If you’ve ever chuckled at a hilariously bad TripAdvisor review, or gasped in disdain at an unfairly reviewed beloved restaurant, Ian Moore’s An Illustrated Guide To Bad TripAdvisor Reviews perhaps brings even more joy than those cutting comments. A definite guilty pleasure to read, Bristol-based Ian put in hours of trawling through bad reviews on the site, selecting the most outrageous and most amusing reviews to characterfully illustrate in a recently self-published zine.
The whole project started off with a rather personal twist. Similar to many budding illustrators, Ian’s been working part-time in hospitality while kickstarting his career in the creative industry. “There was plenty of fuel for this project," he tells It’s Nice That on the matter. “But it was a particular review involving a misunderstanding between me and a very drunk customer that initially sparked the project.” This review in question didn’t make the final cut for the publication as it was “quite dull”, but it sparked a satirical wave of creativity in the illustrator, going onto develop a visual language filled with humour which has since become a prominent theme in Ian’s work.
“I think I get a deep sense of enjoyment, visually poking fun at something," continues the illustrator. Predominantly using ink, Ian also drops in scanned textures such as netting or foil packaging into his illustration post-production. Originally studying graphic design, Ian hints to the caricaturist style of drawing in the exaggerated proportions of his disgruntled characters. In one illustration titled Bleach, Ian comedically depicts a scathing review surrounding bleach in the food.
“I found this casual throwaway accusation that a chef may have put bleach in the food by accident pretty funny," says Ian. He tried quite a few different ideas to depict this uncomplimentary review. “One of my favourites illustrated a bottle of bleach on a spice rack almost spilling out into a meal, but I couldn’t make it work. So I stripped the elements down to the bare essentials including a look of disgust on the customer’s face as they thought about bleach in their food.”
And in the end, the illustrator evaluated that this stripped-back method of communicating reviews worked most successfully in conveying the tone and message of each review. “It avoids confusion and the reader gets the idea almost instantaneously,” adds the illustrator. Once Ian selected the reviews to illustrate, he would then assess the fundamental narrative behind the comments. Asking himself “Are there two sides to this story?” as well as “If and where, is there humour in this review?”, Ian then sketches out some thumbnails of how the final illustration will look, paying close attention to how the idea comes across while ensuring a dynamically expressive composition.
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