I’ve just come back from a fascinating talk by the illustrator Quentin
Blake. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Quentins (a rare plural,
there) are always worth listening to, but this talk was a particular gem.
His book Words and Pictures is definitely going on my shopping list. There’s a lot more to illustration than simply drawing pictures.
I love the insight that you get from this sort of talk, for the same reason
that I love watching DVDs that have a director’s commentary as one of the
soundtracks. Some people tell me that films aren’t meant to be watched that
way; that you spoil them by over-analysing them. It’s like saying that
scientists who understand botany can’t appreciate flowers.
I disagree. Knowing a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes makes me
realise how much I take for granted, how much more there is to the creative
process than I would pick up as a casual observer. The more levels there
are to life, the more interesting it is. I can still enjoy a Hitchcock
film while knowing about some of the camera tricks he had to use to achieve
the result. I can choose to forget the lower levels. The whole point of art
is that you know it’s an illusion, but you are willing to be taken in by it.
Perhaps, the more aware you are of the mechanics, the more satisfying is the
willing suspense of disbelief?