Today’s discussion forum was lead by Jo and Sasha, who talked about the future and the existence of illustration.

If illustration is to be BIG (again) then it must be culturally RELEVANT, beyond magazines and newspapers.

J and S started with an open question- What did it (illustration) used to mean?

– Medical illustration;
– Wildlife illustration;
– Posters;
– Stamps;
– Book covers.

Back in the day, before we went digital, around the post World War II, to be able to become a successful illustrator, you had to be able to draw, to actually draw in a technical way; i.e: anatomy.

(image source)
The discussion then shifted into how the illustration is being made in a less traditional way and that illustrators are moving with the age of technology.
 We are the witnesses to a huge shift from the use of pencils, paints etc. to the utilisation of digital media and software i.e: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator; and the accessibility of social media like Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr in order to share the work and build a reputation.
J and S went on to ask us – How can we / How are we embracing the digital tools available to us?
 We talked about how most of the illustrators adapt our work to a more competitive industry that emerged now through the social media.
 The truth is, if you are an illustrator and you are not participating, if you are not out there using these platforms then WHY BOTHER?  If you are not out there then you won’t get noticed and you will not be able to reach success.
However we also talked about the possibility of both embracing the digital media and using it in a minimal way, where it doesn’t dominate the illustrator’s work i.e: Christoph Newman’s work:
 It is an example of how a digital manipulation can aid an illustrator in their creative process.
The last topic of the discussion was – Where do you think illustration will be in 5 years time?
This is a hard question, because on one side we are seeing the extinction of handwork on illustration and though there will always be a traditional illustrator, there might not be that many of them.
On the other hand the industry of illustrations is ever expanding. Virtual reality and apps programming is allowing us as professionals to reach new territories within our disciplines and outside of them. Moreover, cartoons are back in the business and digital comics are becoming more wide spread. The new generation of audience will make it harder on us but also push us to adapt to the age of technology. After all it’s all about the user experience, the audience is our client.
We have to be able to respond to changes.