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Why I switched from Graphic Design to Illustration

Honestly, I picked graphic design as a career option over illustration because I thought that my drawing skills weren't good enough.

I knew I was creative so I studied visual communication in college which was the "appropriate" pathway into a graphic design career. Once I graduated, I started working in the digital advertising and public relations industry as a graphic designer. It was exactly what I wanted; I got to work with cool brands that I liked, designing branding guidelines, logos, posters, merchandise, social media visuals, and even animations.

Sometimes, the designs needed illustrations, which we licensed off of Shutterstock and edited as needed (this is a very common practice). I realised that I was spending 70% of my time finding the right illustration, and only 30% on the other stuff.

I realised that the right illustration could communicate the whole story, with emotion. For me, this defined "visual communication" way more than graphic design did.

So, I taught myself to draw from scratch using Skillshare. It took two years to get to a point where I could draw what I visualised in my head in a style that I developed.

I shared my progress on instagram. As a challenge, I focused on trying to visually communicate the experiences of struggling with mental health issues. It was perfect since advocating for mental health is very important to me and something that I knew I couldn't articulate using words. It was the best challenge I could give myself.

The stories and emotions I was communicating allowed me to connect with so many other people. This is when I realised that I'm working in the wrong industry!

Since then, I've been developing my illustrations so that I can communicate not just my stories but help other people, companies, and brands share theirs.

I do have to say that graphic design taught me extremely important skills like the importance of composition, scale, and visual hierarchy that I bring into every single one of my illustrations. It will always be a part of how I create art and how I visualise my thoughts.

So I guess I'm an illustrator now! But who says you can't be a graphic designer and an illustrator?! [Probably uptight HR managers and career counsellors who want you to pick a title so you can fit into their limited concepts of career paths] 👀🙄🤪

P.S. links in this article are not sponsored, they just had a genuinely important role in my journey!

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