Illustration vs Photography article

Why do you think your work is used instead of photography?
With editorial work there is several reasons an editor would use illustration over photography. Often it is used over photographs when they are looking for a non specific image. Photography always shows specific people and situations.
For example if a magazine is running an article about a phenomenon that occurs across the world and not just in one country they may be reluctant to use specific images from a specific area or country
Also if the editor is looking for a picture to accompany an article that cant be easily photographed, perhaps it is quite abstract, i have done a lot of illustrations for articles about the internet or web 2.0 over the past few years. All sorts of more abstract concepts work better with illustrations than with photography or at least they can be summed up better with an illustration than with a photograph
Illustration can also be half info-graphic, i have incorporated all sorts of things into illustrations such as street maps for articles about cities or diagrams showing relative CO2 emissions per country for a feature about reducing greenhouse gases or i even incorporated architectural diagrams several times when i worked for grand designs magazine when they were doing ‘how to’ articles about greening your home. All of these would be impossible to do with photography.
illustration can make the image much easier to understand because it can break the rules of representation like that. ‘how to’ diagrams and street symbols etc are illustrated because they need to show specific information that is often clearer when very abstracted.
Im sure i could think of other ways it has advantages but i cant think of anymore right now!
With advertising also there is a range of reasons my illustration has been used instead of photography. One advantage is because it can be a part of the ‘branding’ image of the advertising campaign. With Illustration you can use specific recognisable company or campaign colours and a particular style that can be associated with the brand or message. You can arguably create a more cohesive set of branded images for an advertising campaign through distinctive illustration than distinctive photography.
Another reason is that illustration is used over photography is that it can often be funnier or more engaging than a photograph, i have done several web banners featuring characters in a simple narrative which would be harder to do with photography
Its again non-specific, this is quite important because an illustrated character can be generic, from any racial background or any age group or even gender which has obvious advantages.
Also i have done images that are specially created to fit with a technique ie stencilled on pavements etc, the stencilling process is very limited so simple graphic illustrations have an advantage over photography in that way.
Do you think magazine editors give enough weight to illustration or should more of it be used?
I havent thought about it too much to be honest
i do see the odd ad campaign done with photography and think to myself that could be much funnier if it was done with good illustration.
Japan is a country that really knows how to get the best from illustration in that reguard.
I think there are good and bad art direction. The good ones know how to use each medium to its best.
i wouldnt really want to illustrate an article that i thought would be better served by printing a good photo and in many places i really want to see a photograph rather than an illustration. i get annoyed sometimes when they have illustrations in some travel articles for example when a photo would be much better.
Generally there is much more photography than illustration used but people prefer to see actual photographs in most cases as they are more useful and informative in that they are closer to reality.
Its only really in the circumstances above (in the last answer) that illustration really does have a clear edge over photography.
By | 2017-09-02T02:25:21+00:00 February 6th, 2009|Tags: , , |2 Comments


  1. illustratorUK 13 February, 2012 at 12:02 - Reply

    I get a lot less editorial work than I used to. My work is ideal when detail is called for. Photos just won’t do it.

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