Quentin Blake was born in the suburbs of London in 1932 and has drawn ever since he can remember.
I think that the very first book I fully read in English was Roald Dahl’s “The Twits”, illustrated by Quentin Blake. Our class library was full of Dahl’s books, and by the end of my second year in that English school I had read all of them. And they were all illustrated in the same simple yet very expressive style. I didn’t appreciate it much back then, I was somewhere around ten at the time, but Dahl’s stories tied in so tightly with it for me, that when years later I saw a Roald Dahl’s book illustrated by another artist, it felt weird and just plain wrong.
Here’s Quentin Blake’s official site: https://www.quentinblake.com/
I strongly urge you to check it out, it’s a delightful treasure trove of his lovely drawings and information! I especially liked his work process description, where he explains how he gets the hastily scribbled down look, and I kind of wish I had read it before attempting to copy his style for today’s exercise!
The complex simplicity of his drawings astonishes me. Looking at his work growing up I stupidly thought that if I ever felt like it, I could easily draw like that!
Interestingly enough, I wasn’t the only one who thought that.
A couple of years ago my mother gifted me one of the very few Terry Pratchett books that I haven’t already read called “Truckers”. Boy was I surprised when I noticed the illustrator’s name, after finishing the book. Not for a second did I doubt that it was indeed Sir Quentin Blake that did the quirky drawings throughout the book, and when I glanced at the back and saw that the cover illustration was done by Mark Beech, I scratched my head and went to clear things up in Google.
Here’s what some of Mark Beech’s work looks like:
Here’s his website: http://markbeechillustration.format.com/
I have somewhat mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, Mr. Beech’s illustrations are a joy to look at, and I’m sure that throughout the years of drawing in this style he brought his own additions and changes to it, it’s just that I’m unable to see any of that. All I see is a copy, albeit a very good one, of the artist I’ve grown to admire and cherish. It’s as if I was somehow tricked, although when I turn my brain back on, I struggle to understand why it makes me feel so negative. Logically, more people drawing in this style means that there are more wonderful pictures to look at and learn from.
Googling the issue further, I didn’t find any comments by Mark Beech on the issue, and I didn’t see him mention Quentin Blake as an inspiration or teacher, but maybe I didn’t look in the right places. The only mentions of Blake in connection to Beech’s work was in numerous reader reviews, where they expressed surprise (and sometimes shock) at the similarity between the two artists’ styles.
All of this gives me many a thing to ponder on while I continue to paint the nursery. At first I thought that I should just add the part about Mark Beech and end the post with some philosophical question about copying art, but then I decided that today shouldn’t be an exception to my Artist Sunday copy exercise, and here are a few sketches I did:
I first drew Willy Wonka in pencil. Quickly realizing my mistake, I switched to my feather quill and ink and did the rest, and they turned out a little bit better. But my inner 10-year-old-self still got a lesson in humility: it is anything but easy to draw like Quentin Blake, which is only expected, considering his years and years of experience!
So I thought I should end the post here. My husband handed me a moody Eli who wanted things, it was getting late… So I very quickly scribbled today’s comic page, and I already regret doing it in such a hurry, as my homage to one of my favourite illustrators turned out rather horridly:
What do you guys think? Is it okay to completely copy and work in someone else’s style as long as you’re not directly copying already existing images? To the point where people mistake one for the other? Is it a lot more common and accepted in the industry than a noob like myself is aware of? What are your general feelings and thoughts on the issue?