Have publishers lost their Phiz?

Drawing by Phiz

An article on the Independent website — Where have all the book illustrators gone? — appears to have provoked some rather angry debate.

The piece wonders why we do not see much illustration in books aimed at adults, something that was common in the days of Charles Dickens, who collaborated with illustrators such as Hablot Browne, aka Phiz, above.

Much of the angry reaction is directed at Dan Franklin, of the publisher Jonathan Cape, who claims that “there aren’t that many great illustrators … it’s hard to find someone who can draw the human figure, it seems to be unfashionable now”.

The PCO’s Jonathan Cusick contributes, conceding that it is true that drawing of the human figure is not taught on art courses to the extent it once was. Though, as Jonathan’s work shows, that hardly means accomplished artists are not still out there.

Bloghorn wonders how much cost is a factor. Is the absence of book illustration at least partly due to publishers’ reluctance to pay the proper rates for cartoons and illustrations? We can’t help thinking that many publishers are waiting for the day when Patrick Tresset’s drawing robot, which went on show at the London Art Fair last week, is available for commercial work.

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