Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Drawing In Advertising


Where has drawing gone? Do illustrators draw anymore? And, do clients even buy drawn illustrations? I have heard these questions and others concerning drawing asked while discussing illustration with my colleagues, particularly in regard to advertising and promotional illustration. Many feel the widespread adoption of digital technology has had a profound affect on the marketability and acceptability of concepts executed though drawing. Clients seem to be strongly influenced to desire highly produced, reality emulating, illustrated visuals, and in particular markets and among specific audiences this is certainly so.

In early advertising, drawing was the “go to” method for producing advertising illustrations. Back then, drawing had many advantages over other media when it came to displaying concepts distinctly by reproducing subjects with superior clarity and contrast, especially in print environments that were prone to visual and technical limitations. Even color illustrations originated with a drawing either in pencil or ink that then was “colorized” with paint washes, such as in the work of Alphonse Mucha.

Illustrator, Jessie Wilcot Smith. Client, Ivory Soap. 1920.

Illustrator unknown. Client, Hinds Cold Cream. 1913.

Illustrator, Jerry Plucer. Client, Macy's Department Store.
Date Unknown.

Illustrator, Walter Harrison Cady. Client, Ivory
Soap. 1910.

Illustrator, Captain Geoffrey Spalding. Client, Bon Ton
Corsets. 1914.

Illustrator, Louis Rhead. Client Lundberg Perfume. 1895.

Illustrator, Ben Stahl. Client, John Hancock Insurance. 1947.

Illustrator unknown. Client, Underwood
Deviled Ham. 1911.

Illustrator unknown. Client, Postum Cereal. 1913.

The Stigma

When I was in art school back in the 1970’s, pencil and ink drawings were discouraged as a final art media for illustrators, especially colored pencil drawing, which was thought to be too time consuming and difficult to reproduce to be practical as an exclusive media for illustration assignments. Full color painting, and mixed media color work were the acknowledged techniques for many art programs at the time. This preference was merely a reflection of what was prevalent in the industry. The television notion of “in living color” had become the benchmark for illustration in that era.

In the 1950’s through the early 1970’s, ad illustrators were employed by clients and art directors to visually execute concepts, not necessarily to think them up. Even though, most cleverly, the narratives imagery illustrators conceived, became the main ad concept, as well as the ad’s sales enticement. The story content illustrators visualized became the conceptual content of an ad.

The Decline of Pencil Drawing

Even though drawing was at the foundation of the creative process, and a pencil sketch was the starting point for illustrations that were finished though the addition of other techniques, as time went on, pencil drawing in it’s purest form became less and less evident in finished color illustrations. Illustrators, who began by drawing their compositions out on board, paper, canvas, and other surfaces, applied media on top of a drawing eventually covering up any presence of the drawing altogether.

The Perseverance of Ink Drawing

Considered an easily reproducible media for all forms of print applications in past eras, ink drawing, due to its high contrast density of line, was more extensively used as a finished illustration media than pencil was. In the early 20th century, ink drawing was much easier to convert into engraving for use by printers and publishers. Lithography, which was used to translate pencil drawing for printing, was much less practical and stable at the time. Eventually lithography would replace both engraving (gravure) and letterpress as the preferred method of mass publishing. Refinements to plates and methods of image transfer made lithography superior for reproducing all forms of both monochromatic and panchromatic illustration media including pen and ink.

The Utility of Technology

Today, the sophistication, quality, and adaptability of digital software when simulating conventional media, presents formidable competition for non-digital drawing media. This challenge presents itself in two ways.

Simulating Pencil and Pen

The first digital challenge pertaining to drawing is a technical one involving the software itself and the purpose for which the programs were designed. Although other software programs are available, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop are the most widely used ones by illustrators.

Adobe Illustrator As A Drawing Media
Even though it was named Adobe Illustrator, the original concept behind the software was to assist graphic designers with aspects of design production including the application of typography and technical rendering of visual elements. Precepts to Illustrator were accuracy, scalability, and editability. As such it doesn’t perform particularly well when used to simulate a conventional drawing, at least not without extensive modifications. It does work better for pen and ink where tone pressure is less of an issue.

Adobe Photoshop As A Drawing Media
More accurately named than Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop was created as a photo translation, editing, and retouching media for photographers. Even the photo-based names of the tools belie the original purpose for the program, e.g., the dodge tool, burn tool, and red eye tool, to name a few. However, it was the photo retouching technology that was built into the program that gave illustrators their first foot in the door to using Photoshop to illustrate with. Many pre-digital photo retouch artists were traditional art school trained artists. Retouching involved painting and drawing directly on the surface of black & white and color photographs. For this reason painting and drawing functionality was designed into early versions of Photoshop. Now that Photoshop’s user base has expanded to illustrators and artists, this functionality has been greatly improved making Photoshop well suited to the process of drawing, although it is still difficult for the program to simulate the look of a conventional graphite drawing. Plug-ins and add-ons can aid in this effort.

