Breathing Life into a Character: Conceptual Tools for Understanding the Relationship between Illustrator and Character Design

By Ari Chand.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Theory and History

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: January 21, 2016 $US5.00

Illustrators embody their experiences. The personification of experience is a fundamental device in the way illustrative imagery and visual communication perpetuates ideologies, metaphors, mythologies, and in particular the anthropomorphisation of the human condition. Illustrators translate experiences, and the perceptual synthesis (Merleau-Ponty 2013) of those experiences into the illustration and design of fictitious narratives, worlds, characters, and environments. Drawing becomes a crucial part of articulating the world and capturing perception of experience and reality. Audiences can relate to the experiences of designed characters through observed similarities with their own experience. If we take the understanding that individuals tacitly negotiate the world, and their interactions with other people, through interpretation of aesthetics, physiology, psychology, socio-economic class and culture- then the design of characters that exhibit a range of these factors can help define a reflexive relationship between the illustrator, the character, and the audience. This paper will examine the implicit role an illustrator’s habitus (Bourdieu 1977) has in the development of their characters, and provide conceptual tools that outline this unique relationship. Habitus is a unifying concept that generates tastes and dispositions based on an individual’s physiology, psychology and sociology.

Keywords: Habitus, Tacit Knowledge, Illustration, Design, Experience, and Perception

The International Journal of Arts Theory and History, Volume 11, Issue 2, June, 2016, pp.1-11. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: January 21, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 812.264KB)).

Ari Chand

PhD Candidate, School of Design Communication and IT, Faculty of Science and Information Technology, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia