The focus of illustration is not the same as the focus of “fine art”…

…though the two have a lot in common. While fine art exists for itself, illustration illustrates: that is, it illuminates, explains, enlarges, and expands upon an idea or concept—often a piece of writing. Illustration shows; it exists in relation to another piece of work.

Yet the more I think about what I’ve said, the more I realize “what illustration is” can’t be caught in words. Instead, try these pages for some examples:

Historical illustration

Words for New Illustrators


All material on this site, both text and graphics, is ©Betsy James, and may not be used commercially without her permission.

Betsy James on Writing, Art, and Walking in the Desert

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