Scaling Our Illustration System with Object Libraries
At Creative Market, illustration is a core part of our brand. It allows us to infuse product and marketing work with our brand personality, but more importantly, illustration is a fantastic communication tool with some serious superpowers. We use it to help clarify complex ideas, emphasize important content, and even make the viewer feel excited, empowered, or productive.
Creative Market has big plans in the works, and to help us get there we’re aiming to double the size of our team by the end of 2018. Scaling the business is a tide that lifts all boats, which means that the volume of design work will scale too. With a small (but mighty!) brand team like ours, we needed to find a way to streamline the process of creating new spot illustration work to ensure that we’re maintaining a consistent visual style, voice, and tone as we grow.
Meet Our Illustration Object Libraries
The brand team produces illustration work to support both our Marketplace product and Creative Market Pro, as well as company projects (like our brand new careers page, for example). We created object libraries to help us address the growing need for icons, spot illustrations, and hero images across all of these contexts.
Our object libraries are collections of illustrated objects pulled from previous illustration projects. When drawing on past illustration work to create something new, it can be a time suck to open each original file and pull out the bits and pieces you need. To improve this workflow, we created spreadsheets categorized by subject where we can file away individual objects for easy access.
As part of this project, we started running weekly illustration exercises to fill in holes in the libraries. We have one object library for our Marketplace illustration system, and one for our Creative Market Pro illustration system. So each week, we picked an object and executed a version of it in our Creative Market Pro illustration style, and a version in our Marketplace style. Even though our two products have distinct illustration styles, framing exercises this way helped to ensure that all of our illustrations are unified by a common drawing sensibility.
Using the Libraries to Create New Work
To create a new spot illustration, we can combine elements from our spreadsheets to form the foundation. From there, we can modify color and line weight to turn a collection of objects into a composed illustration.
Moving forward, this tool will help new design team members become familiar with our visual voice and tone. Our object libraries will make our workflow much more efficient, allowing brand designers execute illustration work seamlessly together as we scale.
If this post piqued your interest, keep your eyes on Creative Market's Medium publication for more writing about our approach to illustration work in product and marketing!