A picture is worth a thousand words
Before I dive into the in's and out's of how illustration is used within the creative industry, I must first define the skills of illustration itself.
Illustration is a type of design process, that is usually a lot more character driven or "lively" then its other design counterparts such as logo designs. They are usually designs that have a touch of character and even humour in order to provoke some sort of message, be it emotion or information, in a more creative manor, then just telling someone something. Hence the phrase, "a picture is worth a thousand words" or to put it simply, illustration main purpose is to show the story, rather then tell it; invoking more emotional responses in audiences. The psychological reasoning for this, is as humans we rely of sight as our primary sense, therefore any change in this environment will grab our attention straight away, which is why illustration is so perfect as an advertisement tools. As well as this, sights serves as our main sense for gathering information, thereby visual imagery as a tool for projecting information is one of the quickest and more interesting uses of divulging information. As I will go into later on in this presentation.
Illustration can also be a mixture of digital design as well as using traditional skills and mediums. It can even be a mixture of both, the list is endless! It is such a diverse part of design, and personally one of my favourites.
Some of the aspects of design illustration can be a part of are as follows:
- Book design and Illustration
- Television, cinema and other multimedia endeavors
- Comic books and graphic novels
- Textbook illustration
- Web design
- Scientific and other specialised illustration
- Fashion and costume design
To name a few.
A Brief History of Illustration
Illustration dates back to well before the society we know today. It is said that the first illustrations were actually cave paintings done thousands of years ago; such as the Bull drawn on the walls of the Lascaux caves.
As well as this, you can also see many illustrations on the walls of Greece and Rome, as they developed this new art style using erotic graffiti, which you can see at Pompeii on the entrance to brothels.
Before the 15th Century, books were hand illustrated. Some of the more notable examples of this coming from the time period of (476AD-1492AD) which are medieval illustrations accompanying the manuscripts. Books at this time were made using the over coat, or cow leather, which means that the illustrations would have been made using layers of gold to illuminate the illustrations.
In the decade of 1430 there were a lot of developments in terms of the style and techniques of illustration, as In this decade, specifically 1430 the Intaglio Printing, which used copper and Zinc as the medium for paint. During 1439 the Woodcut Illustrations began to gain popularity, especially as it was used by Gutenberg Printing Press to illustrate the bible. (First Book: The Bible)
During the 16th and 17th Century the development of the Etching and engraving techniques. Which became extremely popular during this period, and is even a technique that can be learned today.
In the 19th Century the medium moved away from the steel engravings, which were the standard in the early century, towards more wood-engraving, which were more easily to be transferred to pages of texts. The way in which this technique of illustration would work, is book and journal publishers would employ workshops of wood-engravers to render artists drawing, which they would transfer onto polished blocks of fine-grained yew or box-wood which could then be locked directly into a printing -chase with the metal typeface.
The most notable illustrators during the 19th century, maybe people that you recognise: Walter Crane (1845-1915), who became principal of the Royal College of Art (1898-99); Beatrix Potter (1866-1943), creator of the characters Peter Rabbit, Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Mrs Tiggy-Winckle and others; Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), noted for works like Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (1900), Siegfried and The Twilight of the Gods (1911), The Romance of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table (1917); Edmund Dulac (1882-1953), the French-born British artist best known for his illustrations of fairy-tale and legendary subjects; and the later Raymond Briggs (b.1934) the 20th century cartoonist, graphic artist and author of The Snowman.
Illustration in Advertising
The reasoning for picking advertisement as a way to study the importance of illustration In our creative and media culture is that the moto for advertisement is "a picture is worth a thousand words". This phrase is tossed around a lot in advertisement due to the constraints of budgeting in terms of the industry; however I believe that this moto also applies quite nicely to that of illustration, as illustration in itself is used to encapsulate a thousand words in one creative and designed image. In terms of the importance of illustration within the advertising industry, some companies can attribute most of their success to their illustrations, some are floored by the misunderstanding of the design aspect of illustrations; and how, if done wrong, the compilation can completely throw a campaign off.
Visual imagery is the first step to grabbing your audiences attention to campaign, and therefore is extremely important to get right. Therefore here are the components to a good illustrative campaign. First you need to understand the Accurate Use of Illustration. Illustrations, as I have previously stated are used to draw the audiences attention, while also promoting the product or service. This means that the illustration should be able to blend in well with the overall theme that the advertisement campaign and brand have established already; not lending itself to stick out like a sore thumb as it was. If this is the case, then the visuals become counterproductive; instead of drawing attention to message trying to be conveyed, it will distract the audience; the message being completely lost, and the campaign being useless.
