Stage Door News

Toronto: Scott McKowen, creator of so many beautiful theatre posters, releases book “Light Revealed”

Monday, December 5, 2022

Scott McKowen is a renowned and prolific scratchboard artist who has worked in the medium for more than four decades. His illustrations have been featured in hundreds of books, magazines, theater posters and comic books. He may be best known for illustrating Neil Gaiman's Marvel Comics series 1602 and for several titles in the Sterling Unabridged Classics children's book series, as well as theater posters that capture the essence of plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Molière and other great playwrights.

"McKowen is a scratchboard master, creating theater posters and book covers of fantastic clarity, shrewd wit and subtle mystery. McKowen's mastery of line and texture, gift for arresting juxtapositions and perspectives, and fluency in drawing the human figure make for complex and breathtaking images that are at once old-fashioned and cutting edge."

--Booklist on McKowen's 2009 retrospective, A Fine Line

"It's hard to decide what's cooler about Scott McKowen's poster art: the astonishing, elegant design and linework, or the way he tips your preconceptions on their head and does something unexpected with every assignment. Luckily, we do not have to make a choice. It's all here."

--Neil Gaiman

Scratchboard artists use sharp instruments to etch lines into a board support layered with white chalk, silver foil and black ink to expose the white and grey surfaces underneath. Color, if used, is then added to make a spectacular work reminiscent of traditional woodcutting but as rich and dynamic as any full color painting. Because it is a reductive process – you cannot fix mistakes – it is considered one of the most difficult artistic techniques.

In Light Revealed, scratchboard master artist Scott McKowen builds on his 2009 retrospective, A Fine Line, with a personal selection of more than 150 new works. He gives a detailed analysis of each piece and describes what influenced his design. He includes images of the reference works he consulted during the conceptual process and talks about the struggles he had arriving at a design solution. He also discusses the influence and advantages of technological developments, such as Photoshop, which have carried the medium into the 21st century

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