Nighthawks with zombies

What’s the difference between fine art and illustration?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. A general way of looking out it would be to say that their priorities are different. Both fine art and illustration use the same types of design elements. These are objective and quantifiable. The use of color, line, shape, texture, light, etc. and the way they are arranged to determine the composition are all things used by illustration and fine art. Again I’m just speaking generally here but when we look at fine art the focus tends to be on the usage of those elements whether there is an image in play or not. Whereas in illustration the general focus is on communicating a particular idea by using those elements.

In the case of fine art an image could very well tell a story, or illustrate an idea, an emotion, or whole slew of other things like political standing or deeper philosophical concepts. And in the case of illustration, truly beautiful artistic talent and design capabilities hopefully come into play. So I know I’m going to be stepping on a lot of toes when I say this and artists do tend to be very opinionated people when comes to the artwork they create and love but there is a difference between illustration and fine art even if it’s only in a general sense.

With that in mind consider these two images, the first, the famous 1942 painting Nighthawks by Edward Hopper,


And this painting showing the same scene only with zombies. (By Ostrander, a pretty awesome illustrator. Check him out here.)

First of all I should note that Nighthawks is one of the single most remade paintings of all time. It’s been repainted and remade with actors, musicians, aliens, monsters, you name it. The idea that it’s now been done with zombies isn’t so surprising. I don’t actually think this is the first time it’s been done.

And what’s the appeal?

Honestly I’m not a fan of the original. The painting itself seems to work better as an illustration, showing us a moment in time that most of us have experienced, bad, late night coffee when everything seems to be closed or we’re too strung out to care. A lot’s been said about the painting but it’s always struck me as an illustration first and painting second. When it comes to fine art I tend more towards people like Giotto, Piero Della Francesca, Caravaggio, etc.

Anyway, can you name all the zombies in this zombified version? I got most of them but the version of the image I’m looking at is low-res to the point that I can’t make out all of them. The one in the window of the building across the street and one of the zombies at the window of the cafe both appear to be Wormeye from Zombi 2. But I’m sure that’s not the case. (Incidentally, Bill Murray is my favorite.)


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Mike Kloran

Educational Designer from Brooklyn New York. I'm a teacher, an artist, an athlete and constantly doing, making, drawing, creating! It's a busy life but I'm doing what I love and that's what matters most to me!

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