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Illustrations: between the world of imagination and reality

On Red Dot 21, this category presents stunningly beautiful illustrations from around the world for a variety of different uses. Most people first come across illustrations in their childhood, paging through picture books from the comfort of their parent’s lap. In this way, they discover imaginative drawings, familiar or new objects and landscapes, meet endearing characters and strange creatures, and carry these individual images with them on their travels, forays and adventures into uncharted and mysterious new worlds. This use of illustrations shows just what they can achieve. They can tell stories without needing words, create characters with whom the viewer can identify, but also others that do not find their equal in the real world such as super heroes, monsters, trolls, dragons and mythical beings. They can depict reality, exaggerate, distort or explain it – or give fantastical ideas shape. With simple means, they can make facts easy to understand or put events into a different context. The potential of illustrations is enormous, the possibilities they offer virtually endless and their application correspondingly varied. We find illustrations in books and newspapers, in games and films, in science, business and advertising, in analogue and digital settings, in static and animated versions, in two- or three-dimensional form. Illustrators use a range of different techniques and styles, some of them producing all their work on computers while others only work with analogue methods and many use a combination of both.

Pictorial representations in corporate communications

Images play an important role in corporate communications, as well, in order to make complex issues understandable. The word “illustration” is derived from the Latin verb “illustrare” which means “enlighten”, “illuminate”, “elucidate“. In this instance, schematic representations or entertaining information graphics can shed light on things. There are also examples of brands which rely on illustrations for their brand design in order to create an image for themselves in the outside world – in the truest sense of the word. In doing so, they aim to increase the level of recognition and form a strong emotional bond with their customers. Just think of brands like McDonalds with Ronald McDonald, Michelin’s chubby little man or Esso’s tiger in the tank. Even without such a mascot, the use of illustrations instead of photos has its advantages in advertising. As ad illustrations are no longer as common as they were even a few decades ago, illustrated ads now stand out and make people look twice. Particularly accomplished and multi-faceted illustrations attract potential buyers and almost magically draw them into the image. In the Red Dot Award: Communication Design there is a competition category, just like on Red Dot 21, which specialises in illustrations and bears the same name. This is where design experts get to grips with the illustrations submitted and award the best of them a Red Dot. But a look at other categories also pays dividends as there are plenty of amazing examples of illustrations and their uses to be discovered. We would like to recommend looking at “Advertising”, “Film & TV” and “Game Design”. We wish you an exciting journey of discovery.