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Do You Have What It Takes to Join the Club?
The other day I received a magazine from a local nonprofit. You know, one of those glossy, institutional, semi-educational, semi-promotional magazines that arrive every now and then, apparently in the hope that you’ll subscribe or send money, or both. This one was particularly interesting because they’d hired an excellent photographer. The pictures were beautifully composed and compelling, but every article was marred by two or three small stock illustrations: corny, trite, amateurish drawings that, for me, ruined the whole message. We’ve all seen them: the kind of illustrations that give stock a bad rap.
So Much Good Stuff
Detail from “Woke Girls,” an image by Marina Esmeraldo that celebrates women of color.
Why didn’t they take advantage of all the good stuff that’s available, I wondered: Stock illustration that is captivating, engaging, original, technically proficient, and that enhances the message the writer and client worked so hard to impart? Sure, it can take a bit of time to choose the right keywords and troll through pages of images. After all, it’s challenging for artists to come up with concepts and draw images that touch readers’ hearts and minds, especially if the subject matter is difficult and abstract.
But it can be done well and intelligently. Yesterday I combed Adobe Stock images to find the illustrations that best capture the concepts presented in their 2019 Visual Trend Forecast. I hope the results change some minds about using stock illustration. And maybe even your mind about becoming a stock illustration contributor yourself.
The first trend that Adobe forecasts is Natural Instincts. As more and more of our time is spent in front of screens, they report, people are seeking balance through nature. Consumers want natural ingredients in foods and cosmetics, and art directors need images that communicate physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. Here are a few examples:
What could express natural instincts better than this watercolor, a seamless botanical pattern with wildflowers, herbs, and a dragonfly by the Adobe Stock images contributor with the screen name Depiano? Like most successful contributors, she’s created a series with different seasons and plants — so the buyer has a wide choice.
The artist known as Koffotei has contributed an extensive series of paper cuts, which are actually vectors done in Illustrator.
This watercolor by Siim Mirjam, a Premium Contributor based in Porto, Portugal, perfectly expresses the peace many people find amidst plants and gardens. Like most Premium images on Adobe Stock, it licenses for $249.99. Mirjam also works directly for clients and sells her drawings at fairs and in shops.
This looks like a photograph, but this image of a diver finding beauty and peace in the undersea world is a painting by the contributor known as Grandfailure, who generally specializes in dystopian scenes.
This Matisse-like drawing of a prayer plant is a Photoshop rendering by Premium Contributor Marina Esmeraldo.
The Human Exchange
Creative Democracy is the moniker Adobe has chosen to represent social networking, live-streaming, capturing and sharing moments. We’ve all seen too many overused, trite images of people texting and sharing. But how about these Adobe Stock images?
This social media / technology / connection graphic concept by Rawpixel is a mixed-media jpeg with elements that can be deleted and/or changed in Photoshop.
Contributor Sergey Nivens offers a series of painterly, mixed media illustrations of various people sharing their content.
Think multicultural. This charming vector is a totally editable a.i. file by Molescostudio that celebrates all things Brazilian. Every object is carefully and individually grouped.
An important facet of this is Body Positivity. As trendsetting (and much-appreciated) advertisers are demonstrating, models don’t have to be bone-thin. And they don’t have to be in typical poses. This category also includes important, in-demand images of people of color, people with disabilities, and people excelling at difficult tasks.
Women tanning or modeling swimsuits don’t have to be skinny, as these curvy girls by Robert Filip demonstrate. Filip, who is based in Romania, has built a portfolio of hundreds of icon sets, backgrounds and other vectors that sell to buyers all around the world.
I was happy to find this drawing of a wide, beautiful older woman picking apples, by Siim Mirjam, I wish I could draw this well myself. But maybe you can, and add to the portfolios of quality stock that art directors and designers crave.
This intriguing painting of women of color with admirable body positivity is by Marina Esmeraldo.
And then there’s what they call Disruptive Expression. It’s all about protest and political resistance. Brands want to tap into the energy. But they don’t want stale, banal drawings of cartoon figures holding protest signs.
The illustrator known as Kentoh has uploaded many intriguing images that capture community and energy.
Here is how Alekss expresses the emotions of an unpolished, raw moment. How would you express it?
Consumers, especially Gen Z and Millennials, according to the Adobe Trend Forecast, want more from brands than products. They are loyal to companies with stated values, ethics, and a social purpose. Almost everyone knows the TV commercials that show how a certain dishwashing detergent cleans up sea birds damaged by oil spills; the advertiser isn’t afraid to show the negative side of things. Adobe calls it Brand Stand, which means communicating commitment to big issues like social justice and conservation.
Could this 3-D rendering by Elenarts be the background to an ad or the opening spread of a brochure about corporate commitment to ending pollution? Or could you come up with something better and license it yourself? Let Adobe know.
What About You?
Successful contributors spend time honing their craft; keep an eye out for interesting moments, themes and trends; stay organized and keep track of content, release forms and descriptions; and submit regularly and learn from what sells and what doesn’t. I suspect that if you’re reading this you already do this for your clients. Now it’s a matter of building a larger global client base; of creating an image once and selling it many times over. Some Adobe Stock images have literally sold thousands of times. Adobe pays a competitive royalty of 33%. Images by Premium Contributors (who are selected by invitation and noted as such in this post) typically license for $249.99 each.
What have you created — or could you create — that could be licensed and add to your income?