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Should graphic designers illustrate?

Straight to the point. I see myself as a 'graphic designer' and not an 'illustrator'.

To what extent are they mixable? Should I be expected to create illustrations as a graphic designer?


Well-Known Member
Realistically it depends if you can actually draw, and it depends on the type of illustration. I see illustration as a separate discipline but there are overlaps. I personally wouldn't expect you to illustrate a children's book or a comic for example (you could hire Me or Typo or Wardy or any number of illustrators for that...) but a client might want you do create a logo that incorporates a face or something, or a pattern for a background... more abstract vector illustrations like that would overlap into graphic design.

If you need something outside of your skill-set it's not uncommon for designers to outsource specific elements of a project to an illustrator.


I think it depends on how you market yourself, what position you're at and what the client expects and is willing to pay for.

If your clients are used to you doing odd jobs then they would probably not hesitate to ask you to do some illustration, whereas if you kept your jobs strictly in one area then they might not. If their budget allows for them to hire someone who 'specifically' does one area of design then they might do that, but if they are happy working with one person who covers multiple areas (jack of all...) then they might do that too, especially if they aren't looking for something that is going to require the absolute highest of standards.

And yeah, it definitely depends what it is, as Jimlad rightly says, if the job only requires small elements of illustration then fair enough, but if the entire job revolves around illustration then it might be better to outsource that job to someone else.


Sounds about right, I don't think there is any definitive right or wrong though. As long as the client is happy and you're able to deliver what they want then why not?


I can do both.. But my illustration isn't as good as it could be.. so if its needed I outsource to my betters :)

Tony Hardy

I don't illustrate at all. I sketch ideas out in my book, but that's as adventurous as it gets. Would never dream of taking an illustration job on for client, as I can't actually draw. I can get my thoughts down, and that's enough for me.


Senior Member
It's an interesting debate. it is possible to do both but I think when looking at someones work who classes themself as a designer/illustrator its normal that they will be stronger at one than the other.
I would class myself as someone who does both, mainly because Ive always loved drawing and would have loved to have been a full time illustrator, but I took a decision whilst at uni that I would be more employable as a designer. I would say my natural talents lean more towards illustrating but Ive managed to teach myself enough design skills to make a career out of that.