Bad example of illustration being distracting
I believe this is a good example of the illustration being a complete distraction from what this "stop smoking" campaign's message is trying to convey. This simple illustration could be considered highly offensive and completely insensitive to those who are affected by terrorism and the events that occurred on September 11th 2001. Now I'm not saying this campaign is bad purely because of the illustration, obviously the whole idea of comparing 9/11 to smoking is inappropriate and inconsiderate of those living with the affects of terrorism, even now. However, I'm here to analyse this illustration, to point out the reasons why it is so distracting as a piece of graphic design. The simplicity of the illustration itself could be interpreted as simplifying the problem of terrorism to black and white. Which, to most people is not how the world works, just as quitting smoking isn't all black and white, they're are steps in between in order to go from being a smoker to a non smoker in most cases. This message in itself distracts from the message, as well as being a negative representation of terrorism. The simple design could also be interpreted as being offensive to those of 9/11, as it could be interpreted as representing the effects of 9/11 as simple. Which could be considered quite on offensive interpretation and quite distracting from the message the company was trying convey, which I believe was that smoking is destructive, but I will say, it isn't as destructive as 9/11. The problem with visual medium, over other mediums such as written or auditory, is that there isn't just one answer, as I stated before, a picture is worth a thousand words, which if done correctly, a good illustration will direct your mind in one particular way of thinking, usually the message that the creator of the illustration want to convey. However, a bad one, such as this, diverts the message into something that the audience can interpret into many different things, many of them bad, such as the messages I analysed previously myself.
Perrier "Le Club Perrier" by Ogilvy & Mather Paris
Perrier Le Club Perrier 2011
The first example of use of digital illustration effectively within an advertisement can be seen in this image above by artist/photographer "The Gunn Report". The many reasons why I like this example is not just down to skill of illustration within the image itself, but rather the context behind this image. Perrier is a French company based in Paris, one of the most culturally enriching city's as well as being a party hotspot. They decided to incorporate this into the advertising of their carbonated water product. Taking the word "hot spot" literally and using the phrase "the more people in the room, the hotter it gets" (causing people to want water in the advert) as in the illustration (I will come back to that later) however this marketing is more intelligent and creative then just that. The company decided to get social media involved, incorporating a new take on the interactive medium and the input the audience have on the advert. The more views that the advert gets, the hotter the room gets....the more steamy it gets. Sex sells ladies and gentlemen, we all know that. So at 3 weeks the video hit 11.5 million views, causing everyone to shed clothing, the walls and chandelier to begin melting, not dissimilar to famous artist Salvador Dali, and not also dissimilar to that of the illustration above. Not only does this make those the advert look like they need water, you as an audience member will be seeing all this iconography relating to heat, and dehydration, and thereby programmed to want refreshment. After the steamy advert is over the tagline is revealed..."The Ultimate Refreshment When Things Turn Hot". Basic human instincts, In my experience, sell products. Food, Sex, Refreshment are all basic human instincts, including two of them in your tagline Is genius.
So how does this link to the illustration above, well the slogan defined by the social media campaign is very much present in the illustration "The ultimate refreshment when things get hot" This is shown from the use of the melting iconography throughout both illustration and social media campaign, again, not only communicating clearly in a visual form heat, and dehydration, evoking emotional responses then what might be evoked by written or auditory advertisements. This illustration, and visual media in general is designed to do this.
5 pieces of illustrative work by Lauren T O'Neill
This first piece is done using traditional mediums of acrylic paint on canvas. Very basic and classic way of Illustration; a non digital version of illustration. This piece was done awhile ago, but I think it encompasses most of my traditional skill, especially my eye for detail work, which has carried over into my progression in my other illustration work, especially my character orientated illustration. The way in which my work was constructed, was I started with my self portrait observation, which I had previously created. Then I decided that I wanted to adapt that drawing into a new illustration piece. From this, I gathered images I thought that would go well, as well as cultural influence I was interested in, this being Native American influence.
