Illustrating a point


Karina Laymen believes illustration is a servant of the creators of art. In the second of a series of articles, the Wanstead House tutor presents a piece of work inspired by a dream about the rapture

For centuries, illustration has been considered a type of pseudo-art in the sense of a non-self-generating conceptual art. Illustration forms part of that triangular relationship of communication, where the author generates the concept, story or event, the public is the direct receptor or passive interlocutor of the author and the illustrator is that third ‘auxiliary’ part who facilitates the understanding or visualisation of the concept.

This humble position, outside a two-side flux of communication, gives the illustrator an honourable commission of servitude to the public and the author, the substantial creator.

Society throughout the years, especially from the 18th century onwards, has become increasingly self-centred: in these last two centuries, society has lifted a monument to the ‘I’ and ‘yourself’ to the point of making an individual’s existence a piece of art, placing aside, ofttimes, the substance of the creator.

Art as a pure discipline features a more introvert or narcissistic expression of the individual, which is the creator, the author, that shows us what dwells inside him or her: feelings, experiences, psychological processes, desires, memories, impressions and so on. Therefore, in this bipartite relationship of artist and viewer, the latter becomes an admirer of a private experience of another individual.

The generous nature of illustration as a position of servitude aims to exalt the substance to be appreciated.

After 30 years of receiving persistent ‘commissions’ from an author, in 2019 I finally decided to embrace the project and pass on the message this especial creator has for the public: my dreams of the end times.

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions… And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit… And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke,” (Joe 2:28– 2:30, King James Bible).

I had this dream around 2003. Musicians in red outfits were playing their instruments on the clouds, meteors were hitting the ground, thousands of people were wearing dark and dirty clothes, as if they’d just come out of a war, and the moon was growing and growing; it was getting larger and occupied a big part of the reddish sky.

Lying ill on my bed, I was dying, my mum crying next to me, but at the same time, I was standing by the broken wall watching everything, my sister at the window very excited because of the huge moon.

Let’s pay attention to our dreams. We might not be the author, so let’s be “a faithful servant”.

To view more of Karina’s work, visit wnstd.com/karina

Karina teaches art classes every Friday at Wanstead House from 10am to 12pm. She also runs bespoke illustration courses for small groups. For more information, visit wnstd.com/riae or call 020 8550 2398