Design 101: Graphic Design Vs. Custom Illustration

Simon owns a sales agency. But he is also a writer. He recently published a series of books that talk about the techniques that make him successful. Understanding the importance of visuals in making his content attractive, Simon commissioned an artist to create artwork for the book.

The artist did a splendid job, and Simon felt elated. Now came the time to promote the book. Simon wanted the same artist to work on the marketing material work too. He wanted to design billboards, posters, and some digital advertisements. But, the artist clarified he only did illustrations and not graphic design.

This stumped Simon. He considered these to be an artist’s job and could not fathom the big difference.

Ever find yourself stuck in the same spot? Don’t have a clue what separates graphic design from custom illustration? Well, we are happy to help you. 

A Custom Illustration created through the Kimp Graphics subscription

Graphic Design vs. Custom Illustration 

For someone who seeks visuals to enhance their marketing efforts, understanding these technical nuances can be a pain. You just want your creatives to look really great, without spending a lot of time figuring out the ins and outs of the process. We get it. 

Let us simplify this for you. 

Custom illustrations are a visual representation of any text. People use them to explain a process, complex concept, or even to make a point impressively, with emphasis.

People consider illustrations to be art in principle and use them as beautifying elements too. They are often created with Adobe Illustrator.

In complete contrast, graphic design is a mixture of visual and textual content. Typically it involves a designer aiming to evoke emotion and convince the viewer to complete an action. 

Graphic design comes from a combination of images, typefaces, design elements put together strategically to attract an audience. 

Another important distinction between illustration and graphic design is possibly the skills needed to create them. Usually, an illustrator is someone who is artistic by nature or has had some formal art training. Most illustrations come from a blank canvas and need someone who knows how to conceptualize and execute them. 

Graphic design is more about the aesthetic and the message. Graphic designers benefit from their innate design sense but it is their knowledge of marketing and branding that takes the cake. 

Both illustrations and graphic design have a specific value in the design world. Some instances call for illustration, while others need graphic design.

How can your business use Custom Illustration?

A picture speaks a thousand words. How? With Custom Illustrations. Illustrations add life to your text and explain your two-page idea in a single image. 

Imagine someone is clicking through your ecommerce site to see if there’s anything worth buying. What do you think would convince them faster – pages of text or an illustration that clearly breaks down your value proposition?

We know the answer, yes. 

But, not so fast. Don’t confine custom illustrations to just one or the use case. Custom illustrations can go way beyond that. 

Just check out these popular ways businesses use illustrations:

Website Design 

What do you do when you hear about a brand? The first step for most of us is to look it up online. Your website is where people will come knocking to know more about you. And this isn’t always a good thing if you’re not prepared with a well-designed and easy-to-navigate site. 

Customers are busy and make snap judgments based on what they see. In fact, the average consumer decides whether to stay on a site within 15 seconds. And those first impressions can be very hard to undo.

Using custom illustrations that provide a unique experience for your customers can help you hold their attention long enough to convey your message. Just keep in mind that you may need to work with an illustrator to have your illustrations completed. And then a designer, who’s familiar with web design, to get your sliders or banners designed, using your illustration, copy, and any other components you’d like to include.

Art evokes emotions, and you can use it to your advantage.

Kimp Tip: Even when you’re using an illustration to impress and not communicate, choose a designer who can create something eye-catching and on-brand. That will help you form a strong brand identity in the market.

A Website Header Design with Custom illustrations by Kimp 
Infographic Design 

Long-form content and academic articles can help a business become a thought leader in the market. Besides, search engines love informative articles that make people stay on your site longer.

But, making someone reach the end of a piece of long-form content or a white paper can be a massive challenge. 

What if we told you there is a way to spice up, and drive traffic to, long-form content?

We’re talking about infographics.

Condense your 2000-word article into an attractive, engaging, and custom-made illustrated infographic. 

Infographics are highly shareable across all social media platforms and generate traffic for your blogs and articles by piquing everyone’s interest. 

They allow you to present your information in easy to skim illustrations for your busy audience. 

Kimp Tip: Infographics are tools to visualize your content. But, did you know you can use them to establish a compelling visual identity too? Similar to creating illustrations for your website, you can enlist the help of a graphic designer and an illustrator to make your infographic, or visual identity, come together. 

Or simply get Kimp Graphics and you’ll have access to an illustrator and graphic designer who work together to bring your content to life.

The example below is a business infographic by a Kimp Graphics team. It combines illustrated components with graphic design.

Book Cover Design

Attractive book covers urge people to pick up your book and give you a chance to tell your story. Or in the case of ebooks, they prompt them to click to learn more or even sign up for a download.

Custom illustrations aptly translate your story into a meaningful book cover. And after all your hard work, you don’t want a book cover design that doesn’t do it justice!

