Conceptual Illustrators communicate their unique ideas using visual metaphor and simile. Conceptual illustration is often used in editorial work, in tech magazines, lifestyle magazines, in healthcare publications, in financial or technology articles, and is sought after because the work makes a statement about the subject that goes beyond what is expected, adding dimension and depth to the text.
A conceptual illustrator uses their unique perspective to examine the work to be illustrated. They consider the physical characteristics such as the size and shape of any objects to be drawn, the density, fragility of the objects, the space surrounding it or them, how an object might smell or taste. The illustrator focuses in particular on how the different objects and concepts relate to each other within the image and beyond the page. How does the idea being illustrated relate to other ideas, other subjects? Is there a parallel subject that could be illustrated to shed light on the concept the author has conveyed through the text? How does the concept/image relate to pop culture? To visual symbols, modern or historical? Each part of a concept-based illustration has a function and is a part of the topic being conveyed.
When the viewer sees the correlations and juxtaposed ideas in a conceptual illustration, they often laugh; the illustration has revealed a new perspective, a deeper insight into a complex topic the viewer hadn’t considered, or hadn’t vocalized.
No two people think exactly alike. Each of us sees the same subject in a different light; some viewpoints are very close, some very distant. Conceptual illustrations can help bridge that viewpoint gap using the power of symbols, by juxtaposing seemingly unrelated images into a uniquely creative work. It can make the essence of a complex topic visible to the viewer and make it emotionally accessible.
If a single picture tells a thousand-word story, a conceptual illustration tells a ten-thousand-word tale.