Right: Black and white and Rea all over. A detail from Brian’s Illustrate Me contribution for June 2006.
Status Report for Illustrate Me
Which brings me to a brief recap of Illustrate Me so far: in all honesty, it hasn’t been the sensation that I hoped it would be, at least in terms of traffic, notoriety and comments generated. When I think about why that is, I see two reasons.
First, illustration doesn’t garner the excitement on the Web that it might in other media, or maybe that it might have in another era. As a visual consumers, we᾿re living through an age dominated by the digital camera, in which photographic images are pervasive and ceaseless — today’s torrent of photos is so powerful that even the media gateways for these pictures, in the form of Flickr and its ilk — are as much a marvel as the pictures themselves. For the time being, anyway, our interest in hand-drawn imagery has waned.
The second reason is much less abstract: I’ve done a lousy job of promoting this project. What makes them interesting — their tangential relationship with the archive posts they illustrate — is also what makes them difficult to access. It’s counter-intuitive, I’ve come to realize, to send users to the archives in order to see one of the most vibrant and interesting things I’m doing here. Illustrate Me needs a better showcase. I just haven’t provided a good information architectural solution to that problem and I’m going to have to spend some time figuring out how to do that.
Illustrate Me is actually one of the topics that I covered briefly during my talk at An Event Apart NYC last week. I didn’t dwell so much on Illustrate Me’s performance as on why I persevere with this project, and why I don’t let its relatively disappointing reception deter me.
Being the proprietor of Subtraction.com allows me the otherwise rare chance to be an author, editor, designer and art director all at once. In fact, it’s my belief that blogs in general are a unique inflection point in the history of design authorship; never before has it been possible for designers to execute our own ideas so thoroughly, from soup to nuts, and to distribute them to a potential audience of millions at virtually no cost.
To me that’s a fantastic opportunity that I want to make the most of. It allows me to engage in something about which I feel very passionately, and to do so on my own terms. And it also gives me the chance, hopefully, to inspire a similar passion in readers like yourself about those subjects. If you like what you see here by Brian or any of the artists that preceded him, drop them a line and let them know.