The latest issue of Varoom explores the further edges of illustration, featuring work that goes beyond narrative storytelling. As magazine makers it’s easy to limit our interest in drawn art to work that brings to life the written word it accompanies. Here we see more.
Varoom is always a treasure trove of work; that is its primary role as the journal of the Association of Illustrators. But editor Olivia Ahmed has enriched the publication with its recent themes and this one is particularly strong.
A number of the featured works involve illustrated tools for users to use for their own ends – Hervé Tullet’s ‘Game of Sculpture’ lets children create their own sculptures using a beautiful set of parts (above), and a look back at early Police photo-fit systems offers historical context for today’s face recognition systems (below).
Others exert a more authorial role onto otherwise more traditional forms of illustration. Merlin Strangeways’s work takes anatomical illustration and adds emotion (above), the end results a fascinating mix of the physical and the mental, ‘My approach was met with some confusion from the traditional surgeons that were teaching me – they expected to see accurate renditions of anatomy and they were less interested in drawings that approached the patient’s lived experience.’
Infographics feature too, with experts like the Delayed Gratification team (above) and Peter Grundy sharing their thoughts on the visual expression of data.
The highlight of the issue is Caitrin Morgan’s work based on the absurdist techniques of the Oulipo movement, a French group who applied mathematical parameters to their writing and art. Morgan’s series of kitchen designs dictated by prime numbers (above) and her set of maypole designs (below) reflect here belief that her ideal projects are ‘a combination of complex structure and gut instinct.’
The relationship between the writing and the work itself is perfect throughout the issue, providing well-researched, brief, commentary and relevant direct quotation alongside plenty of sample work.
Varoom has been through many iterations over the years but is riding a high today.
Editor: Olivia Ahmed
Graphic design: Fraser Muggeridge Studio
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