Thursday, July 1, 2010

Robert Weaver: "I saw illustration as a real calling"

Much of this week's imagery has been from my collection of old Cosmopolitan magazines, and today I'd like to share with you my favourite Robert Weaver illustrations; from the February 1962 issue of Cosmo.

In an interview published years later, Weaver said, "I liked working for Cosmo, before Helen Gurley Brown took it over and ruined it. I did... a lot of detective stories, which I enjoyed doing, but even that kind of fictional illustration grew out of the real. I used real data."

"First, I had some kind of image in my mind. I sort of knew what I wanted to get. But you see, I based my Cosmo work on a lot of sketches of real situations. I was telling a fictional story, but using real life people in the interest of credibility."

"I always had two pages, sometimes three. That was the nice thing about working for them. The magazine was filled with illustrations. Sequences allowed me to share more information with the viewer, rather than reducing a complex notion to a simplistic symbol."

"In the early days... I saw illustration as a real calling. I felt that everything I needed to say could be said in illustrations. In other words, I would find within a manuscript some way of putting myself into an illustration - there was plenty of room to roam around. Now illustration has become very constricting."

"Illustration assignments provided an outlet. I saw illustration as an end in itself. I began to see it as a real calling and not just a way to make money. I was certainly lucky. There were some very good art directors around who would let me do it my way."

"But... I have grown up, and illustration is a young man's art form. I think one eventually gets tired of that kind of illustration where you have to make up solutions that are essentially simplistic. If you really do have an interest in art or in ideas, you need some way of letting that come out, and you can't do it in illustration alone, unless you're given a lot of paper and a lot of time and freedom."

* My Robert Weaver Flickr set.

* Many thanks to Daniel Zalkus, who passed along the interview from which I quoted today's passages. Unfortunately the date and publication were unavailable to Daniel - who had only photocopies, not the original magazine in which the interview appeared. We can only determine that this interview took place after 1976 since Weaver mentions it in one of his comments.

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