Monday, July 28, 2008

The "Wow" Factor: Paul Nonnast

As I flip through old magazines and come across illustrations from the mid-century that I think will provide the inspiration in this blog's title, I see a lot of good work by a lot of talented artists.

But every once in a while I come across a piece that stops me in my tracks.

What is that quality in a piece of art that really grabs the viewer's attention? How does an already accomplished illustrator push the picture a little higher and make the viewer go, "Wow!"

There are many ways to make a powerful visual impression on the brain. Contrast is one of them. In this piece, Paul Nonnast certainly exploits the use of contrast very effectively. Contrast both in terms of light and shade and in terms of subject matter...

Interesting or unexpected juxtaposition of subject matter is an effective way of making the brain tingle. A panoramic view of a starry sky or a low angle shot of a mailman might or might not be interesting on their own -- but juxtaposed as they are here, they make us wonder what the heck's going on. Our brains aren't used to seeing mailmen standing over us as we stare up into the night sky.

There are plenty of other devices an artist can use to up the "Wow" factor of a piece. This week we'll look at some. Five artists, five days, five pieces... emphasis on the "Wow" factor!

My Paul Nonnast Flickr set.


  1. Anonymous3:04 PM

    Start with the upper left, catch the flow of the milky way stars, they slide on down through the pointing highlight on the brow of the face, on down and through to the right of the outer edge of the arm, on down and back up around, coming up on the left side of the other sleeve and arm, through the 'point of interest' the bright white envelope, through to the cheek highlight, this time pointing to the eye and expression of the post man looking at you.
    There are other diagonals that move your eye towards the postman and the letter, that capture the story.
    Randy Ranson

  2. Anonymous3:41 PM

    He's illustrated THE LETTER everyone expects to receive one fine day.