Illustrate with Words

by Rachelle Meyer


I love the written word. One of the reasons I chose to put “Dedicated Readers” in the spotlight in the Faces on the Ferry series is because I think they deserve attention, simply for choosing to absorb information in this thoughtful, patient way. A book, of course, is the traditional cherished object. But I’ll read anything put in front of me, even if it’s just a cereal box at breakfast.

“Book Lover (Valentine)” – sketch (14-2–2017)

When I go to exhibits and dutifully read the descriptions provided on the title cards, I often feel pushed further away from the artwork instead of being brought closer. I see a lot of multisyllabic words that obscure meaning rather than clarify it. I squint through the text to find the intention between the lines, but the only thread I pick up belongs to the emperor’s new clothes. It’s all puff and pomp, signifying little, and illuminating nothing.

As an illustrator, I often create images in the service of a text. If they do their job properly, illustrations not only help define a text, but add further value. They can and should be beautiful, thought-provoking, and multi-layered. I believe that when artists write texts describing our work, we should do the same. The text should act in service of the art, but it can also add more – if we dare.

Being earnest is not very cool. It is downright vulnerable. Who wants to lay open her heart, allowing the world to pick over its private intentions? Well, I will try.

Dedicated Reader #1 – winter collection

I hope that this art project brings people a sense of peace and communion. By tying together the still moments that people experience on a ferry ride with the larger scope of a year passing, I want to create a sense of awe at our small position in the universe. It’s ambitious and maybe even impossible, but I hurl myself at transcendence.

Let your words be clear and crystalline. Rather than covering your intention with a drift of snow, strive to make each word sparkle in its specificity. Illustrate your art with words.

Dedicated Reader #2 – winter collection

Rachelle Meyer is an illustrator and artist originally from Texas who came to Amsterdam 13 years ago by way of New York. She lives in Amsterdam Noord with her English husband, Dutch son, and two wild backyard bunnies.

The Faces on the Ferry installation can be seen through Nov. 17th in NDSM Fuse, NDSM-plein 85, Amsterdam Noord.

“The Knitter” – sketch (2-3-2017)