Oct 14, 2011

Magazine Illustration: Rationale

The very first criteria listed in this assignment, was to select an article of substance from an existing magazine, this ruled out most of the magazines currently found at newsagents. I selected the article from TIME magazine as they are a publication well known for their journalistic integrity and their choice of story subject matter. I knew that I wanted something completely removed from animation or illustration and I knew that I wanted it to be dry and topical. These two factors dictated my selection of an article detailing the current economic situation in China and its’ far reaching ramifications.

Having studied political cartoons as a student of history I am aware of the iconographic visuals associated with various countries in certain contexts and this is why I choose to depict China as the sleeping dragon. The dragon is red in colour like the Chinese flag and around its sleeping eye can be seen the 5 stars that also make up the flag, the flag was important to include as it represents the country and also the theme of nationalism. The design of the actual dragon itself was very important as it is based upon the Chinese dragons often seen in temples and as a symbolic representation of the emperor. The dragon’s claw rests on the globe indicating as mentioned in the feature article the impact of an economic crisis in China across the globe. In my mind when the dragon is woken her first reaction would be to clutch and smash the earth which is in keeping (metaphorically) with the article’s themes of global economic turmoil. As the body of the dragon disappears into the distance it becomes the Great Wall of China, yet another symbolic icon of the country of China and important in defining the sleeping dragon as representing China herself. Above the dragon’s head (a shadow can be seen just above her horns) is bubble filled with houses. This is a direct interpretation of the false economy created by an inflated housing boom and the economic metaphor of a bubble that must eventually burst after a period of rapid growth. Once the bubble bursts, the houses will fall and awaken the dragon- this illustration correlates directly to the ideas within the feature article and creates a visual representative summation of the article’s themes.

 Once the illustration was created I faced the problem of making its look fit the magazine’s context. TIME magazine is a rather serious magazine that deals with socio political and economic issues from across the globe, therefore when looking at the coloured version of my illustration I found that it was a little too childlike or fantasy art based. The final design of a predominantly black and white image with the dragon and globe in colour provided a stark contrast whilst invoking a sense of seriousness and iconographic imagery associated with the country of China.
Final Full Colour Dragon

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