Making illustration distinctive, authentic and so appealing, that it would engage audiences and eventually gets nominations is a dream of every art buyer and illustrator.

After Owl Agency’s pro illustrator Bessa has been nominated for this year’s World Illustration Awards , we analyzed two main reasons why illustrations remain the best visual content even in the age of generative AI bots.

In the age of generative AI, custom made illustration has to be able to both capture your attention, and be authentic. The advantage of commissioning professional illustration is simple. Unlike with the AI, the artist is able to iterate and develop the idea further, without discarding the previous versions. Here are two reasons, why you should always opt for hiring a professional artist, when thinking about getting the award winning content.

Cover by Bessa

1. The Art

No matter if you are looking for illustration covering latest tax changes in Switzerland, or communicating a soda brand in the U.S. Human mind is the only thing that adds real value to visual content. It shows, that somewhere, someone, was thinking hard about the audience and stakeholders and used its skills to deliver thoughts in universal way.

Yes, you are guessing right. The word you are looking for, is Art. Despite decades of creative economy, where we managed to suppress it and replace with words such as “content creation”, or “engaging communication”, these are not enough anymore.

Because even in most basic commission, you are probably after something more. Some notion of spirit, or a feeling, that would help you or your brand to connect with the audiences. You are looking for Art.

2. Iterations and improvements

Newsflash: Generative AI can not improve and iterate first drafts. As an art director, creative director you are destined to either take “first shot” that drops out of the mind of AI, or rely on endless new regenerations of your prompt.

What does it mean?
Imagine, you ask for an illustration of nice girl on city street. The AI would return you an illustration of girl, however, with European inspired street. There is no way, you would be able to ask the AI to “keep the girl” and change the street in simple way. A prompt engineer, and paid access to higher bandwith will be needed to achieve change of street with at least similar girl.

With professional illustrator, the improvements and feedback rounds are easy. Just let the artist know, to change only a background, to streetscape you like.

So, how to make award winning illustrations in the age of AI. Should it be ditched?

If you want to achieve award winning artworks (such as the ones nominated for World Illustration Awards by Bessa), always insist on hiring real, professional illustration artists.
Opting for “quick fix” of simple prompt to AI will get you nowhere.

However, this does not mean AI is bad. Quite the opposite. Explore and search, but not for tools.
Look for artists who can actually use prompts or implement the generative AI in their works.
In the end, Generative AI bots are just new tools, which will help humans to create new exciting things, and artworks.

Illustrations by Bessa, from book What If Glaciers Melted. Artworks have been all nominated for World Illustration Awards Longlist.