Advertising Illustration

Advertising is a tough sector to break into and is not for the faint-hearted; it can be a brutal environment for the freelance illustrator. In return for punishing schedules, unrealistic deadlines, lack of creative decision-making and being told what to do and sometimes how to do it, there is, however, the promise of the advertising fee. It is generally recognised that an increase in fees equates to the increased pressure felt when undertaking most advertising commissions.

Agency Structures

All advertising agencies are structurally similar. Within the art department an art director will work hand-in-hand with a copywriter under the head of art or the creative director, normally responsible for a number of similar two-person creative teams/partnerships. Art directors create the visual properties whilst the copywriter creates the written word or spoken script, for any advertising campaign.

Working alongside the art department of an advertising agency is the art-buying department. This manages the freelance sources of artwork: the photographers, model-makers, directors, animators and illustrators. The art buyer keeps abreast of developments, trends, fashions and movements in each of the key disciplines by attending exhibition openings, scouring the art and design press and constantly calling in portfolios of work from individual practitioners and agencies representing the best in contemporary work. The art-buying department handles a vital aspect of the day-to-day running ol an advertising agency, as much of the talent utilised in

Despite the frustrations of working in advertising, the opportunity for visual creativity outside of the norm is of genuine appeal to most illustrators.

the creation and production of any advertising campaign is bought in, hired especially for the project.

The account handler ensures the relationship between the advertising agency and the client runs smoothly, their main role is to liaise and coordinate each project for the agency and client. They are also responsible for making presentations of creative work to the client, sometimes without a member of the creative team and certainly always without the illustrator present. Sitting outside of the creative loop can lead to frustration for the freelance illustrator; client responses, changes and alterations to visuals or artwork are all relayed via the account handler, Be warned, this is a line of communication longer than the illustrator may find beneficial.


A strong advertising campaign will aim to immerse itself and the product into the public's subconscious. It will seek to present an idea and an image for that product that becomes instantly recognisable, creating brand awareness and a product personality. Advertising utilises a range of media in its pursuit of brand/product recognition: from posters on billboards, bus sides and shelters, referred to as outdoor media', to TV and cinema commercials known as on-air media'. The scope is endless and to the illustrator working on an advertising campaign, the effect of such coverage can be enormous.

In recent years campaigns have become less regional and more international. With increased outlets for advertising, there is greater public recognition of campaigns and the associated product. Running hand-in-hand with this are the associations made with the illustration style and the visual identity of the campaign. This can be hugely beneficial if the product is deemed 'cool' or has entered the public Zeitgeist as it encourages other companies to commission the same illustrator, hoping for associations lo be made. More frequent though, is the downside; the work remains connected to a product long after any 1

2-4. Press, Web and TV advertising 'Think About It' by Kia Motors Pete Fowler for Mustoes Design Agency. 2004

An advertising campaign for Kia Motors saw Pete Fowler create a range of applications that were used in various media across the campaign. Unique type design, character design as well as animated sequences for use on TV and in Web-based promotions gave the company a branding that stood apart from mainstream car manufacturers' advertising offerings.

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