The Impact of Technology

The impact that digital technology has had on advertising illustration and the advertising industry can be described as one of give-and-take. A demand for digital super realist art skills and techniques to emulate reality has influenced the illustration field. This in turn has motivated illustrators to learn and perfect these skills to meet the demands of ad agencies and their clients. As illustrators have increased their digital skillsets, they have been able to counter influence ad concepts through their expertise. As a result of ad industry preferences and the influence technology on illustration, drawing has lost its position as a preeminent media for finished art. 

The Aftermath

Drawing still continues to be used sparingly for ad campaigns. Even so, it is still considered by some clients and creatives to be an effective media for attracting attention and conveying concepts. Below are contemporary advertising examples that spotlight drawn illustrations.

 
Illustrator, Geoff Mcfetridge. Agency, BBDO, New York. Client, Foot Locker.

Illustrator, Geoff Mcfetridge. Agency, BBDO, New York. Client, Foot Locker.

Illustrator, Frank Hoppmann. Agency, Jung von Matt/Spree, Berlin.
Client, Sparkasse Versicherung Legal Protection Insurance.

Illustrator, Frank Hoppmann. Agency, Jung von Matt/Spree, Berlin.
Client, Sparkasse Versicherung Legal Protection Insurance.

Illustrator, Enrico Sangiorgio. Agency, Y&R, Rome.
Client, Natural Beauty.

Illustrator, Enrico Sangiorgio. Agency, Y&R, Rome. 
Client, Natural Beauty.

Illustrator, Gabriel Ramos. Agency, FCB Mayo, Lima. Client, Faber Castell.

Illustrator, Gabriel Ramos. Agency, FCB Mayo, Lima. Client, Faber Castell.

Illustrator, Anil Prasad. Agency, FCB ULKA, Gurgaon, India. 
Client, Meritnation.com.

Illustrator, Anil Prasad. Agency, FCB ULKA, Gurgaon, India. 
Client, Meritnation.com.

Illustrator, Chitra Gupta. Agency, Raediance, Delhi. Client, Engcafe.

Illustrator, Chitra Gupta. Agency, Raediance, Delhi. Client, Engcafe.

Illustrator, Juan Carlos Ariza. Agency, Ogilvy, 
Caracas. Client, Clight.

Illustrator, Juan Carlos Ariza. Agency, Ogilvy, 
Caracas. Client, Clight.

Illustrator, Michael Hsiung. Agency, Y&R, 
Auckland. Client, Blunt Umbrellas.

Illustrator, Michael Hsiung. Agency, Y&R, 
Auckland. Client, Blunt Umbrellas.

Illustrator, Thabang Lehobye. Agency, The Jupiter Drawing Room, 
South Africa .Client, Safari Charcoal.

Illustrator, Thabang Lehobye. Agency, The Jupiter Drawing Room, 
South Africa .Client, Safari Charcoal.


Illustrator, Redmer Hoekstra. Agency, Ogilvy & Mather, 
Hong Kong, Client, Faber Castell.

Illustrator, Redmer Hoekstra. Agency, Ogilvy & Mather, 
Hong Kong, Client, Faber Castell.

Illustrator, Adelmo. Agency, almapBBDO, São Paolo, Client, Aspirina.

Illustrator, Adelmo. Agency, almapBBDO, São Paolo, Client, Aspirina.

Illustrator, Renata El Dib. Agency, Y&R, São Paulo. 
Client, Hopi Hari Amusement Park.

Illustrator, Renata El Dib. Agency, Y&R, São Paulo. 
Client, Hopi Hari Amusement Park.


Illustrator, Yezid Starling Ciro Zapata. Agency, Y&R, Bogota. A door 
doesn't hit a woman for ironing a shirt the wrong way. Report women abuse. 
Client, Alta Consejeria Presidencial para La Equidad de la Mujer.

Illustrator, Yezid Starling Ciro Zapata. Agency, Y&R, Bogota. A table
doesn't hit a woman for serving a cold meal. Report women abuse. 
Client, Alta Consejeria Presidencial para La Equidad de la Mujer.

Illustration, Yashika Shah. Agency, Sir J.J Institute of 
Applied Art, Bombay. Client, World Wildlife Federation.

Illustration, Yashika Shah. Agency, Sir J.J Institute of 
Applied Art, Bombay. Client, World Wildlife Federation.

Illustration, Jeremy Kueng. Agency, Advico Young & 
Rubicam.Switzerland. Client, Psyko Comix Store.

Illustration, Jeremy Kueng. Agency, Advico Young & 
Rubicam.Switzerland. Client, Psyko Comix Store.

Illustration, Ricardo Martinez Tapsa. Agency, Y&R, Madrid. Client, Telepizza.

Illustration, Ricardo Martinez Tapsa. Agency, Y&R, Madrid. Client, Telepizza.