Fashions Creatives in graphic design are just as prevalent as in the clothing industry

Trends come and go and then come again, taking advantage of technological advances to enhance, improve and delight advertisers and designers. The end game is the same – customer engagement

Back in 1921, Fred R. Barnard told Printers’ Ink that a picture tells a thousand words. He was right, and since that time, you rarely see an article published without a corresponding photograph or illustration. People respond to eye-catching images and are more likely to read an article, but does it matter if it is a photograph or an illustration? In real terms, photography has won the battle. Every cover of every fashion magazine shows a photograph, and inside, the war is waged between beautiful models, luxury handbags, expensive resorts, all touting the rich and famous lifestyle we all aspire to (ahem).

Photography is a skill that requires light, cameras, sets and models (or nature, just as capricious). The budget can be extortionate, which is why many editors, advertisers, and marketers are commissioning illustrations as an alternative. The advantages are far from limited to less financial investment. The illustration can tell a story in the way a photograph can’t. Infographics are a case in point. These are a graphic and visual representation of information, efficiently used by B2B companies, among others, to tell a story about their latest technology and the context around it. Combined with a few statistics, they are a powerful weapon in the marketer’s armoury. Illustrations are bound only by the imagination of the illustrator.

They are able to convey an abstract concept or idea and are not bound by the mundanities of reality. Different subjects have different uses. For example, you wouldn’t use an illustration if you needed an image of a serious business meeting. A photograph is well adapted to respond to this need. However, illustrations are generic where photographs are specific. A fantasy image not grounded in reality lends itself well to a graphic illustration where the reality does not even exist. Then again, if you are designing a website for a restaurant, some well-placed photos of the food can evoke mouth-watering levels of engagement in your potential clientele.

If your design strategy calls for a retro image, illustration still carries the can. Nothing says the 1950s like a line drawn image in the style of Coby Whitmore, Jon Whitcomb or even Lorraine Fox. A photo cannot encapsulate this combined with the ideas and concepts of modern-day marketers.

The Democratisation of the Photograph 

Another reason why the age of photography is having to accommodate a rise in the use of illustration is the smartphone and the use of social media. The combination of these two means that everyone’s a photographer and everyone has a platform to publish on. The photograph has become so commonplace that we can take one at any time. Use is also an important factor in the decision between photography and illustration. A vectorised image lends itself well to being adapted to different sizes and formats.

Colliding Worlds 

With the technology that we have available, it was only a matter of time before someone brought the world of illustration to photography. Justin Maller’s work at the 54th Grammy Awards “illustrated” how the combination of both skills could bring extra power and impact to an otherwise static photo, creating an explosion of colour and emotion. The photo-illustration was born. Whatever your preference, you need a trusted supplier with full knowledge of the specialist graphic stationery, inks, formats, and boards to transform your ideas into client pitches. Then into advertisements, shopfront decals, billboards, hoardings, car wraps, wallpaper, etc. Colyer London has over 95 years of experience working with agencies to support their photographic or illustration visions come to life. We’ve seen trends come and go and perfected our art of service to match your creativity and drive.

Thuy Nguyen

Author Thuy Nguyen

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