TASK: Identify ways in which designers, illustrators and other visual communicators present and market their work online and in the world. Visit companies or galleries to pick up physical marketing material, or look at websites and blogs that aim to do the same thing. Think about how others present their practices visually and how they describe them. Identify
areas of good practice you can draw on by looking at the format, structure and content of self-promotional material.
You’ll find online portfolios as bespoke websites, but you’ll also find various illustrators and graphic designers represented within these social networks:
What do you think works for other designers and what could work for you? Reflect on the material and identify strategies that you can develop for yourself. Think about how others have used a network of different platforms online.
Finishing your work
At some point in your practice, whether you’re working for a client or producing work for
yourself to exhibit, you’ll need to create high-quality finished outcomes. Such outcomes can
involve commercial or digital printing, mounting existing artwork, scaling your work up, or
making the jump out of your sketchbooks. High-quality artwork means producing something
that looks professional, works for the context it’s intended for and is resilient enough to be
used. What it doesn’t mean is you suddenly needing to adopt glossy printing, double-mounted
frames, foam board, or any other print technique or display system that might not be in the
spirit of your work or the context you’re working in.
Going from sketchbook to finished artwork can be problematic, as pointed out in Part One.
There can be a tendency to tighten up your approach and in the process lose many of the
aspects that make your work enjoyable. One of the reasons there’s been so much emphasis
on reflecting on your practice in this course, is the need to be aware of what makes your
work successful. Finishing your work is as much a part of your creative process as your idea
development. So leave time to play and experiment with the kinds of finishes you can achieve,
reflect on the results and continue to develop your artwork in response to what you’ve found
The choices you make in how you prepare your artwork can have a hugely positive effect in
amplifying the qualities of your work, but this does mean recognising the nature of your work
and making choices that are sympathetic to it. For example, if your illustrations hinge on small
delicate drawings with subtle use of colour, you’ll need to be conscious of this in how you
scan your work, print it and the kind of paper you use. All your choices need to maintain this
delicacy: low-resolution scanning, poor-quality printing and rough paper will all act against
you; high-resolution scanning, colour adjustments in Photoshop, quality digital printing (which
you may need to source externally) and smooth paper will all maintain the qualities of your
work. Alternatively, you may want to cut out digitally scaling up a small drawing from your
sketchbook and do it by hand. Projecting your work onto a larger surface could be a starting
point to recreate the work, or scale up your thin pencil for something thicker and produce new
and larger original pieces. The quality of your work may lie in the dynamics of colour, the rough
use of line or grungy typography, in which case your choices need to keep hold of these things.
Photocopies, printmaking, generating large-scale original artwork, or using new materials to
recreate your sketchbook ideas, can all work in this context.
Producing high-quality visual outcomes might be limited by what resources you have available.
Working creatively within your restrictions can make the most of what you have, especially
if you factor the production into your creative thinking early on. Ultimately, it’s your visual
ideas that will deliver a successful outcome, not the quality of the final printout. Avoid overemphasising
the finish, so your choices don’t distract from your visual ideas. Over-mounting
work, unnecessary framing, adding on extra layers of gloss or other embellishments can all get
in the way. That said, the final printout has to communicate your visual ideas, so it needs to be
good enough to transmit them.
For many visual communicators finishing their work is synonymous with the reproduction of it
through printing or digital means. You may have finished the artwork but if the final outcome
is mediated through print, then this is the real context you need to think about in terms of your
Commercial printing covers a wide range of different technologies and processes such as
offset lithography and silkscreen as well as choices around paper stock, finishes and folds. Use
it to produce multiple copies of your work. Professional printing only becomes viable if you’re
printing hundreds if not thousands of copies. It’s important to know how these technologies
work, especially if you’re focused on graphic design, publishing or want to think about your
illustrations within such contexts. A visit to your local printers is easy to organise and worth the
effort. Digital printing offers a cheaper but no less professional alternative. Working with digital
printers allows for viable one-off or shorter print runs; it also offers the opportunity to work on
different scales and surfaces. Large-scale digital printing is offered at high street print shops or
as part of many commercial print companies.
To print your artwork successfully through commercial or digital printing, make sure that:
• your work is scanned at a high resolution and potentially scaled up according to the print
size – aim for 300 dpi at the least
• your images are formatted in CMYK not RGB
• all associated images and fonts are copied with your DTP files or embedded when you
produce your print-ready PDF
• suitable bleeds and other registration marks are in place
• pagination is sorted out, if you’re working on more than one page.
If you have any doubts, talk to your printer directly.
Alternatively, you can create your artwork to be seen in different online contexts, such as PDF
or JPG files you can share via emails or social media, online videos or animations hosted on
YouTube (Link 1) or Vimeo (Link 2), or by creating your own bespoke website or using existing
blog sites to do something similar.