The flexibility of illustration as a design genre is both a boon and a handicap. For the artist, it opens up an almost infinite field of opportunities, yet it is also restrictive in that once he or she has been identified with a particular sub-set of illustration — fashion, say, or infographics — the harder it becomes to establish an individual personality within that subject-specific straitjacket.
In the following feature article, we have gathered together 45 creatives who specialise in illustration design across a whole variety of fields. They have shared their latest illustration works together with generous tips about the sort of mistakes that lie in wait for unwary young designers. Never copy or repeat an existing work, for instance, or begin by going back to basics and trying out initial ideas with pen or pencil sketches before fleshing them out digitally. To feel every stroke by hand and create a full concept and structure before moving to the computer is an oft-quoted recipe for success.
Featuring: Alfred Basha | Anthony Neil Dart | Antía Carbajo | blindSalida | Brian Rea | Daniel Aristizábal/Lazy Eyes | Daniel Savage | David Doran | The Drasik Studio | Elkanodata | Facultative Works | Guillaume Cornet | Icinori | James Gilleard Illustration/Animation | John Fellows | John Holcroft | Jon Juarez / Harriorrihar | Jose Mendez | Josh McKenna | Kadavre Exquis | Katarzyna Surman — Pusz | Kayankwok | Ksusha Iwazcool | Lucy Sherston | Marcus Walters | Mario Felipe / IAOEU | Mike Makatron (Everfresh Studio) | Mateusz Szulik | Mickael “Patiño” Brana | Mike Karolos / Smirap Designs | Nate Williams Creative | Nico189 | Ori Toor | Patryk Hardziej | Paul Woods | Peter Becker (Gotcha!) | Peter Greenwood | Sekonik / Dean Robert Smith | Sky Welkin / Derek Simon | Soyun Park | Suba Creative Studio | T.P. Vineeth | Thomas Weirich | WhatWeDo Copenhagen | Yu-Hsuan Wang
Deciphering the Language of Illustration
Fierce competition among artists was bound to lead to increasing specialisation and today almost every subject matter you can thinks of has its illustrative practitioners, from architecture to archaeology, medicine to science, botany to mechanics.
Most of them are graphic designers per se but they can all turn their hand to illustration when called upon and often have a distinctive style with which they are associated. The ideal is a combination of expertise in a particular field, an easily recognisable personal approach and an ability to translate a client’s commercial needs into attention-grabbing graphics with idiosyncratic illustrations. Achieving this blessed state takes many years of hard work and at least twice as many failures as successes, but the rewards are well worth it.