Monday 1 February 2010

The Magic of McEwan

There are some illustrators who despite their talents, you just never really see their work. It's not that they're not busy, in fact it's often quite the reverse and when I first encountered the work of Chris McEwan, my reaction was very much along the lines of wonderment, that a) his work was just so mind bogglingly amazing and b) that being the case why had I never heard of him?

The answer was probably to do with the fact that most illustrators who I was aware of were appearing in books and magazines, Chris McEwan au contraire was appearing everywhere, including the occasional gig with books and magazines, but the other worlds that his work encompassed including advertising illustration, packaging, design work and animation design and storyboards were despite their high profile status, areas of work where the individual illustrator receives no credit.

He studied illustration at Brighton Art College and then followed that with a post graduate course at the Royal College of Art, which was the kind of deal where being a good commercial illustrator wasn't sufficient to gain you admission to the hallowed portals, you had to be a little bit "other" for the RCA to feel that you would gain any benefit from a further three years study.

Chris McEwan was definitely 'other" his work being a weird but nevertheless highly enticing synthesis of a variety of influences, including Winsor McCay, George Herriman (Krazy Kat in case you were wondering), early Disney, those little wooden 1950's primary colored building bricks and all sorts of other cool trash culture reference points.

He followed up the RCA with work in Paris as an art director, which is the best kind of training an illustrator can receive in terms of seeing briefs from a client's perspective. And from there the illustration world was his oyster and he was in the enviable position of being able to command work from a very broad client base, which in terms of long term survival as an illustrator is a very useful position to be in.

Here for your delectation are some samples of McEwan's extraordinary artistry from a long out of print book entitled "World Tales" and "Pinocchio" which is one of those texts that sits so perfectly with his distinctively different artistry.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.


  1. Interesting, yet another I am not familiar with your blog is a constant source of new influences.

  2. Thanks James, it's really good to know that a lot of this stuff is coming across as fresh and new.

  3. I second that very enthusiastically!

  4. Guys you're really too good to me but it's so rewarding to get such positive feedback.

    I'll feel even more reinvigorated when I set about doing tomorrow's post.

    Still mulling over what it's going to be though...

  5. Maybe it's time for that William Stout article, Peter? (I did just try scanning some Coven 13s for you but the results don't do justice to the original artwork.)

  6. I'm erm working on it Dave but not for the next two weeks due to research involved versus pressure of work but I'm in detective mode.

    But yes William's definitely worth a revisit.