To illustrate or not to illustrate, that is the question

To illustrate or not to illustrate, that is the question

by Tepino on April 17, 2017
To illustrate or not to illustrate, that is the question

By Dana Koman

Recently, we developed a product package design for a client that needed a special touch. We toyed with the idea of using illustration, photography or creating the package entirely through graphic design. Each option offered various pros and cons to the project.

So how do you pick the right style for your product? You’d hope the answer would be easy, but the truth is, creative branding is more complex than you’d think.

First, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all with any industry or product. For example, successful food brands, historically, have used illustration, graphic design and photography – sometimes all in one.

Nutella, a guilty pleasure for us at Tepino, has a graphic logo, yet employs illustration on its packaging – the scrumptious-looking spread on a piece of bread next to a flower and two hazelnuts. And who could forget the infamous Campbells Soup labels illustrated by renowned artist Andy Warhol?

Nowadays, a package design could employ aspects of all three types of production – photography, illustration and graphic design. In fact, no matter how a product label is produced, chances are it’s been enhanced or modified digitally in one way or another.

Going beyond package design, consider this: For photography, production doesn’t end with the click of the camera shutter. In post-production – when the photoshoot is finished – graphic designers are retouching photos by smoothing uneven skin, adding highlights to hair, and even changing the color of clothing as needed.

This same post-production use of graphic design also happens with illustration.

Ultimately, no matter how you begin a project, we believe it’s important to consider all options, especially at the beginning. But also recognize that one route is not the end-all be-all. A designer may use illustration in their design while an illustrator may design their illustrations.

Simply put, each case is unique. Tepino believes the decision shouldn’t be based on what everyone else is doing, but based on what reaction you want to gain from the consumer who’s buying your product. We believe never follow, always lead.