It all goes back to storytelling next to the campfire in the stone ages apparently. Or that’s what I’ve heard to explain why we all find the flickering of TV, console, tablet and billboard screens so compelling. They naturally attract, and hold, our attention, and provide an exciting and immersive medium for artists to design unique artworks that can build your brand’s story. And who better to design these short pieces of visual storytelling than an illustrator?
“But animation takes ages/costs loads!”, I hear you say. Not necessarily. You’re not directing the next Disney movie; a small gif can be turned around in as quick as a few days, but its impact can be long lasting.

Until recently it wouldn’t have made sense for a small business - for example a digital magazine, local charity or independent brand - to commission a bespoke animated illustration for their campaign. But now that a good proportion of the globe are walking around with a mini computer with a high speed internet connection in their pocket, there is an unprecedented opportunity for them to be able to engage with this art form. It’s no coincidence that TikTok has risen in popularity in the last couple of years and that Instagram is encouraging more video content.

So what do you need to consider when hiring an illustrator to make an animated illustration? These are my top 5 tips:

1. What will be the most impactful aspect to animate? Sometimes less is more.
Animations can add atmosphere, humour or tell a story more directly than a still illustration can. Consider what is the most important thing you want to convey. For example, for Tiny Living World I started off with a long list of possible elements to animate, but in refining what the most important aspects to communicate were, I cut it down to the essential elements that were only related to the cycle of the ecosystem within the bulb. 

2. Do you want sound?
The ability to add sound to moving illustrations adds an exciting level of depth. There are sound libraries which offer royalty free options and in the case of Tiny Living World we were lucky enough to have the talents of Nano @nano_sigo to compose something exactly suited to the mood of WildBulb’s products. But it’s important to remember that a lot of the time people will have the sound off and so any sound should only add value to the silent version, not rely upon it to deliver the message, story or punchline.

3. Consider the best use of your budget.
Animations, as you would expect, take longer and require a different skillset to make than illustrations and therefore cost more. But they also have a bigger impact. Prioritise using it in the places where you want to make a strong impression, e.g. on the front page of your website, in a feature article or on a bigger campaign. WildBulb realised that their audience were very interested in how the enclosed ecosystems worked and decided to expand their business into terrarium-making workshops. To create a buzz around the launch of their new venture they commissioned a bespoke illustration that they could use to both explain visually how the enclosed ecosystem works and to excite the imaginations of their customers. WildBulb’s founder Kevin explains: “We wanted an animation which would focus on the organic life happening daily in our WildBulbs. This gif will help us to raise awareness about the importance of preserving our ecosystems, in a world heavily threatened by global warming. We believe that education is the key in this fight, that will give everyone the tools to take the right decisions and choose the right leaders.”

4. Consider whether the illustrator will animate it themselves, or someone else.
You may have seen an illustrator’s work that you love and think will be a great fit for your brand, but they don’t yet have any animation in their portfolio. Don’t let that stop you from starting a conversation with them. They may have the skills, or you could hire someone else to animate their work, as long as it is clear from the beginning so that the illustrator can make the work in such a way that it will be easy to animate further down the line. That said, it will be helpful if the illustrator is confident working digitally and is able to tell stories.

5. Make the most of your moving artwork!
You may be able to get further value from the work by using stills from the animation in other places. Make sure to get the usage rights clear from the outset and ask for the files in the formats you will need for various uses - e.g. different social media platforms.

Interested in learning more about animated illustration and how it could help your brand? 
Click here to book a free discovery call and I will be happy to discuss whether a moving, or still illustration is best for your project.

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