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Commissioned Illustration Versus Stock Illustration Sites 10/11

Source: Simon Heard

In common terms, the basic difference between commissioned illustrations and stock illustrations are comparable to that between designer wear and readymade garments churned out by a clothing factory. Both designer clothing and commissioned illustrations represent the creative excellence of an individual, have a unique personality, take special effort and time to take shape and, hence, come with a high price tag. Creating readymade garments and stock illustrations also require effort, time and design skills but they do lack the creativity and uniqueness of the designer pieces. They are functional and deliver practical value, and are available off the shelf.

The debate on how these illustration types fare against each other has been raging for several years now. While graphic design and stock illustrations seem to be clear winners on the marketing and advertising fronts, as well as in digital publishing; conventional print media and select websites still opt for commissioned illustrations to make the articles more interesting.

Use of Illustrations

Visuals create a lasting impression on the viewers mind when compared to text or voice media. Illustrations usually accompany textual content to simply make the content more appealing and understandable to the reader, often serving to highlight the summary information, key aspects or interesting bits of the content. With the advent of digital media, illustrations too have gone digital, to keep pace with digital content rendered on the Internet.

Source: Simon Heard


Web pages heavily rely on illustrations to make the content user-friendly and interesting. Most web pages commonly settle for stock illustrations and graphics to convey the message, in a clear and precise manner. Business websites in particular are more focused on the functional aspects of the site rather than aesthetics, and hope to achieve their business objectives in a cost-effective manner. Off-the-shelf stock-illustrations help these sites break the monotony of content using appropriate images.

Online Marketing

Advertisements and promotional content on the Internet certainly cannot afford to be abstract or ambiguous. They too adopt interesting graphics or photographs alongside an explicit marketing slogan to quickly capture the attention of the Internet user, who is known to have very little patience. Artistic commissioned illustrations probably are an over-kill in this context.

Digital Publications

Digital publications seriously lack commissioned illustrations. They rely totally on stock illustrations, with news items either displaying the photograph of an eminent personality related to the article, or an image of a business establishment office or structure, an image of a product and so on, hardly leaving any space for imagination, even if the off-beat news cannot be described by the standard collection of photographs.

The Winner

There is no clear winner in this battle. Stock Illustrations are the way to go when looking for a quick, cost-effective way to spruce up blocks of continuous content, every time new content is created, especially when the illustrations in no way impact the bottom line. Commissioned Illustrations are both effort and time-intensive, cost more, but they offer a very unique perspective to the article, adding a touch of imagination to a fictitious concept. Stock illustrations totally rely on reality; things have to be present and perceivable to be captured on film.

Sinage Design offers professional typography, illustration and branding pakages at affordable prices. For a cool graphic design in Brighton visit  sinagedesign.co.uk.

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