Illustration in brand communications has become increasingly important over the past fifty years, not only in advertising, but in packaging and various other products.
Its increased popularity can be attributed to its ability to provide consumers with a rapid visual interpretation of information (as in instruction manuals).
Increasingly, the art of illustration is provoking a lot of interest in everything from children's books, comic books, advertising, design and all other forms of communication. Thanks to the Internet, now more than ever, illustrators are producing conceptual and narrative content for multiple contexts and media, but it wasn't always so.
In the nineteenth century, during the golden age of illustration, thousands of illustrated images appeared in books and periodical publications, informing, entertaining, agitating and educating the public. Critics and artists denounced these works in general as being prosaic, poorly executed, and uncreative.
During the digital revolution, similar critiques were levelled at illustrations and graphic design, regardless of how much it directly affected, and reflected, people's lives and behaviour. In the 80's many graphic design professionals embraced the computer. It seemed as if Apple Macintosh, which appeared in 1984, would do away with the artesian tools and implements of the illustrator. Computers were seen to offer greater speed, control and a seemingly infinite number of ways to construct, reproduce and distribute images.
At the beginning of the 90's, the fact that brand and advertising agencies leaned principally to photography and digital montages created by graphic designers led to the general belief that commercial illustration as a complement to photography had become irrelevant, as these designers had access not only to much faster technology, but also to the increase in stock images and digital printing.
Even so, the computer, advances in software and the Internet have also proven useful tools for the resurgence of illustration and the widening of its function and acceptance. The 90's saw every facet of our visual culture saturated by digital effects, including a deconstructed typography – clean and modernist – as well as digital line drawings and logos created from the scanned images.
The intrusion of technology into every aspect of our lives resulted in businesses trying to find and convey a more human element, a personal touch to visually represent their products and brands, so as to assuage our fears of technology.
A new discursive critique, along with an integral focus, is being focused on illustration; one that recognizes the importance of those who work in the margins of branding and design. The role of the illustrator, like the role of the graphic designer, is to convey the message of the brand and communicate a story that is instant and accessible.
Illustrators have created many of our iconic images, which have conveyed everything from political passion, humor and satire, and have also educated, instructed, decorated and entertained.
The global market is changing at maximum velocity, and illustration, one of the most popular forms of art on the planet, is keeping pace. There has never existed a more propitious time for the use of illustration in communication.
We recently worked with Maven partners, a London-based executive search launching at the height of the recession. They tasked our team at Mijo! Brands with developing a brand that communicated both the professional expertise and human touch the partners were bringing to the fledgling venture. We proposed they break the mould of the larger recruitment companies and use illustration to promote the more human qualities of the company and its brand strategy.
In a market as saturated as that of executive search, an apparent lack of creativity has resulted in increasingly generic design that uses predictable and repetitive stock images to create bland messaging.
Taking a strong leap forward, we developed identity proposals in line with the company's brand strategy and business objectives. We worked with Maven to clearly identify how they wanted to differentiate themselves from their larger peers. The result? A corporate brand that uses a very old art form to communicate something instantly modern and credible.
Fátima is a senior designer at Mijo! Brands; is an artist at heart and has mastered most of the fine arts intuitively. In her work life she leverages her discerning eye and passion for beauty in her design to create innovative and distinguished brands.
Mijo! Brands is based in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Mexico.