Talented illustrator Natalia Moroz speaks about 5 features of good stock illustrations and the ways to develop these features in your works.
1. Originality: A good illustration contains simple things depicted in the author’s own vision. Creating an illustration for stock agencies means producing something totally new. You shouldn’t be afraid to try new techniques, look for bright characters, and apply original solutions. Try to find a subject which is not too popular in stocks; look for your own niche. Your way of thinking should be unconventional; that will help you to realize fresh ideas in your own style.
2. Great idea and its implementation: Each illustration carries a certain idea. An artist’s mastery of his craft determines whether this idea will be understood by the audience. Many entry-level illustrators learn from the works of other artists, and even copy their ideas. This is absolutely fine when a person is learning his craft. However, if an illustrator keeps on copying someone else’s ideas, he will never surpass other authors – and he probably won’t even reach their level. Your own ideas matter. Luckily, there are so many ways to develop your own ideas. Try to notice unusual things in everything around you, in your everyday life. Write down new ideas in order to use them in your works later.
I really do like these brainstorming rules that Alex Osborn formulated in 1919:
1. Focus on quantity (of ideas).
2. Withhold criticism.
3. Welcome unusual ideas.
4. Combine and improve ideas.
3. Universality/Flexibility: The more universal your illustration is, the higher your sales rate will be. A universal image can be used anywhere: in advertising, in design, in books and magazines, etc. An illustrator who works for stock agencies has to be able to look at different things from various perspectives. Try to perceive things globally; do not follow one single mode of thinking.
4. High quality: Quality is better than quantity. Rather than produce a lot, produce something of high quality. Stock agencies are very competitive, and the market is getting more and more challenging each year. You can have a high sales rate only if you combine quantity with quality; produce images that will inspire their own demand. Your illustration has to be expressive: it must draw attention, trigger emotions, and form the core of the text it is used for. In order to be a success in stocks, you should have a high-quality portfolio.
5. Applicability: Before starting to draw, you should find out which subjects will be in demand. It is really difficult to offer one single recipe for success; however, you should recognize some common factors. Everything that can be used in advertising (for banners, magazines, websites) is popular. I suppose that the majority of stock buyers are designers. Try to think like a designer! From time to time you should also look through top-selling images and keywords. Try to look at your illustrations as if you were a buyer. Would you like to buy them and use them for your products? If the answer is yes, you are doing the right thing.
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