On the 3rd of February this year Readers Digest Design Director Martin Colyer visited the University of Northampton to give a lecture and look at 3rd year Illustration portfolios. In his lecture Martin discussed his experience in the publishing industry since graduating from The Chelsea School of Art in 1979.
His first job was a junior in the design department of The Radio Times before moving to The Listener flowed by a brief stint as a freelance art editor for the Sunday Times magazine. He then worked as Deputy Art Director at The Observer magazine for three years before taking on his current position at Readers Digest.
In his lecture Martin showed a selection of slides from Readers Digest to demonstrate the variety of illustrators that he has commissioned, from Gary Baseman to Brian Cronin and Noma Bar. He talked about his “neutrality on style” because there are more important things that he looks for in an Illustrator. Namely, an Illustrator should be able to bring a alternative point of view to a publication.
In his position at Readers Digest he aims to use “intelligent illustration in a mainstream context”. When considering the design of a monthly magazine Martin spoke about the need for “freshness” which can be achieved with the use of illustration. It was fascinating to listen to Martins’s thoughts on the current state of illustration. He spoke about how the genre of illustration is becoming blurred,with so many multi-disciplined practitioners working within the industry in a multitude of mediums. He also spoke about the difficulty that illustrators face in finding your own style, because of the abundance of visual influences. I would agree with this. From the visual media of television to the online media of Flickr and other websites to the beautifully published compendiums of Illustration ( like my favourite Illusive: Contemporary Illustration and its Context) it can be overwhelming. It makes it very difficult to see what makes you stand out as an individual in the melee.
Food for thought...
Heres a link to Martin’s Website and Blog