There has been a lot of debate in recent years about the future of illustration and its relationship with the ever-growing digital world. It is inevitably becoming a more important tool for design and illustration, and in the world of moving image it is obviously a must!
There are a lot of people around where I’ve heard two types of opinions on this subject. There are the illustrators who have openly embraced the digital world. For them the software has opened up new levels of creativity, more crazy ideas can be realized in the digital world and the software constantly improves their visions. I can understand why they think like this, especially if they took to it straight away. For me though, I was quite scared of using digital means to create pieces. I felt at first that it was kind of cheating, that everything should be done by hand. However, not I’m used to the idea of using certain types of software and hardware I’m eager to experiment with new means.
On the other side of the fence there are what you might call the “traditionalists,” the people who love their hand-made craft so much that they think rather like I used to—that there’s no point in having all digital work! They think that the real craft of illustrating lies in making things yourself, and what about all of those happy mistakes that you get when doing it yourself? Where does all the freedom go? I quite like cutting and sticking sometimes myself, and I still believe that hand-drawn is better, so I also agree with the less extreme of these comments.
But where do I lie in the debate? Well, I’d like to say that I’m in the middle, because I as a practitioner am currently trying to find a good balance between keeping my work looking hand-made yet give it a digital contemporary feel. But I’m not. I think that a s an illustrator or designer my opinion is only half of what matters. I have to listen to the world, and the world is telling me that although there is (and I hope always will be) space for hand-made methods, digital is growing much faster. You should think to use it as merely another tool if you wish, and also digital work is easier to market to the social community now.
As for the Internet: I predict that there will be a lot more demand for work to be going straight online in the future. Newspapers are increasingly becoming more popular online and there is so much more room to play around here. Why have a still picture when we can captivate our audience with a moving picture? Advertisements constantly invade our internet privacy, and there is so much room for displaying work online. The first people who realize these new ways of digitally working will be the pioneers in the next generation.
Traditional illustration isn’t dead. Digital illustration has and never will kill it. It is simply another branch on the old tree of making images!