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Illustration Lives- The Artist’s Personal Touch March 17, 2010

Posted by leskanturek in Animation, Events, Student Blog posts, Student Post.

Post by a Class Member

There is a subdued underground anxiety these days about the future of traditional Illustration.  Digital media is slowly suffocating print journalism as society embraces all things pixel-ed.  Will video and RGB-doodles crush the conventional beauty of watercolors and oils?  I do not believe so and my chance meeting with Peter de Sève supported the idea that Illustrators need not worry.

It was Friday, March 5, and I was attending the opening reception at the Society of Illustrator’s, “Annual Exhibition:  Illustrators 52”.  Peter de Sève, the character developer for Mulan, Walt Disney Home Entertainment (my personal fave); Finding Nemo, Disney Enterprises, Inc./Pixar; and Ice Age, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, was there in full animated glory.  He was gracious, humorous, and above all – genuine.  How refreshing to meet a grounded, yet famed Illustrator.


(above  left) This was me talking to Peter  during  Cocktail Hour, Sketch by Peter de Sève.


Of course, upon learning that Peter illustrated the much-loved characters of Ice Age, I rapidly searched the bowels of my brain to come up with something brilliant about the intellectual relationship of the wooly mammoth and sloth characters.  Naturally, the only beast I could recall from the series was the ill-fated dodo bird.

“Brilliant”, I thought, that the space in my head could only conjure up a brainless feathered species.  It would be like telling Audrey Hepburn that her rendition of Moon River inspired me to become a song artist.  Lame.

After a lot of dull “Wow!” and “Interesting!” exclamations on my part, I  managed to garner some very inspiring thoughts from Peter.  Namely, that he found his commissioned illustrations to BE his art.  Often, we-students are trained that client work is not art that will fulfill us rather it is a necessary evil in the labyrinth of competition among artists.  Peter debunked this thought; specifically, with his passion for his New Yorker covers.

The laughter we shared inspired me to “amazon” his book, A Sketchy Past, which is a delicious volume of his sketches and finished watercolors.  The book details Peter’s continuing passion for his work and his stubbornness in ensuring the yummy flourishes he adds to commissions remain in tact.  The satiated pictures included here demonstrate this illustrative execution.

(above) Two of three naked butts to be on the cover of The New Yorker Magazine (left) Beach Bum, The New Yorker, 2005,  (right) Through the Wringer, The New Yorker, 2008


(above) an Illustration from a new children’s book after Peter’s own family – his father and mother-in-law pictured here .  The Duchess of Whimsy, Penguin Philomel Books, 2009


(above) Self-Portrait with Art Director, Art Direction magazine, 1994


Peter declares his illustrations to be personal assignments and finds satisfaction by adding his own commentary to The New Yorker covers.  He manages to turn even a bland business commuter into a scrumptious plump beast daintily prancing through our soot-covered subway system.  And it is through this transformation that Peter finds peace with his art.

Alas, that is why Illustration will never die.  Illustrators bring rainbows, ruffles and renaissance to an otherwise loud and rushing world.  It was a pleasure meeting Peter de Sève, a talent who captures the glint of love and the furrow of doubt in any beast and implores personal flair to every creature he creates.  Bravo.

Peter is a 1980 graduate of the Parsons School of Design Illustration Dept.



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