The popular image of the lazy illustrator rising at noon from a pile of empties and languidly daubing a few ill-formed splashes of dirty paint with one hand while counting wads of cash with the other is only part of the picture.

What people don't see are the long hours spent mining, grinding and mixing just the right pigments, hand-rolling leads and turning each pencil on a lathe, painstakingly hand-forming sheets of paper, harvesting retting and weaving linen before stretching the ideal canvas, and then stitching the costumes and dressing and posing the models for their sitting, and waiting for that brief period of absolutely perfect light.



But before any of that can even begin, the hardest work of all must be performed -- the work that sets the great illustrator apart from the mere artist -- coming up with the IDEA. For any scribbler can draw a perfect rendition of a kitten, but thinking up the concept of a kitten hanging precariously onto a clothesline with its front paws, with the caption 'hang in there, baby' -- that, my friends is the genius of illustration.

Ross MacDonald