A common misconception is that illustration and graphic design work are essentially the same thing. It’s an easy mistake to make, given how closely related the two are, and how many current working artists specialize in both. But if you’re someone that needs to hire a graphic designer (or an illustrator) for a project, it’s a good idea to make sure you understand the difference, to ensure you don’t waste time asking the wrong person for the wrong job.
So how are they different? While graphic design can sometimes utilize illustrations, they are distinctly different disciplines. For example, a drawing of a lion is an illustration. But a drawing of a lion used with a company logo and product information — that’s graphic design.
Graphic design is generally created and used for commercial purposes, whereas illustration tends to have more in common with fine art. Illustrations often tell a story, convey a feeling, or just provide decoration. An illustration might be something you frame and hang up in your living room, whereas graphic design might be something you use on a product label or in an advertisement.
So how do you know which one you need?
If you’re looking for a logo design for your business, or for that matter a package design, sell sheet, or any marketing materials, you’ll definitely want to contact a graphic designer. If you have someone in mind, be sure to look through their portfolio to see if they have any examples of the above. If they don’t, they’re likely an illustrator or other kind of visual artist, and they’re probably not suited to the task you have in mind.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something with a little more artistic flair, you can also commission an illustrator to create some original artwork for your label design, album cover, poster, flyer, book cover, or whatever else you need. However, you’ll most likely also need to hire a graphic designer to handle the typography, or text, for the project; or else add the text yourself, which can be time-consuming.
Then there are graphic illustrators.
Graphic illustration combines elements of graphic design and illustration. It often showcases original artwork while also communicating ideas, promoting products and services, and clarifying concepts for the potential customer. In other words, it’s the best of both worlds.
When your company needs a more stylized, creative approach to your marketing, a graphic illustrator is one of your best options. Graphic illustrators prioritize imagination, while also sticking to your marketing strategy and brand aesthetic. It’s a great way to create more eye-catching, memorable marketing materials and truly take your brand to the next level.