Why Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator

Since the world went digital, it has become stunningly easy for anyone with a computer and WiFi to learn new skills. Forget the big names in the DIY-autodidact market like LinkedIn Learning, you can type just about any “how to” Google or a YouTube search box to find tons of videos on just about any subject. As a result, we are seeing an incredible, organic, and overwhelming explosion of new and independently honed talent.

The Gig Economy is a formal academic term and a real aspect of the contemporary business landscape. Some individuals with in-demand skills – like content writers and videographers have been able to build successful careers as freelancers. For the demand side, freelancing sites like Fiverr and Upwork, offer a global web of talent to pick from; so, how could NOT finding the right talent be possible?

Well, sometimes too much of a good thing…
Recently, I began working with a client on an infographic, something I do quite often for companies. This was a new client that already had many of its essential graphics designed, such as its logo. It seemed that having some of the preliminary icons already designed would allow us to focus on more nuanced aspects of our collaboration, but there proved to be some devil in the designs.

Not to get overly technical, but there is a little bit of design jargon I need to quickly break down. When making design files, there are several programs you can use, and types of files you can save designs as. Adobe makes many of the programs graphic designers use, but the best known is one you’ve likely heard of, Photoshop. This program is so prolific, I mean, it could be a verb! It’s a fantastic program, and one that has become an industry, a definite “must”, partly because the digital schoolhouse I mentioned before has produced phalanxes of PS wizards!

As a huge proponent of independence, I think it is incredible that so many professionals have mastered design programs like Photoshop, however, what I have noticed is that some clients have brought me files that were created in Photoshop when Illustrator would have been a better choice. Especially, regarding logo and vector design. What makes Illustrator so amazing is its exclusive focus on vectors, which are most often used for designing logos and icons. While some designers and non-designers have told me they prefer Photoshop for this kind of work – perhaps, intimidated by the complexity of Illustrator – designing vectors in Photoshop when they really should be natively designed in Illustrator is, in my humble opinion, a big mistake.

Have you ever inserted an image in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, and tried to expand the image only to find it became pixelated and unsharp? Those were likely not vector files but created in a pixel environment, which is great for photos, but their major limitation is that they cannot be increased beyond a limit without falling apart.

Vectors are files that once exported can be resized to any scale without distorting the image or design. This might seem like technical semantics, but the type of files used has major impacts not only on the process of designing itself but also on the results of that process. Using a file type that does not inherently give the designer the necessary freedom to enlarge graphics as needed costs the client more money because if there is no workaround the file might need to be recreated.

For our recent client, I was able to use their icons, designed in Photoshop, by creating a workaround. We found a creative solution to integrate them as large as the icons could stretch without falling apart. The point I am harping on is that had the icons needed to be even five percent larger they would have started to fall apart, losing the sharp and crisp expectation we all have when looking at logos and icons.

Since logos and icons are widely used across collateral and promotional materials, websites, and digital products, their presentation matters, and when it falls short people notice. Therefore, building them in Adobe Illustrator guarantees success.


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