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Illustration and Animation faculty publishes book

Associate Professor Adam Osgood ’06 (Illustration), who teaches Illustration and Animation courses at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), will publish Motion Illustration: How to Use Animation Techniques to Make Illustrations Move through Bloomsbury in August 2024.

According to Bloomsbury, the book is “a broad introduction to the emerging world of moving illustrations, written specifically for those coming from an illustration background.” Extensively researched and full of contemporary examples and sample exercises, Motion Illustration posits that producing motion illustrations is achievable for anyone.

An award-winning illustrator, Osgood’s work focuses on motion-based illustration, specializing in portraits and GIFs for social media campaigns. His animated work has screened at international festivals, and he has directed music videos for artists such as Big Black Delta and Dhani Harrison.

The colorful cover of a book called Motion Illustration.

“Motion Illustration” (Bloomsbury, 2024)

A gif of a person with pink hair walking in a flowing, colorful coat

Adam Osgood, “Fashion Illustration.” 

A 3-panel gif of a man sleeping in bed, falling from the sky, then waking up from his dream.

Adam Osgood, “Three-Panel Comic.”

In an interview with MIAD, Osgood explored teaching, professional practice and getting published:

How did your teaching practice influence writing Motion Illustration, and vice versa?

My focus as an educator and illustrator has always been at the intersection of animation and illustration. These two disciplines are often taught separately, but illustrators have been incorporating motion in their work for a couple decades now, and I think every illustrator needs to be able to do a little bit of animation to be competitive in the marketplace. In class, I love showing examples to my students of illustrators doing animated work, and animators doing illustrative work. The book collects examples from the portfolios of professional illustrators, like Lily Padula, Cindy Suen and Yukai Du; discusses how they use animation in their work; and asks them to describe how they fit into the world of commercial arts.

The book also features a chapter with sample exercises and projects to either get started, or build an animated portfolio. All of these projects came out of coursework that I’ve developed over the past 15 years. For example, the “Three-Panel Comic” is something I asked MIAD’s first year students to do as the first assignment in “The Illustrated Animated GIF” elective course I taught in 2020 and 2021. It’s a fantastic introduction to motion, because it’s entirely about illustrative thinking. How can you sequence three images together to tell a quick story? There’s no concern about complicated animation software, or the need to draw hundreds of frames of animation. Plus, this is all transferrable thinking skills for other types of sequential illustration, like comics or picture books.

What was the background and process of deciding to write this book?

I’ve spoken at the ICON Illustration Conference’s Education Symposium twice on the topic of teaching animation to illustrators, and also wrote a chapter called “The Blurry Intersection of Illustration and Animation” for the book The Theory and Practice of Motion Design (Routledge 2018). The book is, in many ways, an expansion of these shorter papers into something comprehensive and written directly with illustrators in mind. Motion Illustration is published by Bloomsbury Visual Arts, and one of their editors, Louise Baird-Smith regularly attends ICON, and contacted me after my presentation in 2018 about writing a complete book.

As far as the writing process, the book discusses motion illustration both from historical and contemporary angles. Since the writing largely revolves around the images in the book, the first part of the process was securing image rights for every picture that I wanted to discuss. That took about a year, and then as I received permission to print certain images, I began writing about them. Of course, I also had to do a significant amount of historical research to understand enough about the separate histories of illustration, graphic design, film, gaming, animation, and technology to decide what historical markers were the most important to discuss in the context of illustrators using motion on a mass scale.

My colleagues here at MIAD graciously helped review the history chapter—Chris Szczesny-Adams, Christiane Grauert, and Lou Morton all vetted the first draft and provided some great additional examples.

Anything else you’d like to add about Motion Illustration or your experience teaching at MIAD?

MIAD just graduated its first group of Animation Track students in May, and it’s been an honor to work with our students as they dip their toes into animation. We live in a world full of digital screens—I know our students are going to thrive with their toolset as storytellers and motion-makers.

Motion Illustration is available August 8th from Bloomsbury, and the companion site at motillu.com features a number of links to the portfolios of professional illustrators that work with animation.

Keep up with Osgood on his website, explore Motion Illustration on its dedicated website and learn more about MIAD’s Illustration and Animation majors!

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