Suffolk’s Adams Gallery presents new works of Contemporary Illustration

Illustrations are more than pictures in children’s books; they can be used to sell a product, tell a story, and even influence an opinion. Every illustrator approaches their craft in a unique way and their work falls into a broad range of categories.

From now until April 28, the Adams Gallery at the Suffolk Law School is running the exhibit “Contemporary Illustration: At Your Service” which features work by nearly forty top illustrators from the United States, Canada and Italy. The exhibit contains everything from skateboard designs to those found in picture books.

Within the exhibit, each finished product is accompanied by its original illustration; it encompasses both a history of the art and a display of contemporary pieces from the last decade.

Since the illustration program at New England School of Art and Design (NESAD) is fairly new, the most advanced students in the program are still sophomores. The professional Contemporary Illustration exhibit is on display in place of their annual student exhibition to show the range of possibilities that exist with an understanding of illustration.

“People who don’t do illustration don’t have a complete understanding of what’s really involved,” said Lisa French, the Illustration Program Director at NESAD. “When we teach students, they learn what’s involved. Unlike some fields, illustrators do not all do the same thing. The description of the way that they work is not the same for all illustrators. We want students to follow direction of illustration that interests them most.”

Students can explore those different directions at the Adams Gallery, where the art is corporate, entertaining, inspiring, and purposeful. French described illustration as a catch-all art form; it prepares an illustrator for everything they may need to do.

“Illustrators are trained in how art communicates specifically with other people,” French added. “[They are] trying to persuade you to think something, tell a story, ridiculing, criticizing, commenting on society. It may seem straightforward, but there’s a lot of thought. A lot of really involved thinking that goes into illustration even for a simple narrative project like a book.”

One of the greatest advantages to having the exhibit at the Adams Gallery is the access it provides for students in CAS and SBS programs at Suffolk University. French discussed how a student might see that a connection exists between illustration and their own subject of study, that there’s always the possibility of collaboration.

“Illustration is about different subject matter – politics, science, literature, performing arts,” said French. “Illustrators are usually looking outward at the world and its issues, and at the people they work with: customers, clients. We think of it as an applied art. Real world, real use application. It’s working with others to create something that functions a certain way.”

Illustrators are trained to find the solutions for someone else’s project through their own creativity. “Contemporary Illustration: At Your Service” presents a broad range of examples of how each artist understands how art communicates specifically with others.

After this exhibit, the Adams Gallery will be running NESAD student shows through September.