Role of the graphic style of an illustration on young readers
For the master seminar “Image & Word” (Lefèvre) four Graphic Design-students (Blossom Aerts, Nele Indestege, Anne Froyen en Lore Parade) conducted an exploratory empirical experiment on the role of the graphic style of an illustration on a narrative. Therefore they used four pages from a flemish youth book “Momo en de tijdspaarders” (M. Ende, 1973) that contained one illustration. In the second version they left out the original illustration and in a third version they replaced the original illustration by new one in a quite different style (but with the same mise en scène).
25 young participants (between the age of 16 and 25) received one of the three versions and after having read their example they had to respond to a questionnaire. The results showed that the more the participants were heavy readers, the lesser they expressed a preference for illustrated books. Those persons remembered also better details of the text (with or without the illustration).
The interpretations of the light readers that preferred illustrations, on the other hand, were strikingly more influenced by the style of the illustration. On the whole they described an item in the text (like a chair, that was mentioned without further details) more in line with the style of the illustration. So the effect of graphic style seems to have a bigger influence on light readers. A possible explanation might be that light readers do not read a text very carefully and maybe spend more time on the illustration, but further experiments are needed to clear this out.