Generic and non-expressive images are a lot less likely to set your book apart on both e-commerce stores and bookstands – if at all.

You need something that is as painstakingly and passionately crafted as your book. And you can get that impact by incorporating custom illustrations.

Just check out the book cover designs below, created by Kimp, using custom illustrations.

Package Design 

Do you run a retail or an E-commerce store? Then you may have noticed how custom illustrations with doodles, artwork, and mascots are now taking over package design worldwide. 

Using illustrations in package design lends a personal touch and amps up your brand awareness initiatives. If you are a small business owner trying to establish a tone for your brand, illustrations are your best bet.

These illustrations can be an extension of your branding or even form the base of your brand identity. More about that in our sections on brand identity design and Graphic Illustration section below.

An illustrated product packaging mockup by a Kimp Graphics team.

Kimp Tip: Custom illustration can help your brand connect with your audience on a deeper level. Consider including them in your brand style guide and discuss having different versions of the illustrations so that you can use them seamlessly across different packages.

Try out Kimp Graphics to explore more ways to integrate illustrations with your branding.

SWAG design 

SWAG or “Stuff We All Get” is the merchandise you give away to your loyal customers. Or that you use to spread brand awareness through promotional events, offers, and giveaways. 

Designing T-shirts, mugs, key chains, or caps with generic prints is way too easy with all the ready-to-print websites out there. Add to that, merchandise changes a lot of hands. It brings you tags on social media and becomes an advertisement in and of itself. So, why choose something generic that a thousand other brands may be using?

Illustrations are unique, handcrafted, and designed to suit your brand. Which  means that anyone who sees your illustration will tie high-quality visuals, and standards, to your brand. 

It is time to go custom and choose custom illustration for your SWAG designs.

Popular Graphic Design Uses 

Now that you know where to leverage the power of custom illustration for your business, let’s move on to graphic design.

Businesses employ graphic design agencies to create eye-catching designs to attract customers to their offerings.

But, graphic design does much more for a business. Let’s check it out in detail.

Brand Identity Design 

In the journey from a business to a brand, you rely heavily on the power of visual marketing. Your logo, brand name design, font style, storefront design, and sign designs all factor into making you memorable.

Graphic design is your ally here.

Creating a memorable brand identity is no easy feat. Marketing knowledge, customer research, experience, and a lot of experimentation finally leads to a design that clicks.

And graphic design  can position your illustrations or other branded images in a way that communicates a strong message to your audience. 

Image + Positioning + Color Psychology + Design Iterations + Styling = Graphic Design = A Strong Brand Identity 

So, when you sit down to create a brand style guide, you need a team that understands graphic design like the back of their hand.

A Custom Logo Design by Kimp 
Marketing Material Design 

Branding is in place. Package design is ready. Your website is ready. Even the merchandise looks amazing.

But, now you have to promote them. Make them reach your audience on and off the internet. So, what do you do? You invest in marketing collateral.

Marketing collaterals can be web or print-based. They include advertisements, flyers, posters, billboards, newsletters, social media posts, business cards, restaurant menus, website banners, presentations, videos, and GIFs. 

Graphic design allows you to leverage the art you have and play to the sensibilities of your customers with stylized layouts, fonts, and interactive content.

If you have to reach the masses, you must turn art into products customers understand. And that’s what graphic design does. 

A Business Card design by Kimp

The best of both worlds – Graphic Illustration 

Custom illustrations and graphic design are great on their own. But when you combine them you leverage the power of both to create unforgettable creatives.

This is crucial because a brand always needs a unique voice that allows its message to stand out above the noise in the market. 

Graphic Illustration helps you achieve that voice.

By combining the principles of custom illustration with the techniques designers use in graphic design, you create something artistic. At the same time it’s tuned to appeal to your customer base.

A phenomenon that celebrates art but makes it accessible to everyone.

Design teams that understand the importance of custom illustrations for a brand know how to position them strategically via graphic design, through graphic illustration. 

For example, an illustrated infographic that speaks of your customer service achievements can make a great base layer for a digital advertisement.

And adding the illustration you have of your mascot will bring a unique and personal layer to the informational video you post on Instagram.

A podcast cover design by Kimp using Graphic Illustration 

Get design and illustration off your to-do list with Kimp 

Design is your weapon of choice to build a strong brand and stand apart from the competition. But that one word holds many disciplines and services. Juggling all these balls can become time consuming and overwhelming at some times. Especially when it takes you away from running your business.

Choose Kimp for your design needs – artistic creatives (custom illustrations), marketing creatives (graphic design and illustration), and interactive creatives (GIFs, motion graphics and videos). We do it all.

Our flat rate design subscriptions give you the freedom to experiment with your marketing plan without worrying about the bill you are racking up.

Ready to go no holds barred, and explore the world of design?

Sign up for the free trial today.