Bill Bragg is a British artist and illustrator. He has worked with The Folio Society, The Guardian and The New York Times. He is a co-founder and member of the art collect, Le Gun. As such, he regularly exhibits internationally and features in the group’s self-titled annual magazine.
Bragg was working for many years as a freelance illustrator before he decided to apply to the Royal College of Art in 2003. During his two years at the RCA, he began experimenting with and developing sequential narratives. After a visit to East Berlin, he came up with a story of a man unable to turn left from his front door for three decades. This idea developed into a wordless graphical novel called ‘Journey of a Stranger’ which was shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Graphic Novelist Awards.
In 2004, while at the RCA, Bragg helped establish Le Gun alongside Chris Bianchi, Neal Fox, Robert Rubbish, Steph von Reiswitz, Alex Wright and Matt Appleton. Originally, Le Gun was a magazine where the group could publish their works and other exciting artists. The magazine is now an established art annual and the group is internationally renowned for their art projects and shows.
Bragg graduated from the RCA in 2005 and has since worked with many publications in the UK and the USA. He has illustrated four of Franz Kafka’s works for The Folio Society; Amerika, The Trial, The Castle and my personal favourite, Metamorphosis.
Bragg’s work for The Guardian article ‘But Today I am Afraid’ won the this year’s V&A Editorial Illustration Award. The article, written by Masuma Rahim, expresses the author’s fear of a backlash against innocent Muslims. Bragg perfectly captures the isolation and uncertainty. The V&A praised Bragg’s work for:
His choice of the imperilled lone figure in a headscarf employs the use of outsized shadows, a well-known device adapted from film-noir cinematography. Here it is applied with brilliant effect, creating a striking composition that at once captures the author’s sense of persecution while drawing our focus towards the defenceless figure in the centre of the circle.
This heightened understanding of loneliness and foreboding is prevalent in much of Bragg’s work. He regularly exaggerates shadows, often rendering them pure black, to create a burgeoning sense of unease. In addition, his use of traditional pencils, digital colours and screen printed effects, enhances the gritty imagery.