At its most basic level, illustration is storytelling. And the Richmond Illustrators Club annual juried show is full of stories from all over the world.
"I think illustration is such a populist art form. ... It is so unpretentious," the club's president, Katie McBride, says. "Its very purpose is to connect to as many people as possible, while deepening their engagement with a narrative and answering questions for the viewer, while simultaneously posing new ones."
There are 400 entries from 16 states and the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany and Taiwan, which will be judged by a group of jurors representing the diversity inherent in illustration — designers, art directors and graphic novelists.
"Melding Richmond's local talent with a large-scale international event is important and helps our creative community grow in many ways," the club's vice president, Holly Camp, says. It has grown from an annual members' show at the main public library, organized to highlight Richmond as a thriving illustration community and home to nationally recognized talent.
"I think for a few years there was a trend where "bad drawing" was a style, and I feel like this year people have pretty firmly moved away from that in favor of more classic approaches, while still maintaining smart concepts and unique stylizations, but with a foundation of good drawing," McBride says. "I'm also noticing really inventive, unique ways of creating art digitally, often in conjunction with traditional methods like pen and ink or graphite. Richie Pope's gold-medal-winning piece is a great example."
Camp agrees. "I'm seeing a lot of work incorporating large graphic shapes and clean negative spaces that really emphasize readability," she says. "There are also a lot of organic lines and color washes that embrace texture and the beloved happy accident, kind of like a go-with-the-flow style of illustration."
The exhibition showcases works in a wide range of genres and mediums and is a timely reminder for Richmond of its remarkable presence in the illustration world.
"I love watching the people who come to the openings and get sucked into to the work," McBride says. "They stand so close to the work, pick over details, and talk to their friends about the story they think is being told." S
The Richmond Illustrators Club annual juried show runs through June 30 at Ghostprint Gallery, 220 W. Broad St. A closing reception is planned for June 29 at 6 p.m. For information, call 344-1557 or go to ghostprintgallery.com.