This was the theme of an illustration conference I attended on Thursday and, to be honest, it took me a while to work out what was meant by it.
Perhaps a more straight-forward term might be 'artistic integrity', because the conference revolved around the extent to which illustrators, whose work is by definition commissioned and art-directed by a client, can maintain their own 'voice' within the work they produce and to what extent we need to sustain private, non-commissioned work, to keep sight of who we are as creatives.
There were two illustrators speaking: Simon Spilsbury, whose work you will remember from the recent Cobra ads, and Andrew Foster, who caused some controversy with his commission to paint the windows at Liberty (top image).
It was particularly interesting to watch Simon drawing on the spot for us, explaining how his ideas evolve, starting with quick, simple sketches, which then spark visual associations, and suggest ways to link two different concepts together in a single image, as with this Comedy Festival poster.
A third speaker was Ben Cox from the CIA - no, not that CIA, but the Central Illustration Agency, who represent a vast and diverse range of illustrators, from Carol Lawson (above) to David Hughes (one my personal favourites):
It was lovely to be allowed to sit all day and be bombarded by a continuous stream of exciting illustrative images, and the debate afterwards was thought-provoking and hopefully inspiring to the many illustration students in the audience.
The conference was the first one arranged by Frazer Hudson, editorial illustrator and lecturer at Hallam University, but plans are already underway for next year's, so it looks set to become a regular feature on the calendar.