Part 2: Illustration in design - The Cons


Welcome to the second blog post in our series about Illustration in design. Last week we covered some of the many positives of using illustration. In Part 2 we will cover some of the trickier aspects of this approach.

The Cons of Illustration


So if Illustration is so great, why don’t people use it more often?

Honestly, it mostly comes down to price. Illustration can be more time intensive and so therefore the cost can be greater when compared with photography. Obviously this cost is not warranted for every campaign, but the value that illustration can provide to the right project more than justifies the initial outlay.

A good way to balance out the cost of an illustration is to reuse the assets in multiple ways. Illustrations can be used on vehicle graphics, packaging, print collateral, merchandise and social media. Correctly briefing the illustrator and working with your designers can really help stretch out the use of your illustrations and get the most value out of your purchase.


Art of Gwil

The same illustrative assets by Art of Gwil for 7-Eleven used in multiple applications


Another drawback to illustration is that sometimes it just doesn’t represent the tone that your campaign or brand wants to put out into the world. Illustration can be seen as silly and childish and perhaps not appropriate for particular types of messaging.

While it’s true that illustration isn’t for everyone, often the problem is not the illustration itself but rather the style of illustration. One illustrative style is not like the other. Could you imagine a political cartoon in a children’s book, or vice-versa? Of course not, each style of illustration has it’s own tone to express a specific voice and communicate meaningfully to different market segments.


Andrew LyonsIllustration can be great for serious products too. This award winning packaging for Strong Nutrients featured unusual illustrations by Andrew Lyons.


Working with an art director and team of designers can mitigate the issue of tone in many circumstances. Illustration in commerce doesn’t just magically appear. It’s often the product of a skilled team of people working with an illustrator to ensure that the final piece is on-brand and is communicating meaningfully.


This article should give you an idea of some of the more difficult aspects of using illustration in design, and help you navigate these for your own projects. In Part 3, we’ll be covering a Case Study of an illustrative project we worked on with the State Library of Queensland. This should give you a deeper insight into the process.