Insights

Tell Your Story Through Illustration

Illustration is about finding the core, the essence, of an idea, then wrapping design around it to tell a story.


Like great copywriting tells a story, so can illustration.
Illustration brings a richness to a site or print piece not able to be captured with simple iconography. An icon being a simpler graphic enhances copy, clarifies concepts, and provides a visual break. An illustration is meant to engage an audience and bring them into the story.

Any company or organization can tell you what an increase in value there is to a brand, product, or cause when an audience is caught up in the story behind it. There is a moment to capture an audience’s minds or hearts and create a connection or a memory. And with good branding, design, and illustration, they’re setting themselves apart from the competition.

Every Story Is Unique, so Every Illustration Should Be

Details. Are. Key. Whether it’s the perfect curl and wisp to a mustache or a bent Post-It and spilled coffee on a cluttered desk, it’s the fine details that set illustrations and illustrators apart. It’s also where we thrive on going above and beyond. We like to push ourselves and experiment, developing the ideal solution to every design challenge.

What’s also important to remember is that not every solution can come out of the same illustration style. As with any marketing endeavor, tone, emotions to invoke, level of seriousness, and a dozen other nuances work together to hit upon the right story and look at the right time for a specific audience. There’s a strategy to choosing illustration styles, and all are focused on the character of the company or organization the piece is representing coupled with the purpose of the piece.

Bringing an Illustration to Life

Illustrating begins with giving your mind total freedom and a sense of inhibition to explore any idea, never knowing where the best ideas might come from. Think of it like brainstorming with pictures. Drawing inspiration from the surroundings, favorite places, nature, products, people, and anything else that comes in sight can trigger an idea or set of ideas. Once that one great flash sparks, it’s a matter of experimenting with different styles and techniques looking for the right way to tell the particular story visually. Iteration and continued understanding of the story allow the illustration to grow, morph, form, and fully come to life.

The Competition Can Both Inspire and Provoke

Illustration is thriving right now, so much so that there is almost an over saturation. There are a lot of great pockets of cities and areas that are bursting with talent. We look to those areas for inspiration, not for something to mimic but more for the trigger of ideas we get when seeing something fresh and new. And more often than not, the bigger value we receive from following other illustrators and checking out new work is the provocation to push ourselves further, harder — it’s that rush that gets us energized and keeps our style from getting stagnant.

Dribbble is a great place for seeing new work, and we love to post on there ourselves to receive peer feedback. Here are some of our favorite illustrators to follow; check them out:

We Take Our Own Advice

Illustration is not just something we recommend to clients; we follow the same advice. While we are well-known for including illustrations on our client work and our own website, some of our favorite work is not what’s going to be seen by a large audience — it’s the holiday cards, swag boxes, resource videos, and fun internal pieces instead.

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