Illustration is About to Make a Comeback


I can feel it in my bones. The illustration industry is about to make a huge comeback.

With the incredible amount of content available on the internet people are striving to stand out. Whether you are selling a product, publishing books or magazines, selling your services or just your opinions you need people to pay attention.

You need to be unique.

What better way to stand out from your competitors than by using commissioned illustration? Illustrators create something completely original that says exactly what you need it to say and conveys the exact feelings you want to convey.

Recently I have seen an increase in the number of in-house illustration jobs being advertised (a tiny increase, but still). While the economy is  struggling and budgets are low, illustration is still the best value for those that truly want to stand out and be noticed.

It can be disheartening to open up a magazine to see it filled with photography. If these magazines used more illustration in tandem with the photography both would look more interesting.

I don’t mean this to sound like an advertisement for illustration, though that’s not such a bad thing. I mean it to sound encouraging to my fellow illustrators. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be making more money from my work (wouldn’t we all?), I just have a sense that illustration can’t be as devalued as it’s been forever. The pendulum always swings back in the other direction.

Let’s heed the words of Jessica Hische and Ben O’Brien, take pride in our work and look ahead to another “Golden Age” of illustration.

How can we work to improve the status of illustration?

5 thoughts on “Illustration is About to Make a Comeback

  1. I see this happening soon. I think social media has unknowingly been a catalyst for illustrators to ‘come out’ as it were and begin to really display their work. I hope it continues to be a catalyst for a coming second Golden Age.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree! I think history has shown us that just after a major revolution in the publishing world that the field of illustration tends to blossom and grow.

    Whether or not it’s a new ‘Golden Age’, I think, depends solely on you and I to create genuinely good work.

    “The game is afoot!”


    • I think it’s important for people to learn how to market themselves as illustrators. Being an amazing illustrator isn’t enough if you can’t manage to run your business professionally. With so many people trying to succeed at illustration, I think business savvy is going to be something that separates the leaders from the rest of the pack.

    • I couldn’t agree more. The idea of the intern has been abused lately by business just looking for free labor, but when you pair the work with a quality mentor it’s so valuable. In my experience, the illustration community is a very friendly place where more experienced professionals are happy to dispense advice (within reason) to up and coming illustrators. I’ve been a Paper Wings apprentice with Chris Oatley for 6 weeks and it’s already had a measurable impact on my work and my skills.

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