Illustrating the Future

Plotting a crowd-sourced, sort-of ghost story about the future of VR makes for some lively banter.
To wit:

As the story takes shape, we turned to Melissa Gay to give us some options for the art that will accompany our strange tale.

“Considering the unique perspective of our protagonist and their relationship with the simulacrum, this story could be enhanced by any one of these choices. The use of media and the styles are different, but their commonality is that they all stir within me a feeling of being in another world, at once the same and yet quite alien to the one we inhabit.

When I was a child, I practically lived in the woods behind my house, and I often imagined that every time I walked between two closely-growing trees, or under a grapevine arch, that it might be a portal to a fairyland! But fairylands in actual myth and legend are not always bright and happy places, and in fact they’re often places of dark danger for any mortal who stumbles in. These artworks make me feel like I have stumbled into such a place– will it be wonderful, or will it prove to be a horror? Only the unfolding narrative (and ultimately, you, our readers) will let us know!”

1. Dreamlike dark fantasy (Charcoal or pencil)

Examples: Chris Van Allsburg, Aron Wiesenfeld, Tony diTerlizzi

This style is characterized by a child’s-eye perspective, 3-dimensional feel, full spectrum of grays from rich black all the way to white, soft shading, and strong shadows



2. Tronie (Oil or acrylic paint)

Examples: Jan Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pearl Earring,” Frans Hals’s
“Gypsy Girl,” and Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa,” Melissa Gay’s “Medusa At

This style is characterized by models, often in costume, sometimes with exaggerated facial expression.


3. Stylized Gothic surrealism (Ink)

Examples: Edward Gorey, Audrey Niffenegger, Aubrey Beardsley, John
Kenn Mortensen, David Roberts

This style is characterized by flatness, stylized proportions, strong outlines, unnerving content,  andshading with lots of tiny lines



4. Art Nouveau Poster (Watercolor or gouache)

Examples: Alphonse Mucha, Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, Jules Cheret

This style is characterized by beautification of everyday objects, ornamentation with dynamic lines, often with delicate patterns inspired by vines,
flowers, leaves, insect wings, or other items from nature. It is a flat, decorative patterning, but with a rhythm of line that gives these posters power.



5. Regionalist Realism (Oil paint)

Example: Andrew Wyeth
This style is characterized by drawing inspiration from one’s surroundings, the land and the people. Meditative, borderline surrealism within realism.
Abstract quality of shapes within a landscape, people treated as part of the landscape rather than as superior to it.