How to be relevant when working with illustration? The thinking starts by acknowledging that none of us has enough capacity to consume all the information out there. The question is, what part are we processing and how did it get selected?

Generally people like to hear stories. But which ones you should focus on to illustrate? Great lead here can be media around us and trending hashtags. Something new happens everyday and when it does, media and people’s attention focus on it. Topics tend to hang around for a bit and then people refocus on to something new. However, most of the themes present in media tend to oscillate around political concepts of society.

Versatile political concepts

Why? The keyword here is balance. If something is off, someone get hurt. And if someone gets hurt, people tilt their heads and ask: What happened?

If you want to create an illustration with a meaning, focus on themes of political concepts… like injustice, prioritisation or freedom of choice. You don’t need to criticise, just observe. Try to capture emotion of the person in such situation.

Focus on emotions in situations like: 

  • injustice towards person
  • social inclusion
  • favourite son
  • freedom of choice
  • social power
  • more here

Illustration by Tobi

Illustration by Magoz

“Examples of social power present in today’s world.” 

Popular themes of today’s world are: 

  • social distancing
  • care for people
  • diseases spread
  • people of medicine
  • new beginnings
  • mental health
  • care for planet

People of varying physical abilities and appearances

If we want to be relevant, we can’t pretend there are only white / straight / healthy / thin / one gender / people walking on the planet. Nor can we pretend, that only those consumers are relevant for companies and consumer markets. In fact economic mobility is shifting, so should be our focus on people of different ethnicities and appearances.

“We are also not all thin and big butts are beautiful.” 

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Relevance and understanding goes hand in hand. Why is sport so attractive for people? Because it represent physical form of overcoming barriers of our own bodies. And because it gets physical, it is easy to understand. Overcoming fear or anxiety is hard to portray, but you can always pick up a sport metaphor.

Woman overcoming obstacles by Franz

Playing solo by Nicola

Collaboration by Judit

Running over the limits by Daniel

Thanks for your attention. And don’t forget to come to Owl Agency or Minty to create your illustrations.