Client: Nieuwe Revu / Pijper Media
This week I got another illustration in Dutch magazine Nieuwe Revu! In my opinion this needs a little explanation, so if you enjoy these images, please read further.
The article is about bizarre situations in the ISIS Caliphate: An article with a slightly cynical tone of voice that makes ‘fun’ of the jihadists in Syria that came from abroad. In other words: Jihadi bully-bashing.
Of course the situation over there is horrendous but personally I didn’t feel much for the article, as I think that every bit of negative media about muslims and Islam over there feeds a negative stereotyping of ordinary well willing civilians in our society over here. Even if the content is about brutal and senseless idiots that murder in the name of their beliefs.
What I did find interesting was: Where do I find myself as an professional editorial illustrator in the midst of this worldly conflict? A conflict where I personally think we should be sceptic about on our own use of media as a form of propaganda. How do I make an illustration about an article that is heavily confronting an issue where I have fundamental doubts about. Should I just leave it, or should I use this to discover my own borders as an illustrator and search for a way to work with my own personal ideals and beliefs vs. the authors? These inner confrontations really made me want to illustrate this.
Obviously the article made use of Islamic references and I didn’t fancy to illustrate any of that at all. I heavily resented the idea to illustrate ‘What a bunch of dumb muslims’. I told the magazine that there was only one way that I would illustrate this: To take out ANY aspect of the islamic religion out of this article.
Instead of illustrating ‘What a bunch of dumb muslims’, I would strive for ‘What a bunch of dumb dudes.’
They agreed, and so I did.
At first sight I’ve made an ISIS rendition of the Rambo II: First Blood cover, and a sad fat boy that wants to be just like him. But the second layer is more for you to think about.
Who is holding the responsibility? The child that eats a poisonous berry, or the person that shows him where to pluck it? Who is harming the world more? The boy that believes this glorifying image or the media that is spreading this?
The following needs to be said tho. I’m giving a huge thank you to Nieuwe Revu for respecting my point of view and for giving me the space to do these kind of illustrations, without any hesitation. Also an additional big up to them for agreeing with my thoughts! Altho this wasn’t my favourite article, I really love working for them in general.
To me this was another exciting episode in my career where I find myself struggling with ethics. A matter where visual artists these days should take more time to think, I believe.
That being said, I feel bad for the loving people that need to justify their beliefs because of the actions of other individuals. They shouldn’t need to do that.. And actually, we shouldn’t think in terms of ‘we’ and ‘them’ or ‘they’ anymore. We should start thinking only about ‘we’, as we humans are all ‘we’.
Ah well, I believe we’ll get there tho, all in time and experience. Thank you for reading this.
Respect and Peace.