Illustration is a medium that straddles self-expression and interpretation of outside materials. Unlike drawing and painting that is derived from points of inspiration wholly determined by the artist, illustration is a collaborative exercise, asking that an artist visualize aspects of another’s story, while still maintaining her own perspective and visual style. UK-based illustrator Rosanna Tasker conveys a masterful sense of her own interests and voice, even as her imagery illustrates subject matter that varies from Guardian articles on transportation and healthcare to a Spanish-language translation of The Art of War.
“I’ve always hoped that creativity would form a large portion of my life, but traditional fine art didn’t ever feel like the right fit with my identity as an artist,” said Tasker in an email interview with Hyperallergic. “When I was presented with the idea of pursuing illustration, I couldn’t believe that such a perfect avenue existed and how much it made sense for me. A large amount of my childhood was ruled by words, imagery and imagination; drawing scenes and characters while my dad read to me, building worlds and stories with friends in the form of books, theatrical plays and games. Illustration feels like a wonderful amalgamation of those things, and it’s incredible to still spend my days conjuring and creating as an adult.”
Tasker pursued her education in illustration at University of the West of England, Bristol, and has gone on to provide imagery for the New York Times, the Guardian, and Tangent Books, among others. Her perennial themes include near future quasi-utopias, gardening, and women at the work of daily living, and her characters play out their stories against landscapes that manage to be clean, but richly detailed. Tasker also leverages the power of color and tone to strike instant moodiness through a given tableau, adding weight to the overall whimsy and vibrancy of her style.
“Many of the themes running through my illustrations today have roots in my childhood; I was lucky to live in the countryside with very little technology growing up, so I think much of my work draws from that era of my life and celebrates the freedom of exploring nature, as well as the significance of connecting with our environment and nurturing the flora and fauna around us,” said Tasker. “I especially love using my illustrations as a portal to another place, whether based in reality or far from it. My personal work usually has an unwritten background beyond the image and often aims to show you a snippet of a story which you’re free to augment and continue in your head, or sometimes to invite you on a journey somewhere unknown to get happily lost, or perhaps simply to evoke a feeling or atmosphere that I felt painting it.”
In addition to her Instagram, web-based print shop, and prints and cards available on Etsy, Tasker has limited-edition prints currently for sale at Toi Gallery, where they are part of the Women’s Show, featuring the work of female artists.
“Illustration can be so inclusive and liberating, and being a good illustrator comes in so many different shapes and colours, which is one of the things I love most about it,” said Tasker. “It’s so rich with potential beyond the physical imagery, and can do and say so much.”