Case studies are a way of exploring the work of inspiring illustration and illustrators.
Investigations can reveal how marks were made, what medium was used and can give insight into expereinces and motivations of established artists.

Exploring examples is a crucial part of the research process.  E.H. Gombrich explains changes in style, through art history, as one consequence of artists learning from each other. Herring, et al. (2009) conclude, ‘… that examples are a cornerstone of creative practice …’

The following is a case study investigation into the work of Henrik Drescher.

Aims of research

The aim of this case study is to learn, for my own practice about methods and philosophies through examination of ideas, sketchbooks and finished work of an established and admired illustrator.
To do this, there is examination of a specific body of work, Henrik’s book Turbulence, published in 2001 and his sketchbook dummy mock up that he submitted to publisher Chronicle Books, prior to finalising the book.
Unless pecified all illustrations are the work of Henrik Drescher and avilable on his website. These give insight in to his ideas and methods.

Research methods
This research takes a phenomenological approach, looking at the qualitative aspects of Drescher’s work.

Through reviewing Drescher’s work and practising my own markmaking
I have started to test processes and begun to concentrate on making rather than outcomes.
This research is about beginning and beginning to become uninhibited.

Drescher has a kind of draw-on-everything, relaxed approach.
For my practice, I am curious about that, about the letting go, becoming uninhibited and progressing to finalised illustrations.
I like his ideas, his outcomes, some more than others. He creates unexpected works with an unrefined feel.
Drescher’s work also highlights examples of collaborative working with individuals, such as writer and translator Mary Jo Bang, and with business organisations, i.e. his work with Audi cars.

In his book Turbulence, Drescher begins the frontispiece with the words, “Being a complete and reliable descriptive collection of the perilous exploration and important discoveries made in the wildest territories upon the face of the earth.”
Here he examples an inelegant but exciting handwritten title with a myriad of other typographic styles. Yet there is cohesion on the page;other text is serif, some script, some photographic. The use of colour leads the eye down the page and creates a sense of adventure; he’s beginning to create turbulence.



The words and the styles are reminiscent of texts from eras of European empire building and the uncomfortable connotations that brings with it – for example, “Savage men and ferocious beasts”.

Drescher’s marks fill the pages of his sketchbooks; there is white space
but hand drawn grids bleed in to these as if to fill or soften the silences.
Lines are fine and sketchy and bodies are filled with marks, tattoo
like and he creates hand-drawn borders. Nothing is accurately
representational but nothing is abstract.


Drescher is a mixed media illustrator; he appears to favour line, pen and pencil. He mixes text, handwritten and typed with imagery – it all feels as if these drawings are of his thoughts and moods and enjoyment of
these. Drescher outlines, but not always with black. It is difficult to tell if he draws that way or if colours are changed digitally.

In interview Drescher describes making Turbulence. Each illustration is drawn in black and white, then printed on to acetate and painted on the back. He describes this as a laborious process but it gives a sculptural quality to illustration. He says this process is lost on his readers but that the essence of the energy comes through. Further on, he talks about refining and finishing a book as , “really hard”. Then he describes how ideas for books build slowly and germinate over years. He says we can only do what we have in us to do. By this he means he can only make what comes from within him. These are interesting insights in to book creation.
The whole interview with Just One More Book can be heard here:

Interview with Henrik Drescher

Drescher inpsires uninhibited drawing. He outlines his unusual processes for developing illustrations and they appear laborious, (he describes tham as such) but are a fascinating insight in to new methods of creative making.

Case studies can prompt experimental drawing. Here is my response to Drescher’s inspiration.

I began – freely drawing concentric circles of ripples. I was struck by the emphasis to the most human-like figure. The fish is subordinate but as an animal advocate illustrator I could experiment with scales ( no pun
intended ) to give the animals dominance on the page. I recognise how much I enjoy using ink pen and biro. I like how fine
pens can misfire and leave ragged trails. Thicker lines can help to give a more child reader friendly style.
I used what was to hand – a fine black biro, black ink, gold ink , a red crayon, a black marker pen, a white pencil, watercolour and soft flat acrylic brush. I included favourite elements of Sputnik (top right)
and stars and a badly scribbled spiral galaxy – without concerns for
repetition. Significantly I have here the kind of drawing I keep to myself – where I don’t know what will make an appearance when I start. This is the start of personal mixed media experimenting.

Herring, R., Chang, C., Krantzler, J., and Bailey, B.P., et al., (2009) Getting inspired!: understanding how and why examples are used in creative design practice [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2019]