Why you should use photos to communicate…

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Here’s a handy tip for how to get better work out of illustrators…

On behalf of my clients, I work with a graphic artist I really appreciate. Not only is he fast and reliable, he can also illustrate — a talent not in the quiver of all graphic designers. One of the things I’ve learned by working with him is the value of communicating in pictures.

Photos, to him, are like words are to me. They’re the currency in which he works. They’re the basic building blocks of his profession. They convey tone, meaning, colour and texture.

Whenever I send my guy an assignment, I try to do more than simply write an email. Now, I review some of my favourite stock photo databases and send him a selection of photos as well.

It’s so much more helpful to be able to say: We want a woman (or a man) who looks like the one in photo A. Or, we want this person to be wearing clothes like the subject in photo B. Or, we want this person to be in a setting that looks like photo C. Just yesterday, I needed a pile of objects in an illustration and I ambled through a photo database to figure out exactly what those objects might be. Invaluable!

You can and should do the same if you’re ever hiring someone to produce illustrations for you. Sites such as Bigstock, istock, and fotolia contain thousands of images you can search — for free — by keyword. You don’t have to buy the photos to send them to someone. (You need to buy them only if you’re going to publish them somewhere.) So, just copy the image. Don’t worry about the watermark across it; your graphic artist will be able to see beyond it.

A picture is worth a thousand words, says the old expression, and I’ve learned it to be true — especially when communicating with graphic artists.

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