Illustration [ɪləˈstreɪʃ(ə)n] and graphic design [ˈɡrafɪk dɪˈzʌɪn] often overlap and it is difficult to distinguish between the two, but think of illustration as traditional image-making while graphic design often “packs a punch” with typographic functionalism.
Basically, an illustration is a visual rendering done on 2D media and was created manually rather than photographically. Whereas a graphic designer typically creates functional compositions that combine layout, typography, and pre-existing symbols and images to convey textual/abstract information, graphic design is almost exclusively about precise communication. An illustrator creates original illustrations that convey sensual information through painting, drawing, etc. It is a very meticulous, analogue process. Illustrations are commonly used in graphic design projects. A beautiful illustration can often grab the attention of your audience just as well as a photograph, and in many cases it can be even more effective.
In terms of skills involved, illustration is generally more expressive, about images that create a subjective mood, and graphic design is more deliberate, about images that achieve an objective goal. Within the world of graphic design, an illustrator would be the one who brings concepts into a visual.
Illustration and graphic design often overlap, but here is a short description to highlight the differences.
- Illustration [ɪləˈstreɪʃ(ə)n] is the art of making images that work with something and add to it without needing direct attention and without distracting from the thing they illustrate. The other thing is the focus of the attention, and the illustration’s role is to add personality and character without competing with that other thing.
- Graphic design [ˈɡrafɪk dɪˈzʌɪn] is the art of making images that attract direct attention towards themselves and use attention for a specific, deliberate purpose. They do compete for attention with other things, and a good designer will be able to control which elements win attention in what order on a busy page.
I was born with a pencil in my hand and have been drawing ever since I can remember. I work within both disciplines and tend to weave seamlessly between graphic design and illustration. I do original artwork, but often work with digital media to create graphic prints.
“Design is the method of putting form and content together.
Design, just as art, has multiple definitions; there is no single definition.
Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics.
Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated”
– Paul Rand
1. “Hi Monsters” My signature is my monsters. These little creatures are an amalgamation of what is going on in my warped mind. I doodle and draw, then I use Illustrator to refine them and make them workable for different printing techniques, such as screenprinting and gicleés.