Looking Back to Look Forward: Illustration Styles of the Past 30 Years
Illustration is one of the most important forms of visual communication: it informs and observes, delights and decorates, instructs and inspires. From the first drawings man made in a cave, illustration has played a fundamental role both in telling stories and in sharing information—and it is as relevant as ever in helping us understand our modern world. Today’s artists create an astonishing variety of illustrations across a spectrum of styles and genres, informed by a rich history and extraordinary innovations in recent decades. In this article, we’ll explore some of the art and social movements that have influenced illustration over the past 30 years.
Fast forward to 2017, and the idea of an art movement is laughable. Everything from Stone Age cave paintings to the latest Postmodernist art has been tossed into the spin cycle of popular culture and consumerism. The first picture was uploaded to the Internet in 1992. Today, more than 80 million images are uploaded to Instagram alone each day. “There’s no more ‘flavor of the month,’” says designer and illustrator Von Glitschka, referring to a term he and another illustrator coined for work that would be popular with creative directors for a while and then fade. “That doesn’t happen now. Social media has changed that; the way an audience interacts with a ‘look’ takes place so quickly.”
Art Nouveau saw a major popular revival in the late 1960s, when it was reinterpreted in numerous rock concert posters and album covers; this distinctive psychedelic look has, in turn, influenced later generations of artists.