is usually one character, maximum two in each scene, but this singular humanoid form is captivating through the powerful emotions it expresses. The wide open eyes and mouths, the contorted poses speak volumes and need no further appendages to communicate a series of complex ideas.
The world we live in shapes everything around us: our likes and dislikes, our entertainment and our culture. Digital artwork is no longer child’s play or a marketing by-product. Creating digital graphic designs is no longer just a job. It is not a tool for creating product packages and advertising materials.
The surreal artwork of J. Slattum is as artistic as any exhibit in a museum. Whether you admire it on canvas or on a computer screen, art maintains the same quality of injecting beauty and magic into our lives and bringing us, at least for a few moments, a sense of wellbeing.