The future for illustrators is better than ever before with opportunities for us to get our work seen at the click of a button via the Internet and even through the access of a hand held device such as the smart phone or I-pad. This fast paced world has seen the rise of a new digital era in which people can share information and connect with people in a matter of seconds thanks to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. The rate in which we now freely share information is alarming, but for the illustrator it presents the opportunity to promote work on a global scale and connect with like-minded people and even gain much needed advice from professional practitioners.
The publishing industry is undoubtedly suffering in these hard times with printing costs at an all time high and the rising popularity of people accessing news for free via the Internet. This has a knock on effect on the illustrator who relies on editorial work as their bread and butter. However the popularity of devices such as the I-pad and Kindle have challenged traditional printing methods bringing new opportunities for illustrators.
American illustrator Will Terry is a children’s book illustrator who has embraced the e-book market and on his blog he talks about the advantages of illustrating for e-books. In his 20 min video report he describes how an illustrator can self publish an e-book for next to nothing. This is undoubtedly an advantage as it means the illustrator can get a book straight to market without the need to seek a publisher. On the other side of the coin this means that over time as people get to grips with working with this new medium the market place will become over saturated with self-published work. This means the illustrator will need to use every resource possible to make sure their work doesn’t go un-noticed in the sea of e-books. The advantages of producing work for e-books means the illustrator is not confined to any number of pages, there are no overheads to worry about and the work can be turned over as quickly as the illustrator wishes. The other advantage is the opportunity to create books with an exciting interactive element for the reader thus giving the illustrator a chance to explore new ways of working. This doesn’t mean that illustrators working in a traditional sense will be missing out, as their work will translate across this medium just as well as a digital illustrators work would.
Despite these hard times there is still much illustration work available. Illustration can be used to compliment articles in newspapers and magazines. Also advertising, brochures, direct mail, posters, billboards and packaging are all areas that require illustration.
As long as there is a need to sell products there will always be a need for a creative means of communication. People will always have a need for art even if it means viewing it from the confinements of a small screen, so I guess illustration is here to ride the digital wave.