In writing the blurb for the backcover of our new illustration annual I decided to focus on a problem we all face. Why not more illustration?
I’m often asked why art directors don’t use more illustration. And the truthful answer is that far too few know anything about illustration.
They’ve never been taught about their choices. When I was coming up through the ranks I knew I had three tools in my toolbox: photography, typography and illustration. Today’s educators emphasize only two of these tools. So young art directors have no clue that illustration exists and even if they do they are fearful of finding and working with an artist.
What will the client say?
How do I know what I’m going to get?
What if I don’t like what I get?
Here's what I tell art directors:
Finding illustrators is easy, you’ll generally find them in the same locations as photographers: in annuals, juried shows, galleries and publications.
Hiring them is easy, too. It’s really no different than hiring a photographer with one exception: You can work with the illustrator to develop the visual. And many times a much better one than you can imagine yourself.
In my day I’d always show the client something in the layout but made it clear that I was asking for other ideas from the illustrator. And it always worked, good clients will respect a better idea.
I tell art directors working with illustrators is fun, asking for ideas from someone whose job is visual imagery means you have an extra pair of hands and brain on tap.
Naturally being a subjective world there will be times when no one agrees and at that point everyone is back to square one. But take heart, illustrators will work with you to make it right.
Showing a comp photo leaves little to the imagination, making the leap of faith with an illustrator can mean you’ll end up with an even better idea.
And finally I say: Working with an illustrator may be something new for you but isn’t that a gamble you’re willing to make?