Illustration is more than a masterful use of color, line, and shapes

Illustration/Stephanie Wunderlich

What is it about an image that lingers in your mind, that leaves an indelible mark on your psyche? An illustration that portrays a subject in a way that’s incisive, or that treats a topic with searing honesty is what’s most memorable to me. My heart skips a beat, a chill runs down my spine: either way, an impression is etched in my brain.

To be memorable, an illustration exploits more than a masterful use of color, line, or shapes. Capturing a familiar gesture or likeness, or having a captivating style, isn’t enough either. What makes an illustration stand out from the rest is an original perspective, an unexpected look at something that’s familiar, commonplace. Some illustrators begin by taking a surprisingly fresh look at what’s ordinary, accepted, already known, then add a twist.

Illustrator/Eric Petersen

When I talk to an art director about how a good illustration can be the perfect fit for an ad campaign or an editorial piece, I suggest they look for both style and content to find the right match; something that will convey, in visual terms, the message they want to deliver about a product or story.

Because we have such a diverse group of talented illustrators from which to choose, and such a range of options, I’ll guide an art director, if they ask for assistance. Some come to us knowing exactly what they want and go right to a favored artist or style.

Everybody knows a successful ad or feature article is more than words on a page. What brings a campaign or story to life is how it’s illustrated. A hand-drawn or computer-rendered illustration stands out in a sea of copy.

Readers often linger longer on an illustration. Like a poem, an illustration needs to be unwrapped, examined, analyzed. It becomes a unique identifier for a brand or a label.

Illustration/Alexis Bukowski

A good illustration convinces us that we’re seeing something–through an artist’s eyes–for the very first time. The excitement of the moment makes some illustrations worth remembering.

Good illustration can make us think and feel. It can change our take on what’s real, what’s normal, and what’s happening.

Whether through sensual detail, oddball humor, or wildly-eccentric hair, an illustrator shapes our views with their sometimes crazy, sometimes astute, angle on people, places and things. An illustration brings life to a printed or electronic page. Consider illustration for your next project. It might just be the ticket for success.

Illustration/Katy Lemay