Sunday, October 17, 2010


At some point-- I'm not sure when-- traditional drawing skills seem to have become unfashionable.
  • Perhaps it's because artists today see no percentage in competing with 1,000 years of talented draftsmen.
  • Perhaps it's because photography and other technical crutches have made the parlor tricks of drawing less inspirational.
  • Perhaps it's because illustrators have seized the license of fine artists who cast off traditional skills.
Whatever the reason, other ingredients of art (such as concept or design) have become so dominant that today many artists don't even pretend to be able to draw. (Consider the talented cartoonist Garry Trudeau who has drawn like crap for 40 years. You'd have to try mighty hard to avoid picking up at least some skill in all that time.) Some contemporary artists seem to go out of their way to draw in a crude or naive style, perhaps to avoid any comparison with traditional artists.

That's one reason I take pleasure in the work of Peter de Seve, an excellent, decisive draftsman who draws with great character and imagination.

Note de Seve's eye for the details of personality, for body language, for animated facial expressions and revealing gestures. His drawing ability enables him to give form to these insights in a way that many other contemporary illustrators cannot. He integrates these ingredients seamlessly using a loose, energetic line.

In an era when the greatest demand for images seems to be CGI in movies, computer games and similar venues, I find it interesting that de Seve's timeless powers of personal observation and old fashioned pencil drawing have become an essential building block for major animated movies such as the Ice Age trilogy or a Bug's Life. He contributes the flavor to character designs which (so far) no computer has been able to emulate.

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