Working with an Illustrator: Do I need one? How do I find one? And what’s a ‘vector’ anyway?
Guest post by Abby Anderson Jones of abbyabbyabbby design.
Small business owners, like yourself, have the very unique task of running the day-to-day aspects of a company while simultaneously thinking about the larger vision. This vision includes brand look and feel, packaging and social media presence. A lot of the heavy lifting for these kinds of decisions can be assisted by working with a graphic designer. As the design vision solidifies more visual stylistic questions can pop-up in your mind, and that is why I’m here!
Hi! My name is Abby! Think of me as your small business illustration guru, leading you down the mountain of illustration styles and guiding you through an internet alive with visual variation.
I have 4 answers to 4 common questions that come right after a designer brings up the idea of working with an illustrator.
What’s the difference between a designer and an illustrator?
In broad strokes, a designer thinks big picture. A designer helps guide discussions on a company’s visual style and implements brand assets such as a logo, brand voice and marketing strategy. An illustrator, on the other hand, is best at creating works of art within a brand’s established visual style. Most of the time, this refers to the imagery of a new or refreshed marketing campaign, brochure or book cover, event poster, or renderings of a site specific spaces. As a side note: some designers are also illustrators and some illustrators also work in design, but this not always the case.
How do I know when I need an illustrator?
An illustrator can be the biggest benefit to your business when you are looking to say something new. If you are launching a new product or campaign, expanding your services, or building on your brand voice, an illustrator is a great person to help. Using artistic interpretation is a way to keep your company’s brand voice evolving and exciting for your customers.
What styles of illustration are there?
Illustration styles are always evolving. So to cut through the fog, listed below are a few examples of tried and true styles to become familiar with:
Vector graphics are well known for their size being infinitely scaleable while maintaining their crisp clean lines. This means the illustration can be as big or as small as you want without the quality degrading. These graphics are made with computer programs like Adobe Illustrator. Vector can be found in logos, packaging design, type design, icons, patterns, video games, movie titles, once you know what vector looks like, you’ll see it everywhere!
Lettering refers to the handcrafting of letters and words. From cursive calligraphy to traditional serifs and clean san serifs the message you wish to convey will be created in a way that is unique to your brand’s voice. Some styles to note in lettering are brush lettering, calligraphy, monoline, decorative, black letter, slab serif, serif and san serif. many of these can be done in vector as well so their shape will be intact.
Most people are familiar with paint brushes from childhood. Using paint can be a powerful way to show spirit, emotion and style. Paint, ink and watercolor can be great for conveying atmosphere, landscape, textures, color, abstract and interpretive ideas.
This style dabbles in the use alternative mediums which may include everyday objects, crafts and non-traditional image making tools. A few great examples of this is using cut paper, embroidery, even food objects. This realm of illustration is always expanding and is very experimental. It’s a great way to take bold visual chances.
Technical or Scientific
Best suited for instructions (think IKEA), or visually explaining a scientific concept. These illustrations are usually clean and simplified for the eye to better understand what is being shown. In the right context this more buttoned-up kind of illustration can look sophisticated and upscale when done with the right brand.
Bringing numbers and stats into an easy to understand and beautiful context is an art form all of its own. Having an illustrator who can put these pieces together will help you specifically with annual reports, sharing findings of a recent study, press releases and fund raising efforts.
How do I research styles and illustrators to work with?
My best suggestions for researching styles and illustrators are places like Instagram, dribbble, society6, and behance. The styles you find on these sites are being shown by the craftsmen/women who made them. Take note of the people that feel in-line with your brand’s voice or a direction you feel drawn to. Searching hashtags will help you filter as well. Try looking for style keywords like ‘lettering’, ‘vector’, etc. to get you in the right direction. If you are interested in looking for someone local, search a city, state or country to narrow the search too. Never feel too shy to email someone you want to work with and see what happens from there. The passion you have for your project will be felt by the right person. Another excellent resource to use is your designer. Chances are that they know someone, or know someone who knows someone that will be a perfect fit. The best is when your designer and chosen illustrator are able to work together for your new project, that way the brand experience is seamless.
ABBY ANDERSON JONES
Abby is a Minneapolis based illustrator + designer at abbyabbyabby design. She has a special place in her heart for her home state of Michigan, brunches that include eggs benedict and brand new brush markers. While working with clients, she loves to help them express their unique voice and make pieces that feel as special as they are authentic.
Connect with Abby!