Friday, 6 April 2012

Hanoch Piven Research

Hanoch Piven

Recently, I had a portfolio visit with the Guardian in London. Sarah Habershon’s advice was that my portfolio was too broad, trying to reach too many audiences without focusing on one particular area of illustration. I think exploring different briefs and avenues, particularly whilst still at university where we are encouraged to experiment and manipulate should be a welcomed attribute from an employer’s perspective. Truth is, I enjoy illustrating for a child audience particularly, there’s more of an element of play to experience with a child audience in mind. Only I don’t want to limit my work prospects as that will also limit my earning potential and as a fresh graduate I need all the experience I can manage. It was then interesting to learn of Hanoch Piven, an Israeli mixed media artist who works for a child audience as well as creating works for editorials and thus an adult audience.

During my research on Piven I realised that child-friendly type illustrations such as mine could be adapted for an older audience too. Piven himself does this by adding visual twists such as the iconic matches he used for Saddam Hussein’s moustache circa 1990 when the world was getting ready for the Gulf War after Saddam and Iraq’s conquering of Kuwait, ‘the matches seemed a perfect metaphor for that imminent war/fire coming’. So there are visual elements that an older audience find amusing or witty, yet a child audience can still recognise the famous portrait and relate to the technique. As Piven put, metaphor works for an adult audience because they can understand the message implied. Similarly I use collage and mixed media to create my subjects though ephemeron doesn’t really feature as my work is all two-dimensional.

Additionally, it’s interesting to learn that he had two portfolios when he graduated, one for illustration and one for graphic design. If Sarah thought that my one portfolio was too varied in content and ‘broad’ then I would hate to see her reaction to the freshly graduated Piven way back when! For me, having work that appeals to different markets is an advantage, I see it as showing my flexibility and ability to mould myself to different situations, tasks and challenges. For me, limiting my portfolio and being selective about briefs I undertake limits my earning potential which at the end of the day is one of the major reasons I’m in the business. Therefore although having two portfolios might be slightly excessive, I admire his determination and commitment to accessing work.

In an interview, Piven was asked ‘You travel all over the world for workshops, and they are not just for artists, but with children, with seniors, with patients in hospitals…can you talk about how these workshops became part of your life as an artist, and what you can give to the participants, and what you get out of them?’. These workshops further connect him with both adult and child audiences, visiting schools and kindergartens, hospitals and museums, reinforcing his ability and suitability for editorials as well as children’s book illustration; he seems to seamlessly flit from one to the other. The majority of his editorial work also has a political slant featuring Saddam Hussein and Tony Blair to name a few. These editorials give him an outlet to vent his political views as well as being able to produce aesthetically pleasing illustrations for the child market.

If I could adapt my illustrations in a way as to add metaphor, wit and humour in a similar way to Piven it would give me more flexibility when it comes to employability and commissioning. If by entering the editorial market alongside child illustration offers this extra experience, it is certainly an arena I would be interested in exploring.

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