Illustration History: Online Educational Resource & Archive for the Art of Illustration

Online Resource Provides Close-Up Look at the Art of Illustration

All children are familiar with illustrations, even if just from noticing an illustrator’s name noted on the cover of a favorite picture book. Illustration as an art form encompasses much more than images for children’s books; the art of illustration includes the creation of images for everything from advertisements to comic books. Using the Norman Rockwell Museum’s newest online resource, Illustration History, families can learn about the numerous forms of illustration, notable illustrators, and the connections between the art of illustration and history, culture, economics, and technology.

Launched just recently, Illustration History serves as both an educational resource and an archive, broadening the possibilities for learning with an extensive database of images and information about artists and illustration history.

Information is divided into five categories, allowing users to delve into illustration based on their interest – the history of the art, notable artists, genres of illustration, essays written about illustration, or resources for further study. The history portion of the website presents an overview of the history of illustration which is most accessible for teen learners (due to reading level and background knowledge), but history is everywhere amongst Illustration History’s resources, and younger learners can explore the rich and beautiful history of illustration through other means.

The bulk of Illustration History’s kid-friendly online resources are present within the artists and genres sections, where users can find biographical information on hundreds of notable illustrators from Ben Franklin to Andy Warhol or peruse fine examples of illustration genres from product advertisements and book covers to political cartoons and tattoos. Within each of these subsections are opportunities for users to explore time periods in illustration history as well as artists who are either relevant to a particular genre or who share a technique or style with another artist – thus allowing investigations into illustration history to easily have great depth and breadth.

In addition to exploring the rich resources offered within Illustration History, families can use the online resource to bolster studies of history, cultural change, economics, and technological development. Viewing examples of political and public service advertising alongside a study of a particular decade (like 1940-1950 or 1950-1960) could help children learn about the ways in which major historical events like World War II or the Vietnam War affected the messages shared with country and the ways in which they were conveyed. Similarly, examining corporate promotion and product advertisement illustrations can help children learn about the ways in which companies use information about consumers’ culture, needs, and economic standing to create advertisements that work.

For further illustration-guided studies, use Illustration History’s Resources section, or visit either the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art or the Norman Rockwell Museum, western Massachusetts’ two illustration-filled museums.

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