Sunday, May 17, 2009
Attention all illustrators!
I had an email a couple of days ago from Bible Artist Keith Neely. Keith informs me that he has three filing cabinets filled with magazine pictures that he's been collecting for over 30 years that he is willing to give away to anyone interested! Keith explained that because all of his work is now Bible related, and due to the fact that he is approaching semi-retirement, he no longer has use for them.
Keith, quite rightly, doesn't want this collection to go to waste as it is a gold mine for any illustrator.
Just in case you are thinking that three filing cabinets full of magazine pictures doesn't sound very interesting, let me explain to you exactly what this collection is.
In his email, Keith used the term 'Scrap files' which I presume is the American name for a collection like this. In the UK we have the much grander term of 'Artists reference files'. I was going to liken artists reference files to 'Google Images' but it would be more accurate to liken them to your own personal library of 'Stock photography'.
Before the internet came into existence, many artists built up a collection of pictures to use for reference. They might be photos of mountains from National Geographic, or Pyramids from a travel brochure. These collections contained pictures of literally everything, which is why they took so long to collect and why they are never complete!
Not every artist saw the importance of such a collection, but I was fortunate to sit next to an artist back in 1976 who did. Mike Barrett had an artists reference system that was second to none! Mike had started his collection back in 1958 and It was contained in two filing cabinets in the office at D. C. Thomsons.
I remember once asking Mike if he had any references of an Italian Policeman as I had to draw one. After a couple of minutes, and with Google like efficiency, Mike produced a neat folder from his filing cabinet titled 'Foreign Police uniforms', and sure enough it contained photos of Italian policemen. That's how good these old reference systems were! It was Mike Barrett who said to me "An artist is only as good as his references!"
I don't believe that the internet has made these collections redundant either as they contain magazine quality pictures, (not low res Jpeg's), and these pictures are never likely to surface on the internet either. Collections like this are becoming very rare because the artists who own them are either already retired, (like Mike), or about to.
Keith lives in Indiana in the U.S. Anyone interested in his collection should email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will pass on your email to Keith.