However, I do think that the paint work is a little sloppy in places, especially the feathers, as the owl and face are so detailed in the shadows and layering of paint, it juxtaposes the light and almost see through layers of paint and detail on the headdress feathers. In terms of the function of it as an illustration piece, I think that it does tell the a story of the progression of how I got to that final piece, as I have incorporated portraits and still life, with all of the colours corresponding and complimenting each other. However, it doesn't really have a specific purpose as a piece of illustration, say as a poster, concept art or book illustration, its only function is a piece of art. You could make the argument that it would be a good concept for a tattoo illustration, however the medium In which I used to create the piece means that it wouldn't easily transfer into a piece of illustration that would be easily tattooed. In conclusion, I think that it is an attractive looking piece, yet it fails at its function, as it has no function.
This second pieces one of my early attempts at digital illustration using a tablet and Paint Tool Sai. This took about 4/5 hours to sketch and colour. I purposefully choose to include the sketchy style, as this is an illustration aseptic I prefer to use in my work, however, looking back on it, I think it could have been a lot cleaner, especially the line work. Which I then started to do in my later work as I progressed in my digitalisation skills became more advanced. The process in which I used to achieve this, I first set out creating the sketch within my sketch book, to which I then took a photo of and imported into Paint Tool Sai. Once this was done I changed the layer type to multiply and began sketching over my pencil lines. This is where the sketchy style comes in, as at this point I didn't have a clue how to use the pen tool on paint tool Sai. With outline complete, I then began the shading of the drawing, using my own knowledge of acrylic paint to aid me in the shading and digital painting of the piece. As an illustration, it has more of a purpose then that of the traditional piece I did prior, as it was designed in being character design for a children's fantasy story I was writing. I think it fits in perfectly with that theme, as the colour schemes and lighting are pleasant to look at, and easy to see because of the thick lines and wide eyes of the character design.
This piece was a collaborative piece between me and Matthew Kilcullen, as a logo in which can be used personally, or as a piece of graphic design on a t-shirt or hoodie. Its quite a versatile piece as it can be used as both with tweaking to the design, such as adding typography to make it more logo based in its design conception. However, I left it without typography as I preferred it as a graphic art piece to be used on t-shirts, hoodies or even notebooks. The way in which this was constructed consisted of a sketch that I initially created before hand, which sparked some inspiration In Mathew, we both decided on the colour scheme, to be pale colour against the stark contrast of black lines and dot work. It's very tattoo style-esq which we both have a passion for. As well as neon sign inspired, which is a passion I have. I think it is a great example of two styles coming together in one illustration. In terms of it being used as a piece of illustration practically. I think it is a good example of an illustrative piece, we knew what the objective was, which was to design a piece of digital illustration that would attract a young alternative crowd, not unlike ourselves, and as we have posted this design to social media, we have bother generated a lot of attention, both receiving about 50 likes on each platform of social media. I also think that it is a very clean illustration, easy to identify stylistically and keeps very much within popular culture.
This piece was designed to be a stylistic movie poster, with the intent on being so simplistic it only uses iconography in order to advertise the film. It was designed more to be a collectable/marketable poster, that people would have as an art piece display, however I think it would work in terms of rebranding a film that might be re-released on DVD or within cinema. I researched the film, watching it once again, and found a simple object that is part of the iconography of the film, as well as the colour schemes in which the movie has running throughout it; including its marketing and DVD case. In terms of the effectiveness as this piece being a form of digital illustration, I think this is one of the most effective pieces of illustration I have done, as illustration is used in order to communicate a message visually, and is normally the most effective when it is simplistic. As I intentionally designed this to be simplistic, and I think it does communicate the intended message, which is the film KillBill and advertising it, then I think this is a prime example of illustration, and to be honest, I wouldn't change anything about this piece as I am extremely proud of it.
This piece of illustration was designed to be a logo for myself, as a way to promote myself, and any work I happen to create, whether it be writing, or digital art pieces. This designed happened almost by accident, I had no idea what to do as a logo to encompass myself and my style, so I got a few pieces of iconography that related to me, sweetheart sweets being the one that stuck, I then research different typography until I came across one I could work with. I think this is a decent piece of logo design, as well as digital illustration design, as it is easy to print in all colours, it simplistic enough to be printed in different styles and still be readable and recogniseable. I think it also serves it purpose of being a piece of illustration as you can tell that it has been designed to be a promotion of myself, as well as visually communicating my design style, my name and my body of work, which is creative.