This week on the blog, we’re exploring two often-debated views of illustration use: original, commissioned creative work versus free resources like stock art or open-design.
The goal of these articles isn’t to take a stance on either perspective, but rather to delve deeper into the discussion so designers of all disciplines can get a better understanding of both viewpoints. Today we’re diving into the importance and value of hiring illustrators for custom, creative work.
Don’t underestimate the impact of illustration when it comes to the success of your business. Illustration has the ability to solve problems, communicate powerful messages, and visualize complex ideas. On top of that, incorporating illustration into your product design adds a human touch to the experience, rendering your product or service friendlier and easier to use.
So, why hire an illustrator versus using more cost-effective alternatives like stock art or open resources? Here’s why thoughtful, commissioned illustration has more value than these alternatives will ever provide, and why it’s worth the price tag:
It will differentiate you from competitors
Hiring an illustrator for commissioned work means you’ll be purchasing artwork that you can own exclusive rights to When it comes to stock art that everyone has access to, there’s no guarantee of how many other brands are using the same imagery as you. Instead of sourcing public art, it’s much more valuable as a brand to invest in illustration work that was thoughtfully and strategically designed to have a unique association with your brand and goals. Hiring an illustrator will help your business stand out from the crowd while also creating brand awareness and familiarity through distinct, custom artwork.
It will tell your brand’s unique story
Work with an illustrator to create artwork specifically geared towards your brand’s audience and customer demographic. Your brand’s story is unique and deserves to be communicated in an authentic way rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach. An illustrator will work with you to create a style and visual language that supports your brand’s message and unique personality — an indispensable tool for attracting users and earning their trust. Illustrator Matt Carlson explains this perfectly in his article, Tell Your Story Through Illustration:
“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.”
It will visualize ideas specific to your product
One of illustration’s most powerful uses when it comes to your business is visualizing how to use your product or how your service works. An illustrator will visualize these complex, abstract ideas, and make it easier for your visitors to understand what you’re all about. Some of the most admired brands use illustration to make their product friendly, approachable, and far less intimidating than described in a block of text.
Using pre-made imagery comes with the risk of confusing your audience because it’s not explicitly addressing your product. Don’t underestimate the power of custom illustration to accompany your targeted messaging.
It will involve your direct input
Nothing can replace working and collaborating with an expert in their craft. Working directly with an illustrator is meant to be a collaborative experience where you hold a wealth of opportunity for input and ultimately influence the outcome of the deliverables. You’ll work together to come up with the best visual solution based on your business needs. At the end of the day, stock resources can’t replace an illustrator’s expertise and the opportunity for an inclusive, collaborative creative process.
When it comes to your business, illustration is not all about aesthetics. Illustration is complex and requires a great deal of problem-solving. Illustrators pore hours of research, concept ideation, sketching, and more, into their work to ensure you get the best possible visual solution to fit your business needs.
If your business can afford it, the investment is absolutely worth making. If you can’t afford it right now, know that it’s an investment worth making down the line. Stock art has its place in the creative world, but it can’t replace the skills, expertise, and collaborative opportunities that you’ll find with an experienced illustrator.
Looking to hire a freelance illustrator? Here are some tips on finding and hiring the right freelancer on Dribbble.