To understand what illustration literally means we can take an example. It could be any simple drawing or creation of art that we often find in a newspaper or a magazine article. They often complement the subject and add some more clarity to the text. However in no way will an illustration be such that it deviates the attention from the text to the illustration itself.
In simple words, an illustration is a form of art that may either be a painting or even any form of printed art. But its main aim is to throw some more light on any given text and not become the centre of attention itself. It is meant to complement the text and help understand the text better. The text here could be anything right from a commercial article, newspaper write-up or a health column.
This is in fact what differentiates an illustration from a work of a designer. There is always a whole lot of confusion between what is the work of an illustrator and how is it different from the work of a designer. So let us further clarify what an illustrator does as opposed to the work of a designer.
-An illustrator:is often a person who produces images on their own. They are not always supposed to working out an entire design or a complete product. The job of an illustrator involves supporting a text without actually drawing too much attention towards it.
It is an important aspect as the illustrations needs to be subtle so as not to become the centre of attention, but at the same time has to be clear enough so that the text it supports gets aptly highlighted. It is usually delicate work, as the balance between both the requirements needs to be struck to perfection.
-A designer: The job of a designer differs from that of an illustrator as designers will often rely on various elements and images and engage them such that it results in a powerful visual concept. The job of a designer is clear and that is to concentrate on creating a strong visual concept that by itself can convey a message with or without the support of text alongside.
Their aim is to create a visual such that it has a lasting effect and that the visual remains etched in the memory of those who view it.