Sunday, 8 May 2011

Illustration and the Web

I found this really interesting piece on BaseKit, written by illustrator Asia Simpson some time last year. She writes about how the internet has changed the way illustrators find work, and the advantages and disadvantages of the involvement of the internet. Really interesting read. Check out the original here.


Illustration – easier to get work because of the web?

Illustration has had a resurgence in popularity over the last few years. Drawings and graphics can once again be found in advertising, magazines, web and even fashion! The times of lugging a heavy portfolio with all your most precious creations around are over.
How the web has changed the world for Illustrators

For me at least, the most important factor the web plays in an illustrator’s career is the ease with which work can be displayed, distributed, updated and changed.

In the past when an illustration was drawn out for a particular brief, it would have to be completely re-drawn if the client had wanted even the slightest change, which was not only incredibly frustrating but also time-consuming.

Now, whether work is created digitally or otherwise, Photoshop or a similar programme can be used to quickly change and tweak an image in minutes, meaning the illustrator can be more productive.

Promoting your work on the web

Thanks to the web, illustrators can create self-promotion material and e-mail it to a thousand prospective clients at the click of a button. When it comes to their own portfolio, it’s easy and truly affordable to create a website. Sites like BaseKit allow illustrators, photographers and designers to build a website easily to get their work out to a worldwide audience and keep it updated.

The web also provides access to a community of illustrators where they can network, enter competitions and most importantly get inspiration to create new work. Unlike a personal website these sites display your work to a wider and more interested audience (even if if essentially composed of other illustrators.) Many art directors and possible clients can easily visit one of these sites to sample many different people’s work.

Here are a few sites I have picked to illustrate my point:

Finding work

New trends in web design led to an increased need for illustration on the web. There appears to be an increased demand for illustrators to commission bespoke graphics as many demand that sought-after drawn style. Again there are a number of sites, such as or, where not only illustrators but also other creative’s can search through freelance projects and bid to hopefully win the contract. However, this could be seen as both good and bad for the industry.

There is also the option of selling your work to a site such as iStockPhoto. Creating enough popular images can add up to a nice amount of pocket money. However,the most popular images may not be the illustrator’s style, or fit an exciting brief, and there’s also the matter that once sold, you renounce all control to your work’s use.

Illustration agencies are also an other route to go for on the web. It’s easy to connect with anyone, anywhere in the world and have a good working relationship over long distances. Some even offer the option of creating a portfolio on their respective sites, which they can then show their clients.

A surge in online pdf magazines, such as, has created more opportunities for illustrators to create a portfolio of ‘published’ work. Those enable them to learn how to liaise with other professionals and get their work out to an already assembled audience. This represents a great opportunity for viewers to visit an illustrator’s portfolio site while consider linking their blog to the site. As a result, the illustrator will benefit from better SEO ranking and more chances for their personal portfolio to be found online by prospective clients.

On another note, the sheer volume and quality of tutorials available online help illustrators become aware of new trends, learn new skills and take their illustration abilities to another level.

In conclusion, the quality of work, despite being important, is not the main or only factor when it comes to finding work and getting commissioned. You could produce the best work in the world and no one is going to see it if it remains in your desk drawer or on your well-designed but obscure website. So my main point would be to encourage people to get their work seen by as many people as possible.

You are your own brand and make sure you enlarge and optimize your online presence through the aforementioned channels, as well as the social media ones, such as Twitter, Facebook and more… and hopefully commissions will follow!

This post was written by Asia Simpson Web Designer at BaseKit and freelance illustrator


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