Research 2 – Architectural Illustrators

Research Point 2 – page 55 – comparing architectural illustrators

Look at a range of different architectural illustrators and identify how their choice of drawing approach, perspective and materials relates to the architecture itself.  These choices might support the underlying ideas behind the buildings, for example glossy images used by a developer to suggest the idea of luxury.  Or you might find examples where you think illustrators have used approaches that seem at odds with the spaces they’re representing.

Pick a range of examples and write a short critical statement (50-200words) on each of them outlining your observations. (page 55 has website links)

Carlo Stanga

His work is astonishingly beautiful.  He has a fresh perspective to a city landscape and opts for a clean line but not a traditional architecturally accurate drawing.  His draughtman skills are obvious in the drawings but he plays with the line and gives it life.  What I find is that his expression of the space he is drawing is injected with a life and energy that conveys a lot more than just the space.  His approach is very much an illustrator’s interpretation of the building, but he can also give a true representation of the space in a more structured fashion.  However, his choice of colours and even the characters expressed in the people around the building all serve to tell a story, rather than just convey the concept of the building.  His work definitely breathes life into the idea.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

By comparison, Ludwig had an amazingly sleek and imposing design in his concepts.  His work was done largely in black and white, and his use of charcoal created a strong and imposing mood in the concept design.  His sketch of the proposal for the skyscraper in Berlin in the 1920s was futuristic and quite overwhelming.  It wasn’t picked but the design is something that would not be out of place in any modern city.  The way in which he used pencil and charcoal to achieve this dramatic effect definitely demanded the viewer to pay attention.  Rather than capturing the energy of the space or a sense of the city, he was creating a new potential for how the future could look.  He had a vague quality to the lines drawn which had a city in the clouds type of feel and that dream like quality gave the impression that we were capturing a glimpse of some magnificent future.

Syd Mead

Syd was a science-fiction illustrator and he created worlds that were far into the future for movies.  His concept art has influenced architects and his love of architecture is expressed through the range of influences injected into his work.  He merged various inspirations from the Byzantine and Mayan architecture and then added some American influences into it.  They classified it as retro deco and trash chic.  His approach to the illustrations was a mix of how Ludwig and Carlo approached their drawings, he brought them to life with colour and the imposing quality came from the scale and sheer newness of the forms the buildings took.  Overall, you are drawn into a world that doesn’t exist, but Syd had given so much energy to the details that you feel that it does exist already or at least that it is how the future will be.  His bright tones in blues, pinks, and purples, often portray the future hope of a better life.  The strong yellow, greens and then muddy colours with a strong contrast, convey places that have been lived in for a long time, have a murky past or a shady character.  He used stronger and darker colours to indicate the buildings and areas in the shadier parts of a city and the lack of real light suggested that they were downtrodden.  The brighter and lighter colours indicated wealth, progress, and a cleaner way of living.  Blade Runner was a great expression of his vision.


Curbed (2019) Goodbye Syd Mead: A conversation with the artist who illustrated the urban future.

[accessed 11th May 2021]

Secret city travel — Berlin, The architectural icon that was never built

[accessed 11th May 2021]

Portfolio (2021) Carlo Stanga

[accessed 11th May 2021]

Carlo Stanga (2021) Nice to meet you SEA

[accessed 11th May 2021]