Design and illustration can be a way to make connections to people who are of completely different backgrounds, and creativity is essential to any brand that is looking to grow and be part of a global movement. Design is also in every part of daily life, from the signs on a tube, to the poster you sit next to at a bus stop, to the design of a website telling you key information. When used correctly, it can make things more clear, when used incorrectly, it can completely confuse the matter.
Illustration, and the arts in general, are a way to overcome cultural and language barriers. Most companies in today’s society will use icons to represent themselves because they are devoid of any text and, therefore, can be understood in any language. They can also be used to show a brand’s values or ethos. In my time at WSV, I have helped to illustrate training manuals, how-to guides and even helped to develop a new brand logo (spoiler alert). Each of these tasks requires me to think about how my illustrations will be understood by someone who has no attachment to the company. If I were a stranger, walking past one of my illustrations in a part of the world I haven’t yet been, would it make sense?
These tasks also came with a responsibility, I had to make sure that people would be able to fully understand what we were teaching them and that they would understand how to use the products. If used incorrectly, it could effect them in any number of ways. Obviously, these illustrations are accompanied by text, but the illustration should not be reliant on that text to make sense, especially when it could be used in a community where not many people can read.
Tips for illustrating for developing communities:
- Make sure your illustration style is cohesive, so it can be clearly understood.
- Make sure your illustrations make sense without any text.
- Be mindful of cultural differences, what might be used to symbolise one thing in a culture, may not make sense for another e.g. a piggybank to represent money.
- Think laterally. Some of the best ideas may come from being experimental and creative in your thinking. Generate lots of ideas fast. If it doesn’t feel right straight away, don’t try and fix it, move on to another. At the end of the day, you could end up back at one of your first ideas anyway.
Alice Clark FRSA