Web Illustrations Going Stale: Why, And How To Avoid It

Web Illustrations Going Stale: Why, And How To Avoid It

Illustrations are great for visual communication, merging the clarity of graphic design, and the expressiveness of art. Even a simple Architectural illustration can work wonders for putting a bit of personality, humor, and clarity to a site, its brand, and the message it’s trying to convey.

Of course, illustrations have their limits. It’s become obligatory to have on sites, which is why problems are starting to arise. Illustrations are all about telling a story, and using imagination to stand out. Without that je ne sais quoi, illustrations become hindrances, and they blend with the products and services on the sites.

Originality and personality is what makes illustrations work, so them becoming just another thing on sites threatens their viability. Here are the things that need to be watched out for.

Lack of cleverness

Illustrations have long been used as a form of social commentary; just take a look at the illustrations on newspapers. That’s because they’re great at clarifying things in an instant.

So, what happens when they lack their ability to instigate? Well, they’re just there to embellishing or instructing, which takes away from their ability to tell a story. They become dull, and “just another thing” to look at.

Some concepts, admittedly, are hard to illustrate. Some things aren’t exactly exciting and/or easy to tie to human experiences. That’s why illustrators need to look at an idea from all angles, even digging up the dark side, if need be. Remember, that illustrations show the good and the bad; it gives them much more oomph.


Imitation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Artists have long since looked at others’ styles, and replicated it. Ideally, this means they’re growing by adding their own flourishes to it; examining it, deconstructing it, and seeing what can be learned from it.

Well, the problem is that that isn’t how it goes now; lots of people copying the styles of others, misappropriating the attributes, and adding entropy.  That means there’s no room for evolution.

References are all well and good; people need to see things to reinterpret them. There are ways to look at something that’s been done before, like an old Architectural illustration, and then come up with a fresh take. Changing up the medium, putting restrictions, making a blind reinterpretation (without seeing the reference itself); these are all valid ways to come up with a different style from something that’s been done.