Monday, April 23, 2007

James Akers

James AkersI’m constantly amazed at the way in which we, as artists, allow ourselves to be locked into restrictive little boxes by accepting and participating in an unspoken hierarchy of the artistic value of different genres of visual arts.

Those in the fine arts community, even within all of the strata it contains, look down on illustrators as “not artists”. Mainstream illustrators look down on science fiction and fantasy illustrators, who, in turn, look down on comics artists, and so on; stratification within stratification. By accepting these distinctions, we culture elements of mutual disdain to coddle our tender egos, in the process allowing ourselves to be classified and pigeonholed.

Not only is this unfortunate for individual artists, and the appreciation of different styles, it allows wonderful art to go ignored by those unwilling to cross boundaries within these strata. Fighting this tendency is actually at the core of what I try to accomplish with lines and colors, and I take particular delight in finding terrific visual art in areas that, while respected and valued within their own industry, are often ignored by the larger artistic community, like scientific, medical and botanical illustration, paleontological reconstruction art and entertainment industry concept art.

Closely related to the latter is the field of architectural rendering, in that it involves the imagining and visual conceptualization of things that don’t yet exist.

Unfortunately, this is a field where the convenience of 3-D CGI is replacing a lot of the traditional rendering with boringly adequate renderings of 3-D models. In the cases where the presentation requirements are more sophisticated, however, hand-drawn and painted renderings are still in demand.

What a delight it is to see a proposed architectural work portrayed, not as a blandly rendered CGI model, but as a fresh, clear ink and watercolor drawing, as in the beautiful work of James Akers.

Akers is an award winning architectural renderer whose work has been featured in shows for the American Society of Perspectivists and the New York Society of Renderers. His renderings (a convenient term in this case, as ink and watercolor works could easily be called either drawings or paintings) not only convey the appearance of the proposed structure, but have a refined sense of color and a superb feeling of texture, materials, place and atmosphere. If the buildings were not in the process of being imagined, you might assume that these were simply wonderfully precise works drawn and painted from life.

Akers has a knack for including just enough detail in the surrounding elements to make the proposed building fit seamlessly with its environment, while making it clear that the proposed structure is the highlight and subject of the image.

Akers works on a variety of projects and the galleries on his site feature renderings related to Hospitality and Entertainment, Institutions, Retail and Office, Sports and larger scale Planning and Urban Design. The highest resolution images, in which you can get the best feeling for his watercolor technique, are in the Recent Work section. (This is unfortunately displayed by way of a randomized script, so you may have to persevere through repeats of several images to see the larger variety.) There is also a Sketchbook section that includes travel sketches.

I would particularly encourage artists interested in concept design for the film and gaming industries to study the masterful way Akers handles the representation of structures and physical spaces in both linear and atmospheric perspective, and his naturalistic handling of the structures in their environment. (While you’re at it, also look at the work of Thomas Schaller).

3 thoughts on “James Akers

  1. peacay

    Fighting this tendency is actually at the core of what I try to accomplish with lines and colors

    That’s why I visit and I think we are probably alike at least in attitude in that regard. I’m always interested to see both what you find and what you think about it. I may not always be in agreement about subjective appreciation of specific artists/styles but my eyes have been opened up to a much wider spectrum of illustrative art by stopping by or catching the feed. So yeah, take this as my occasional input of thanks. [And the James Akers work is superb. I really like that.]

  2. james akers

    Wow, add me to that thanks!? After, what, 7 years…just seeing this thoughtful and generous post about my work. And to think I’ve just been trying to survive from one job to the next and not be exposed as a fraud ). Thank you for your kind words and please come back for more serious fun at the blog.

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