Commercial artists, also known as illustrators, like Brendan Wetzel, are very different types of artists. They are not designers, who focus on creating corporate colors and logos. Rather, they create a design that has emotion, often humor, and that speaks of an organization, a goal, an event, or a product. Clip art, for instance, is an example of illustrations, although a very poor one. While they are certainly useful, they don’t speak to the audience in the same way as real illustrations do. Yet, around 65% of all illustrators now work as freelance artists, rather than for a business. This means that they shouldn’t just be excellent artists, they should also be excellent marketers.
Brendan Wetzel on Illustrations
Most good illustrators have gone to university, where they have learned about the arts. Some have a full degree, whereas others have simply completed a number of courses relevant to the arts. There are numerous art academies, technical schools, colleges, and universities where coursework in animation, design, sketching, digital art, illustration, and drawing is offered. What is more important than education, however, is a strong portfolio that truly showcases the skill of the artist.
Illustration is a form of commercial art. This means artists work with certain industries and often get to know that niche in particular. Designers, meanwhile, can work on things such as costume and fashion design, dedicated illustrations (scientific or medical designs, for instance), cartooning, multimedia ventures (television and cinema, for instance), textbook illustrations, caricature, web design, book design and illustration, storyboarding, comic books, and graphic novels. This demonstrates the breadth of things that a professional illustrator can do. Some focus specifically on one of those things, others are more a Jack-of-all-trades and do it all.
These designs are fantastic communication methods, as they convey a particular message and give rise to a certain notion. For instance, they can create a mascot, a cartoon, or a character. These characters are recognized by publishers, corporate entities, and advertisers alike. Illustrators also have a wealth of creative tools at their disposal, such as photographs, paintings, and drawings. They must be able to envision a certain message and create something that properly represents that message, moving away from simple text. It is an exciting field of communication that has many different uses in many different industries.
Illustrations, meanwhile, can now also be used on the internet. While originally made specifically for the printed media, the world has changed and is becoming more digital. This means illustrators have had to learn new skills in which they place their animations online and still bring them to life, creating a type of call to action to the visitors who see it. Indeed, digital art and illustration is truly the way of the 21st century, with few people still reading magazines or newspapers. The only exception is posters, although those are generally completed not by illustrators but rather by graphic designers, which is a whole other profession.