It’s no secret that art is a powerful and persuasive tool often used to address social and political issues. As a visual medium that transcends all languages, cultures and identities, art has the ability to convey complex concepts in terms that nearly everyone can comprehend. That’s what makes it one of the most resonating means of communication across the globe, and also why it has steadily persisted for centuries.
Art also allows artists to address more sensitive and taboo subjects in creative ways. Just take Directory of Illustration artist Josh McKenna: in our recent Artist Feature on Josh, we discuss his adept ability to encourage conversations about same-sex marriage, gender fluidity and other similar topics through his illustrations. His Vogue dancer design (right), originally created in celebration of Pride Month, has become a permanent fixture within the Instagram app. Given this sassy dancer’s origin, an implicit message is spread across social media every time the character struts across your Instagram Stories.
In contemporary times, with the rise and expansion of the social media landscape, messages communicated through art can be spread rapidly over the web to all corners of the world. There’s a reason so many artists have taken to social media to share their artwork (and subsequently, their embedded messages): it works. Last year, DI artist Janelle Barone launched a Kickstarter campaign called #TheBottomLine, using her original artwork to raise awareness about the detrimental consequences of mining, plastic waste, climate change and other environmental concerns. As of January 2019, #TheBottomLine has successfully raised over $1,000 AUD; these funds will enable Janelle to continue creating artwork to spread awareness of these aforementioned issues. In our blog post feature on Janelle’s project, she told us that “the idea of spreading awareness, and using art as a donation or fundraising tactic is at the heart of what led to the creation of these works.” Janelle clearly understood the effectiveness of using art to bring attention to such paramount environmental issues.
Here are some wonderful examples of Directory of Illustration artists who have effectively integrated social and/or political commentary into their illustrations. Get a closer look at these artists’ portfolios by clicking on the images below (artists and reps are also listed at the bottom).
What messages do you take away from these illustrations?
Featured Directory of Illustration Artists: Fatinha Ramos, Ronald Slabbers, Cody Muir, Janelle Barone, Josh McKenna (represented by Debut Art), Matt Kenyon, Tiago Galo (represented by AAARep), Mark Brewer, April Hartmann, René Milot (represented by Morgan Gaynin), John Holcroft (represented by Lindgren & Smith), Wendy Bayliss.