Monday, January 2, 2012

Another Really Old Old-School Artist (and Possibly the King of all Really Old School Artists)

Walter Crane is possibly the "king daddy" of all the "really old-school" artists that I've been profiling here. There's just something about these Arts and Crafts Movement illustrators that laid the groundwork for contemporary fantasy art (particularly of the RPG variety.) In fact, Crane was the illustrator for William Morris's Glittering Plain (you know, the book that forbore that little Tolkien work.)

Crane, though, is of particular note for his prolificness and pervasiveness. I don't imagine there's any book about the greatest illustrators of all time, or of the Arts and Crafts Movement, or the history of Children's literature for that matter, that doesn't bear his name somewhere in its pages.

But, for the purpose of today's blog, here's some badass RPG-lookin' art. (BTW, check out the political cartoon. Even that's pretty badass, with it's vampire bat and whatnot.)


  1. Wonderful images. I'm wondering if the methods of printing/reproduction for which these images were intended helped the artist develop his particular aesthetic.

  2. The printers (as designers) absolutely had something to do it. The printers themselves were seeking to present "cohesive" book designs (and return to a hand-crafted look), so the illustrations (provided by the illustrators) often needed to feel like they matched the typefaces and ornamentation (usually created by the small publishers/book designers, like William Morris.) The general aesthetic during the time (Art Nouveau/Arts & Crafts eras) were very classical in terms of overall style (of the figures themselves) with the additional use of heavier black outlines. If you read my older post about William Morris (and how the Industrial Revolution was responsible for D&D), Walter Crane (above) was actually the illustrator for Morris's "Glittering Plain."

    But as I mentioned, it was also an aesthetic of the time (in France/England, led by a group of printers and illustrators, who were all working with each other.) For other prime examples of illustration of the time period (and the specific movements mentioned above), you might check out Eugene Grasset, Alphonse Mucha, and Aubrey Beardsley.