Why illustration ought to be the star of your subsequent marketing campaign

As the pandemic continues to create numerous challenges around the world, reduced budgets and scarce resources can make it an uphill battle for agencies to invest in hiring craft specialists who can help turn a campaign from good to great.

For a long time, illustration has been viewed by many advertising agencies as an alternative route to photography and is quickly becoming the first choice for a much wider range of commercial creative work – not least because shooting has proven to be a logistical challenge in the age of social distancing. Bans and travel bans.

In some cases, at least, it may have sprung up out of necessity, but creative and art directors are discovering the enormous potential of illustration to reinterpret briefs in exciting new ways.

JASON Government Advisory Group by Andy Potts for Science Magazine

Editorial officers are familiar with how illustration makes visual impact, especially on abstract subjects where a literal approach can be problematic. It can bring brand personality to even the driest or most conservative industries, and keep ad campaigns fresh and engaging.

On a practical level, the illustration is also perfectly equipped in the current climate to cope with the global shift towards remote work. For most freelance illustrators, working from home was their bread and butter long before the coronavirus hit.

By choosing Illustration to star in your next campaign, you can unlock a truly global menu of creative talent ready to tackle your next assignment. The possibilities for the stylistic expression of a brand are endless.

For commercial work there is an additional need to convince an image: adjusting to the correct reaction of the audience can be very thorough

The commissioner may be in a different country than the illustration agency, which in turn could represent an illustrator on the other side of the world. None of the parties involved ever need to meet in person.

This offers significant creative benefits in terms of cultural diversity that you can use to bring a campaign to life. And the potential to use time zones for fast processing also has clear practical value.

It's a win-win, but the sheer range of choices can be daunting. You need to find the right illustration agency that has already done the hard work curating the best of the best and that can expertly guide your agency through the process – especially if illustration has rarely been your first choice.

Montreal-based Anna Goodson Illustration Agency has built a diverse global roster of illustration and motion graphics talent in the 25 years since it was founded. And while editorial work remains a staple for the agency, the number of commercial pleadings has increased significantly since the pandemic broke out.

Personal projects of Iliana Galvez

Iliana Galvez from Houston, who was recently added to the agency's list, has jobs for Facebook, Spotify and Adidas under her belt. With a series of works that "highlight black and brown bodies and messages of self-love," Galvez is proving to be in demand as customers increasingly expect their campaigns to reflect a greater variety of lived experiences.

Nathan Hackett has been with the agency throughout his career. His intricate compositions are full of bizarre details and fascinating narratives. In addition to editorial work for titles such as Esquire and The Telegraph, his commercial clients include Olympus and Marie Curie.

"I try to use relatable characters and humor to make my illustrations accessible and audience-friendly," explains Hackett. "For commercial work there is an additional need to convince an image: adjusting for the correct reaction of the audience can be very thorough."

Telephone addiction by Nathan Hackett

Gemma Correll specializes in hand-drawn comics and character design – especially pugs – and has over 800,000 Instagram fans. Correll's hand-drawn cartoony style has also been implemented in campaigns and packaging for brands like Amazon, JetBlue and Keurig.

“Customers appreciate the simplicity of my style and my ability to communicate ideas in a clear and legible way,” she suggests. "This is particularly useful in the digital age."

Gemma Correll for Amazon

Stephanie Wunderlich from Hamburg combines paper collages with digital techniques to create colorful, graphic compositions. She has worked on publications on both sides of the Atlantic, from Die Zeit to Wall Street Magazine, as well as Google and Pentagram.

On a recent commission, Wunderlich had to create a series of black and white illustrations for the Mailchimp website to bring to life dry topics like "sending and receiving emails" and "insights and analysis". "This pared-down black and white style is great for website use because it's not too dominant," she suggests.

Working primarily with pencil, pen and marker pens, Clare Mallison is further proof that a tactile approach can be successful in commercial work. Her line drawings have been featured in the world's leading magazines and newspapers, from the New York Times to Elle Collections, but she is also in demand with advertising agencies like Sid Lee, BBDO and McCann.

“Editorial work has a much faster schedule – often just a few days, while commercial letters can sometimes take months,” Mallison says. "I've found that clients are drawn to my work because it's hand-rendered, with simple lines and a personal feel."

Clare Mallison for the Tap Happy campaign – Agency Taxi Vancouver

Andy Potts has been with the agency for 15 years and is another example of an editorial style that has since translated effectively into a wide variety of sales letters. His work combines collaged textures, photography, 3D and handcrafted elements and has attracted the attention of Mercedes-Benz, Universal and IBM, among others.

"For the past year I've created illustrations and animations for music videos and festival promos, film titles and branding videos for a solar energy start-up," explains Potts. "Animation skills are a real bonus that can definitely swing commissions in my favor."

Fragmentation by Andy Potts for MAN-AGE.com

"Space 2069" by Andy Potts for BBC Focus

Covid-19 has made illustration and animation more attractive to all types of commercial letters. And when the dust settles, the creative and practical advantages remain.

Banner Image: How To Drive in Flood by Nathan Hackett for the American Automobile Association, art direction by Austin Harris of Paceco; agoodson.com