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Difference Between Graphic Design And Illustration

by David Paul Tweet - in Graphic Design

Graphic Design

Last updated on September 16th, 2021

“You can have an art experience in front of a Rembrandt… or in front of a piece of graphic design.” – Stefan Sagmeister

Many people do not distinguish graphic design from illustration. For them, both are more or less the same. But there is in fact a clear difference between the two. A graphic designer must clearly know this difference for a better understanding of the work in hand.

Graphic design and illustration are two separate creative fields. But they tend to overlap sometimes. Usually, graphic design is more seen as a commercial art. Illustration is viewed mostly as a fine art.

Graphic design is more about communicating with a target audience, while illustration is concerned mostly about a creative interpretation. Milton Glaser says, ‘To design is to communicate clearly by whatever means you can control or master.’

While illustration was once a dominating force in the creative world, now graphic design has become a huge part of contemporary culture. Graphic design is everywhere in the modern world. In fact, many graphic design works are considered as a new art form. For example, some logo designs by legendary graphic designers have become part of a culture. In fact, illustration jobs are ebbing away as graphic design is becoming commonplace.

Here Are Some Main Differences Between Graphic Design And Illustration

What Is Illustration?

First, let us talk about illustration. An illustration is a visual explanation of a text. It can also be a decoration or an interpretation of a text. At the same time, illustration can be a process or a concept.

Generally, an illustration is for its integration in published media such as magazines, books, posters, animations, teaching materials, flyers, video games, and films.


Therefore, the job of an illustrator is to provide a visual representation of an associated text or idea. So, we can say that an illustration is a drawing or a picture. It can be an act of creating the drawing, or an example to prove or explain something. For example, a picture accompanying a magazine article is an illustration.

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What Does An Illustrator Do?

An illustrator creates images. But these images that do not require attention from the viewers to a specific object on the canvas. The viewers see whole of the canvas and not a particular picture or image. These images are created to work with something.


However, an illustrator has to take some care. The illustrator does not aim at drawing a direct attention of the viewers to the whole of illustration. Still, the viewers are not distracted from the illustrator. The illustrator adds character to the main illustration. But the intention is only to make it notice. The illustrators have no such intention that viewers should focus on it.

Also Read: 10 Ways To Revitalize Your Illustrations.

What Is Graphic Design?

Graphic design is all about planning and projecting experiences and ideas. A graphic designer projects his or her ideas with textual and visual content. This is the reason that graphic design is also known as communication design. To communicate, a graphic designer can use virtual or physical communication tools such as images, graphic forms, and words.


Charles Eames says that ‘Design is an expression of the purpose, and it may (if it is good enough) later be judged as art; design depends largely on constraints and it is a method of action (there are always constraints and these usually include ethic).’

Graphic Design

Graphic design is about creating images that demand direct attention from the viewers. The designer makes the images with the sole purpose of bringing the focus of the viewers to the drawn object. All design elements are employed for this purpose only.

All of the design elements incorporated in a graphic design compete with each other for attention. But an experienced designer knows which elements should get focus first and which ones should get noticed in the end.

How Does A Graphic Designer Work?

Graphic designers are usually glued to their computers while creating logo designs etc using the mouse. You cannot offer a job of a graphic designer to an illustrator unless a professional knows has expertise in both these types of works. These fields require a different set of skills.An illustrator moves around and does drawing and painting in sketchbooks.

A graphic designer aims at conveying a message to target audience. To do so, there is a careful selection of design elements of colors, typefaces, images, symbols, and others.

For example, the designer may aim at evoking an emotion of passion and aggressiveness from the young audience. To evoke such emotions, the designer may incorporate red color. In case, a brand message is about hope and brightness, then yellow may the color of choice.

A graphic designer takes a client’s brief seriously to create a logo design, website design, and other graphic designs. The designer will also do some research into the client’s business.

There is always a target audience that a graphic designer intends to target in a design. Therefore, the designer wants to know more about the audience.

Then, a designer will pick colors and fonts that can evoke the particular set of emotions to target customers of a client.

Graphic Designer

When it comes to picking a right color scheme, a professional designer knows which set of colors and shades can convey a set of emotions. There are normally not more than two colors in a good design. More colors are incorporate only when it is absolutely necessary and is a requirement from a client.

Similarly, the right choice of typeface depends on many factors. For example, creative use of typeface in a graphic design is about giving a personality to the design.

For example, a law office logo will be designed using serif fonts to create a formal environment of law offices and services. A company making children’s toys or other product is likely to have a funny looking logo. Such a logo will be created using handwritten fonts.

Overall, a graphic designer picks each element to create a simple design. So, there are usually one or two colors and typefaces used in a logo, business card design etc. The aim here is to convey a brand message instantly at the first glance.

We can say that because of its commercial value, graphic designs are more in demand than illustrations. Almost all business owners prefer graphic design items for their marketing campaign to draw the attention of target customers.

Fortunately, graphic designing is within easy reach of small businesses and startups. This is thanks to crowdsourcing sites which deliver their design services at affordable prices to the businesses. They can afford to pay for professionally created logos and other designs, thus creating numerous graphic design jobs.

Designhill is one such leading crowdsourcing platforms for your business. This marketplace has hundreds of graphic designers who look for work. If you are also interested in redesigning your logo, website, business card, etc. marketing material, this site can deliver you amazing results and that too at a budget-friendly price.

All you need to do to get started is, launch your graphic design contest. Once you successfully launch the contest, dozens of designers will send their design entries in response to your contest. You can pick a logo design etc. worthy of representing your business in a competitive market.

If you do not like the designs, still there are no risks. The site will refund your entire money under its 100% Money Back Guarantee scheme.

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A graphic design has a specific intention and conveys a message to the people. For this, the designer uses the power of colors and typeface etc. to send out an intended message to a set of audience. Every element used in the graphic design has a definite purpose.

As against this, illustration has no such intention of delivering a message or drawing viewers attention. This is because the intention here is to just present something in the form of an art.

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I am a freelance designer & blogger developing high-quality content for businesses. I have written for many well-known brands and start-ups to engage users and customers. Get in touch with me Facebook | Twitter

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