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But is it art? : the construction and valuation of illustration in Victoria's Island Illustrators Society

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posted on 2021-06-08, 12:22 authored by Shannon Jaleen Grove
In Canada, illustration, commercial art, and conservative, traditional art are often spoken of as separate from and opposite to "non-commercial", "contemporary art", a division I argue stems from the older distinction between art and craft but one that can be subverted. Using concepts from Gowans, Greenhalgh, Mortenson, Shiner, and Bourdieu's theory of the field of cultural production, this thesis traces the sociology and art history of the division between traditional and modern art that led to the formation of the Island Illustrators Society in 1985 in Victoria, British Columbia. I argue illustration is an original, theoretical art form indistinguishable from but alienated by contemporary art, that conservative art is neither static nor irrelevant, and that non-commercial contemporary art is a misnomer. I find the Society challenged the definitions of art and illustration by promoting illustrative fine art and by transcending binary oppositions of conservative and contemporary, commercial and non-commercial.





Master of Arts


Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


Thesis Advisor

Edward Slopek