I received my BFA in Illustration in 1985. Then moved to NYC and took classes at the Art Students League of NY with Marshall Glasier, a very brilliant and talented artist who did not see illustration as art.
Not to scandalize all my illustrator friends, whom I admire and respect, but I understood his point. Art is where you can make anything you want in any way you want. Illustrators work within parameters: of the text or the concept or whatever your client is looking for. Of course lots of amazing art happens within those parameters (Beatrix Potter! William Steig!) But there is a difference.
I gave up on being an illustrator so I could be a 'real' artist. I painted in the lonesomeness of my studio, which was usually just a corner of my bedroom. I took lots more classes. Did alot of figure drawing and self-portraits. Morphed into an abstract painter. And had a kid.
And rediscovered picture books. Drew my kid. Decided I'd like to get paid for what I do well (instead of working as a secretary, teacher's aide, jeweler's assistant, and on and on) So I bought a new set of rapidographs (and they did look beautiful to my eyes) and put together a portfolio. Starting to get some work. Featured on the wonderful Pen & Palette. Have several illustrations in the SCBWI Bulletin.
So what am I now? A painter who is delving into illustration? An illustrator who used to be an abstract painter? A little bit of both, I guess. I have to admit, I do miss dripping and throwing paint onto canvas (I suppose I could do that in my illustrations, but it's not the same-- art serves its own purpose, unlike illustration)
You might disagree with me. That happens sometimes. You may believe there is no difference between fine art and illustration. I think there is a difference-- for example, most illustrators I know who've been working for a good number of years and have talent, get paid for what they do, at least sometimes. Unlike most of the painters I know.
So go ahead and tell me why I'm wrong, if you want. Or you can just enjoy the picture.