Assignment four: Magazine illustration

This assignment should give you the opportunity to show off your developing style and use of tools and materials.

Often illustrators working editorially for newspapers and magazines will be given a very loose brief such as this one. The conversation with the art director would normally reveal more about the complexion of the written article, as would your own knowledge of the context in which the illustration would be seen. For many illustrators working with such an open brief is the best way to operate. In this instance your interpretation of the theme is a flexible one.

The brief

A magazine wants an illustration on one of the following topics:

  • Lost
  • Disaster
  • Discovery
  • Guilty secret

They want an illustration based on a still life. You have the freedom to select the items for the still life and are given creative free rein. The rest of the content, the method you use to produce it and the colours you use are all for you to decide.


I couldn’t decide what topic to choose for a long time and decided to brainstorm a little bit on every topic to chose not the topic but the specific idea.


The first option is to portray the still life of something that people often lose. As example gloves, umbrellas, keys, mobile phone and purses.

For example, it is possible to depict an empty bench and a glove without a pair lying on it.

It is possible to come up with something even more unusual. For example, I can draw an ordinary still life where something is missing. Imagine a room, where a picture was hung up on the wall for a long time. When people were papering the room they didn’t put up the paper under the painting. Why would they? They would put up the paper there again. But one time when the hosts moved out  and took the painting with them, there was an empty space on the wall . It is a good idea to depict this blank space on the wall.


I had an idea to draw a still life of a disaster. I wanted to depict a terrible mess on the table where everything was spilled, scattered and broken. And on a side of a picture I wanted to depict a barely visible tip of a cat’s tail, which caused all of the mess.


I wanted to depict a plaster head standing on a stack of books on my still life for the topic “discovery”.  Depicting an apple or a burning light bulb were a great ideas. Simple, nothing extra. 

A plaster  head symbolises someone who made a discovery. Stack of books refers to the fact that all future discoveries are based on the past investigations. Burning light bulb is a symbol of an idea. And one of the most famous inventions of humankind  is associated with the fallen apple.


What is exactly a criminal secret? Adultery? Murder? Living a  double life?  I like the last one by the way. I can draw a still life with an unusual angle of view. If you  look at the still life from the front, you can see a juicy shiny apple, a porcelain cup, a luxurious drape. But if you look at the same things from the other side, you can see that other side of an apple has already started to rot, there is a crack  on the cup and the drape has been eaten by a moth. When we look at a still life, we can see both sides of it, beautiful and ugly at the same time. It is possible to effectively show it with the light to emphasise the difference of the light and  the dark side of one still life. Actually, this still life is a metaphorical representation of a man who tries to hide his evil secrets and expose himself from the best side.



As it turned out later, the idea to brainstorm on each of the topics was not very smart because making a decision was even more difficult. I liked the idea of the still life of the discovery. But I couldn’t get plaster head anywhere. My second favourite was a still life of the guilty secret. Unfortunately, I again faced the problem with realization of the idea.  I didn’t  work  on any of the assignments for such a  long time. Although you can not call it work. The truth was, I just got stuck. That’s why one day I took my glove and went for a walk. I dropped it here and there. Then I picked it and put it in a prominent place as I just found another glove and wanted its owner  to notice it. I found a good place and painted a still life for the topic ‘lost’.

Loss, no matter how small the thing is,  is always sad. So when I thought about the color scheme of my illustration, I decided that it would be better to do it monochrome.


Here is my illustration.


A lonely glove on the railing waiting for its owner.








Categories: assignments, Illustration