Many of the top graphic designers in the 20th century were also illustrators. This is because back in the day, graphic design and illustration were synonymous, combining typography and engaging imagery in one hit. There was a deep respect for the talent and skill involved in creating an image by hand, and also in the way that it reflected the illustrator’s own style and gave the work its own distinct personality.
Nowadays, most graphic designers and clients alike are more business-minded and driven by the digital age – the focus is on strategy, branding and breaking through in the marketplace, rather than individual expression. However, the technology that helps produce the sleek and shiny visual styles we’re used to seeing nowadays means that a great deal of the design out there is often anonymous and missing that personal touch.
Thankfully there are some design trends emerging that embrace illustration – hand-drawn typography is extremely popular at the moment, celebrating its imperfection and the strong sense of personality this creates. We’re also seeing more and more advertising campaigns that are swapping out stock photography for illustration to give their brand that extra dose of individuality.
Although the personal touch is a wonderful thing, it’s become clear that traditional pencil-and-paper illustration may not always be practical in this fast-paced digital era. While it can still work beautifully for some projects, clients often prefer the ease and flexibility of computer-based design. Luckily illustration has well and truly moved into the digital world, as many illustrators now create their work using a Wacom tablet (a professional drawing tool that is commonplace in design studios and agencies) which is completely digital and therefore 100% editable – very handy when a client comes back with a long list of changes.
As an example, recently Algo Mas was asked by a client to illustrate some “ambassadors” for their new campaign as the people photographed for the last campaign were not received well by the community. We came up with a suite of digital semi-realistic illustrations that were completely editable, and were created in Illustrator as fully scalable vector images. They went down a treat with client and target market alike – a perfect example of illustration being used to its full potential and in this instance, even more successfully than photography.