No one tool or process lias had as much influence on the methods employed by the illustrator as the computer. If it is the pencil that wields the power, then it is the computer that harnesses that power and enables the illustrator to transform the pencil mark into a seemingly never-ending array of new marks. The rebirth and re-interest in the craft of illustration can be attributed directly to the role that the computer has played.
The computer lias helped to place illustration on a level with other disciplines, and the range of digital possibilities - coupled with the technical power now found within the reach of most illustrators has ensured a more equal relationship with design. Illustrators, with the aid of digital processes, arc returning to the roots of the practice. Illustration first grew from a branch of graphic design that was commercial art, and now increased involvement with projects and commissions during the design stage has begun to echo that early approach as illustrators increasingly work across the board.
Creating artwork that was 'camera ready' became the only technical requirement for illustrators in the years leading to the digital revolution; as many were working less in design studios and more and more from their own studios and homes, it was easy for designers to keep them out of the loop when it came to making design decisions about projects. Digital technology started to change the input that illustrators would have, allowing opportunities for discussion and debate about reproduction issues, print processes and paper stocks, as well as entirely digital outlets for illustration such as the Web and television, Contributing to these changes in practice were both the power and knowledge, digital illustrators now had access to and the ease of communication afforded by email and mobile phone technology. I rom their own freelance workspace illustrators could work alongside designers with communication lines open at all times.
A relationship built on trust began to evolve slowly as illustrators started to emerge from the dawn of their own digital age - albeit ten years after the desk-top revolution had re-energised graphic design - with portfolios of work that impressed a younger more streetwise design community. Constantly looking for new ways of expressing ideas and communicating to their clients, graphic design saw a fresh approach to image-making in digital illustration. Impressed with the ability to harness both absolute skills in drawing and image manipulation alongside the vast array of possibilities that the digital opened up, graphic design began to recognise the importance of illustration within the design process.
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