A Graphic Designer vs Illustrator: Are They the Same?

Graphic design and illustration go hand in hand. There are illustrators who are graphic designers, as well as graphic designers who are also illustrators because they specialize or perform better in that area.  

Graphic designers must learn to illustrate when they are in their training process and some illustrators have some knowledge about graphic design. However, that does not mean that they are the same. 

Although they share many similarities, each one has characteristics that differentiate them from each other. And they can adapt their abilities to different types of jobs.  

For some tasks, a graphic designer is more convenient. But, in other cases, companies need to hire an illustrator.     

As the head of a company, you may be thinking about the possibility of hiring a designer or an illustrator. But you may not know which one suits your project best.  

So, to make the choice easier for you, we will explain what they are, what they do, and how each one differs from the other. Keep reading!  

What is a graphic designer? 

A graphic designer specializes in visual communication, which means expressing messages using graphic and textual content, which makes the graphic designer very helpful when it comes to the company’s advertising, whether using physical or digital media, and brand’s graphic identity.      

A graphic designer uses his knowledge and digital design tools to create new things. Usually, those new things are intended to generate interest in the public to help companies gain clients, transmit a positive message, move the masses, among others. 

What is an illustrator? 

An illustrator visually represents an idea. It can be a text, a story, or message, either physically or digitally. Among physical illustrations, we find mainly hand-drawn, either with paint, pencil, marker, or pen. 

Also, among the digital ones, we can find books, magazines, advertising or educational material, and many others. 

Similarities between a graphic designer and an illustrator 

• Both have a high level of creativity. 

• Both begin their work by creating sketches (first version of the design without digitizing) on ​​paper sheets. 

• In digital format, both need to use design software or apps. However, the illustrator is less dependent on design programs. 

Differences between a graphic designer and an illustrator 

• A designer must convey the message clearly while illustrator does not necessarily have to communicate clearly or specific messages in their designs. 

• The designer needs a computer to work while the illustrator can work freely without having a computer. 

• The designer must cause interest in people. If someone ignores an illustration, it does not mean that it is poorly made. 

• The illustrator can freely show his graphic style but the designer must adapt his style to the needs and tastes of clients. 

• Graphic design is more oriented to the commercial purpose and illustration to the fine arts -although some commercial projects have used illustration for their brand. 

Final thoughts.  

What do you think? Do you already know what each one specializes in, how they are similar and how they differ?  

As you could see, although they are alike, they create different things and each one is better adapted to a certain type of job. So, define what you want for your company and wisely choose which one to hire.