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Does the illustrator only illustrate storybooks? Misconceptions about illustration

The role of illustration

You've probably wondered what exactly an illustrator does. What kind of projects do he or she take on? Does an illustrator only draw storybooks? What kind of work does he or she do every day? In my last post I explored this topic, but here I want to go into it in more detail. Let's see!

As you may have already known from my last blog post, illustrators are responsible for creating artwork that can be used in various projects such as packaging, publishing, web design, branding, fashion or even advertising. In addition to aesthetics and creativity, it is important that the illustration is clear and evokes a certain emotion in the target audience.

Six examples on illustration: stationery, packaging design, tea packaging design, postcards, Valentine-Day card, journal cover, home decoration.
Here we can see some different examples on stationery, packaging design and home decoration.

In this blogpost I would like to show you what an illustrator does through six misconceptions.

Does the illustrator only illustrate books?

Illustration is not a new thing, we already have examples from the 15th century, think of the Bibles and codices illustrated by monks. Illustration is an extremely diverse industry, with different forms. Think of fashion, home decoration or any advertising material. Illustrations are also present in the online world and in any kind of print material, such as magazines or books.

Illustration is not just limited to storybooks, as it can be found in many places. More serious forms of illustration can include illustrations for medical and other scientific textbooks.

The creativity of the illustrator can be emphasised in these images: they contribute to the richness of visual culture and the world of arts.

You can see here some examples of the illustration industries:

Some other examples on illustration: fashion illustration, T-shirt design, home decor pattern, storybook illustration, stamp design, scientific or medical illustration.
Some other examples on illustration: fashion illustration, T-shirt design, home decor pattern, storybook illustration, stamp design, scientific or medical illustration.

Is illustration a part of graphic design?

Often, illustration is confused with graphic design, but they are two different fields. Illustration and graphic design are two separate but closely intertwined professions.

Graphic designers interpret and process information visually using a variety of digital elements such as typography, graphic elements, composition or colour. Graphic designers do not necessarily need hand-drawn drawings to do their work.

3 examples on the difference between illustration and graphic design: logo design, sketching on paper, digital production

However, an illustrator creates images that communicate emotions and are produced in some kind of aesthetic, creative approach. In many cases, the illustrator actually draws by hand on paper, or starts work digitally.

3 examples on illustration: stationery design, food illustration, sketchbook illustration

But let's look at an example right away! Take this book cover:

J. R. R. Tolkien - The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings - Part Two) cover

It's a good example of when the two professions merge. In this book cover, the illustrator has digitally created the illustration on the cover. Other parts of the cover, such as choosing the right font and colours and placing the text, deciding on the hierarchy of negative and positive spaces, are done by the graphic designer and not by the illustrator.

In summary, graphic designers focus on the representation of information, while illustrators focus on storytelling, the expression of emotions and the development of a unique visual style.

Graphic designers use a set of rules in their design, while illustrators take a more artistic approach, creating a unique visual world.

Do illustrations only support the text?

Another misconception is that illustrations are only for entertainment purposes. In fact, illustrations play a major role in education and in various scientific disciplines, helping to make complex concepts and processes easier to understand.

Illustrations can be found in medical and biological textbooks, history books and school textbooks. But we don't need to associate them with school, because magazines and newspapers are also often using illustrations, just look up some articles about eating disorders or the difficulties of renovating a house.

3 examples on scientific illustration: medical and botanical illustrations

Illustrations can be really useful to make the text easier to understand. Illustrations help students and other interested people to understand the subject in depth and make reading easier.

Do illustrators only work with digital tools?

In this digital era, illustrators can no longer just draw and paint on paper. They can make use of the latest digital tools, which can make the workflow easier.

There are projects where traditional illustration has little place. Think of animation, video games, virtual reality or other interactive tools. The use of these tools opens up new dimensions for illustrators.

But don't think that there is no place in the world for artists who follow traditional illustration: pencil on paper has its own charm and the process of creating can be different. In most cases, such illustrations can just as easily be digitised and used in the online space or anywhere else without any problems.

But one thing is certain: for the illustrator, digital post-editing is slowly becoming unavoidable, unless he or she is selling original work. Most projects end with the illustrator delivering the finished work to the client in a digital file format, which is then used either digitally or in print.

3 examples on illustration: fashion industry with T-shirt design, pattern design on some fabric, illustration on a mug

Is an illustration just a simple drawing?

Illustrating is not just a matter of choosing an object from a text and putting it on the page as it is. It is not just an art form that accompanies texts, but also tells its own unique stories. Illustrations can become an integral part of the work and can be on an equal footing with the text, or even go beyond it.

Don't just think of them as an addition. In fact, going further, there are books that have no text, just illustrations. These are called silent books. In this case, the visual elements are so powerful that they do not require explanation or any text.

Példák az illusztrációra a könyvkiadásból: illusztrált borítójú ifjúsági regény, kislány mesekönyvet néz, iskolásoknak való illusztrált mesekönyv

The visual language that the illustrator creates through his or her images contributes to the visual world.

I know it's easy to always mention books, but this can be equally true of scientific illustrations, which add something extra to serious, complex texts. But take the illustrations on clothing, which all want to convey a mood, a feeling. Current fashion trends and the expectations of the target audience can have a big influence on the patterns we see on T-shirts, bed linen or decorative items.

Is illustration just for fun?

Illustration is not only important from an aesthetic point of view, it can also carry powerful social messages. Illustrators often use their talents to draw attention to current social, political or cultural issues.

The messages and symbols in the artworks help to shape thinking and even inspire change. These images are not only eye-catching, but can also become tools for social dialogue.

In short, illustrations can be found in a wide range of artistic disciplines and fields, and their creativity is unlimited. Illustration is much more than a supplement to texts, an image in storybooks or funny pictures on T-shirts. It is a vibrant, dynamic art form that plays a prominent and indispensable role in many fields.

If you are curious to see what an illustrator's life is like, you can do so on my social media platforms:

The source of the images: Unsplash


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