Thursday, 7 May 2009


Otto Dettmer came to collage to talk about his illustrations and the practicalities of trying to make a profession out of them. I used to dislike ottos visual style in the first year but i have learnt to appreciate it more over the years and recently i think its safe to say i really like it. I like OTTOs work in the same way that i like Gillian Bleases, the imagery is very stripped back in terms of aesthetic the use of flat single colour and there is rarely a landscape just little vignettes but the imagery unlike Blease has a character all its own and is unmistakably Otto. Ottos work looks its best in the context it was designed for, in a newspaper accompanied by text. It is in this situation it shines. I used to think the imagery looked a little stark on screen (no qualms with content) but in the paper it provides a good contrast to the words. At first i thought this might be unintentional and that this is fortunate that he happens to illustrate like this; then you realise he was conscious of this and that it was all considered and intentional. His own books provide a contrast to this and are much more colourful, intricate and contain allot more depth with landscapes rather than little vignettes, showing how much of an accomplished designer he is.

When he talked of industry he didn't seem fond and much preferred his own book making work, he said the best money can be earned from advertising but this is usually very hard and a little demoralising but worth every penny. He said another good way of getting those all important extra pennies was to keep the copyright after an image is used, this way you can resell it at a later date, he had some examples of this.

Ottos influences include: Russian and Polish illustration, Konstantin Makovsky, El
Lissitsky, Nicolas Poussin. He said that he draws inspiration for figurative positions from Renaissance artists and sculptures who were obsessed with perfecting how to paint and sculpt the human form. Old movies he said are also good for layout or characters, particularly the silent ones because they can communicate so much with such little much like a good illustration.

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