Is this the End of Illustration?

Technology – Changing the way of Illustrations view

Technology has brought tremendous change in the way illustration is viewed today. Digital media, especially Photoshop is the main reason for that. It has influenced the view of the art directors and designers in a big way. Earlier, graphic designers had to depend on the illustrator’s skills and visual acuity. Now, with the introduction of illustration software it is easy to make an illustration without the help of an illustrator.

By reading this you might feel that Photoshop has replaced all the illustrators. Not really. Illustrators who were smart enough to foresee the high jacking of art by digital tools and software learned and started using Photoshop as one of their work tool.

But still the threat of replacement is far stronger than any other technological development occurred in history.

Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why

  1. Before Photoshop, alternatives such as collage and montage were used instead of painting and drawing. Some of the graphic designers used these replacements occasionally to avoid the service of the illustrators’ altogether. After the arrival of Photoshop this is a very common practice.
  2. Prior to the availability of Photoshop, the content of the illustrations were closely followed by the graphic designers and art directors. They worked closely with the illustrators but avoided their presence from the image- making procedure. But today images are changed even without the permission of the illustrators using Photoshop.
  3. Art directors and graphic designers were reluctant to use stock art for illustrating articles and advertisements. Web sites and stock art began to grow with the help of digital platform. Due to this illustrations faced major setback. Now, stock images are easily accessible and inexpensive and are a hassle free substitute for original illustrations.
  4. With stock art, the need for originality in illustration has mitigated. Some of the stock houses are hiring artists on low fees for creating generic concepts in different styles that may have been created by veterans in illustration. Since these stock images are created without any consultation with the art directors or graphic designers the young artists will miss the opportunity to learn and fine tune their skills by interacting with these professionals.
  5. Since illustrations can be purchased online catalog as easy as buying a video tape or movie young art directors and graphic designers won’t be able to develop a fruitful relationship with the illustrators.
  6. Finally, the lesser the number of illustrators employed by the designers the fewer will be the demand for original illustrations.

The Constant shift in Art & Technology

The method and style used for illustration has changed over the years due to the constant shift in art and technology. For example, have a look at the course of illustration during the beginning of this century. You can see that illustration was used for visually presenting a concept which worked as a supplement to the main concept. It was either considered as a story narrating medium or a complimentary element. From there the face of illustrations changed from the role of supporting to mainstream digital form.

Although, still the state of illustration is still uncertain with the emergence of digital technology it is trying to survive of its own. To bring illustration once more to the mainstream the illustrators should rethink. They should see how illustration has evolved and developed over the years and what is the role played by it today in all the popular media.

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