Illustrator Art Director – By @indiapenny_

Illustrator Art Director 

Since starting the course I have started generating a LOT more stuff but I wouldn’t say that my way of thinking/working has changed massively.. yet. Instead I have realised a huge amount about advertising that I was previously unaware of. Before the SCA, I had spent a year trying to start a career as a freelance illustrator. I really loved it but I found there were certain things I was missing. Thankfully, I have found a few of them in advertising. 

My sketchbooks have always been an absolute chaos of mind maps and sketches. I keep doing this until I generate an idea, which sticks when tested on my friends. I then create an outcome using whatever media/style best communicates the message. This way of working has been holding be back a bit as an illustrator because I don’t have a strong distinguished style (very important when trying to get hired as a freelancer!). However, from what I have seen this way of working is better suited to art direction as the style/medium needs to be altered based on the client/project.

The two parts of illustration I am most interested in are branding and editorial. I like branding because it allows me to visualise a brands voice and editorial because it allows for conceptual thinking. I have found advertising to be a sort of mesh up of the two. It takes the ways of thinking from editorial and applies them to a brand. This can take away the challenging subject matter element that editorial alone has. I like grappling with this but sometimes find it hard to inject humour without it turning to satire.

Looking at advertising through the eyes of editorial illustration is something I have found useful when conquering my first briefs. The two are incredibly similar in many ways. In both, you are trying to create something that is simple, clever and communicates quickly through the use of an interesting juxtaposition. However, there are some big differences between the two aswell. Unlike editorial, advertising artwork is not a direct illustration of the themes discussed in the text. Instead, the text and image need to work together to communicate the message. I’ve enjoyed incorporating text in my work and the interplay/extra layer it adds. However, I have a been struggling to make sure the two don’t repeat eachother. Something I have found useful is taking each element away and seeing weather the poster still makes sense.

Another thing that I am enjoying about advertising is having a call to action. About a year ago, I went to an ad agency with my illustration portfolio. I presented a poster to the pair depicting a bird full of plastic as a commentary on plastic pollution. They looked at it and said ‘without a call to action this is just a bird full of s**t’. At the time I thought that they were looking at it in the wrong context but it was something that stuck in my mind and pushed me to apply to the SCA. To me creativity is solving a problem. As is particularly the case in this poster, in order to solve the problem you need to have a call to action or you end up shouting in the dark.

Illustration is still something I will always hold closely and continue to do on the side. However, it is safe to say I am feeling very smug about my choice in career move thus far.

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