A Look at Art Styles in Books

Art is a broad and complex term. There are a whole range of art styles, and many of them can be found in picture books. The most popular styles of art that appear frequently in illustrated books are:

Realism

Gadzhiev, Amir book illustration

Gadzhiev, Amir


Realistic art is common in educational books and ones with serious themes. Realistic art attempts to create images that are faithful to the object they represent. Careful attention is paid to color and proportions. Some artists attempt to create photo-realistic images, but approximations can still be considered realistic.

Expressionism

Erich Heckel

Erich Heckel


Expressionism was a popular style in France during the late 19th century. Expressionists use distorted shapes, bold lines and provocative colors to create a distorted impression of realty. This style is far removed from realism.

Cartoon Art

Molly Crabapple

Molly Crabapple


Cartoon art is popular in children’s books. Dr Seuss made extensive use of cartoon art, using exaggerated caricatures in his popular book, “The Cat in The Hat”. Cartoons are usually simple, bold, and highly recognizable.

Impressionism

Nikolay Ushin

Nikolay Ushin


Impressionistic artists rely on the interaction of colour and light to create interesting, fleeting visual impressions. This style of art is often used to express soothing or pensive emotions. Cezanne was a well-known impressionistic artist. Another famous impressionist was Monet. Impressionistic art is usually used in illustrated books that are aimed at slightly older audiences, although it is often found in romantic books aimed at young girls.

Surrealism

Rick Beerhorst

Rick Beerhorst


Surureal art is popular with intellectualists. This art style relies on incongruous and unusual images combined in strange juxtapositions to create striking and bizarre scenes. Where impressionists and expressionists evoke emotional responses, surrealists make people think about the scene that they are viewing. Strange and humorous stories suit surreal illustrations. One popular example of a book illustrated with surreal art is Willy and Hugh, which was both written and illustrated by Anthony Borwne.