Picture Hooks

Picture Hooks provides aspiring illustrators with a platform upon which to harness their skills and expand their network. The initiative works by pairing them with distinguished professionals in a mentoring capacity. The results of this year’s programme are displayed in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art until 18 February 2018.

The illustrative prowess of this year’s selection of mentors is proved at the heart of their body of work. The intricate detail of Benson’s watercolour brushstrokes coupled with the fluidity of his alternating shades of indigo blue awards his Lynx in ‘Let the Lynx come in’ with a truly captivating quality.

Similarly, Ross Collin’s ‘Platybus’ uses watercolour and charcoal lining to enliven his creaturely characters. His technical skill proves effective in capturing spectators’ imagination and immersing them in an illustrative animal kingdom. In contrast, the pupils’ pieces display a preference towards more computerised illustrative techniques, with Hlin Davidsdottir using Photoshop and Giclée Point to create illustrations evocative of the graphic novel style.

Hazel Dunn also employs these programmes. Having no previous experience in illustration, her background in textiles is made apparent through her tendency towards geometric prints and patterns. Yet, softened by the vibrancy of her use of colour and her fairy tale-like characterisations, the overall effect of her body of work is rendered friendly and approachable. Dunn has particularly valued the ‘warmth and emotion’ that Benson’s mentorship has helped to enhance in her work.

Anders Frang, one of this year’s successful pupils, has used the scheme to realise his ambition of creating his own picture book story. He mentions how this particular enterprise differs greatly from other exhibitions due to the unique premise of mentorship that it is based upon. He feels privileged to have been part of the Picture Hooks experience; not only has it given him the opportunity to showcase his work, his favourite of which is his polar bear sketch featured in ‘Wilbur finds a job’, but he highlights how much he has gained from the ‘well of wisdom’ of his mentor Steve Antony. Frang is keen to encourage other young illustrators to take up the Picture Hook’s gauntlet in coming years, as he feels that there is so much to gain from the scheme. His tips for navigating a potentially daunting first few steps into illustration include keeping a sketchbook as ‘you never know when ideas will come to you’ and building a network through what ever contacts are available.

The overall feeling of this exhibition is one of a fun and light-hearted nature, as these colourful depictions from mentors and pupils alike perfectly capture the magic of children’s picture books.  However, this exhibition is also testament to the importance of the principal behind Picture Hooks, in providing the work of fledgling illustrators with increased exposure and widening access to the children’s storybook industry.

Until 18 February 2018

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Photo credit: T. Thielemans via Wikimedia Commons

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