The father of British illustration, being a major benefactor of children’s books in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Rackham is a household name around the world now. As with many of our posts, I’m sure his name might ring a bell to most of our followers, but that would be a shame to leave anyone out. (And, who doesn’t love to be reminded of the beauty illustration can possess?)
Looking back on his work now, I can see how an early James Jean or Joao Ruas are clearly inspired by his work. But, I love a contemporary adaptation of traditional skills (which, come on, we need no argument of JJ or JR’s skills…!) Arthur developed a completely new style for his time, using pen and ink and dozens upon dozens of thin washes of color to create his soft gradations of light, dreamy chroma. He is often attributed to being influenced by Japanese wood block prints, but I think most of mass publishing artists during his time (including before and after his time as well) were looking at how they could create dynamic images with the simplest of techniques, as they had to produce so many so quickly. (Not to mention an artists’s love of art history and techniques….!)
Anyways, Rackham may not seem something spectacular to some people as his style his often mimiced today, in the same way that people think LOTR is boring as the story is so predictable, but in both cases it is the revolutionary ideas of these originals that deserves the attention. (On a side note, I absolutely LOVE LOTR, almost as much as I love Arthur Rackham’s work….!)
Rackham has quite a few unofficial websites, many of which are very good, such as:
But it is sometimes funner to do a google search and get lost….!