Visuals are becoming more and more crucial for communicating quickly, even in the dry world of business. However, business communication is becoming more dynamic with the advent of powerful digital devices to handle images, as well as the interactivity of the social media scene. A cutting edge company must embrace this and find ways to speak the language of the day to their customers, as well as employees. Anything less and that company will be left behind. It is that simple.
Visualization of content is the communication wave of the “now” and of the future. It is not going away, so as a writer in business communications, this trend is why I returned to school for a graphics degree. (It did not hurt to be a lifelong artist and illustrator on the side.) It has been exciting to see how companies are able to tap into this newly developed creative skill and use it for their business needs.
The Newest Opportunity
This year’s opportunity appeared unexpectedly in the realm of social media, my passion. When asked, I quickly jumped on the chance to be a member of the (volunteer) team working on the new company blog. This is with Moser Consulting, where I have my day job as an IT Senior Consultant – Technical Writer.
My official project title is Staging Coordinator. While we are currently outsourcing the technical aspects of the blog, it is my role to prep the articles submitted by our talented consulting team and supply images for those articles.
Being a technical IT blog, the challenges have been different than those encountered on my personal blogs.
- Figuring out how to illustrate a coding problem or business concept that is someone else’s brainchild.
- Choosing the medium and style for each illustration – that is the fun part.
- Learning to work with a system that I do not have direct access to (i.e. I can not fix a problem with my images once they are uploaded.)
- Setting up a simple blog process (with the team) with multiple authors – the most difficult piece.
- Working with an article pipeline dependent upon outside sources and a specific schedule (my own blog posts currently come as I have time because I always have more than enough topic ideas.)
As far as the illustrations go, I am discovering that some are quick and easy in Adobe Illustrator.
Or I simply use my own photos and manipulate them in Photoshop.
This avoids all that time spent searching for a creative commons image, not that I have any problem with that. Eventually I will probably have to use CC a lot as our pipeline of articles grow.
Other illustrations take on a whole life of their own. I am currently working on a superhero illustration (see top image) – never in my life would I have thought I would be doing comic book style illustrations! But it has been a lot of fun and the style is good for IT articles (in my humble opinion.)
Here are some of my exploratory works:
Trying out my first vintage comic book look, which has then led to more along the comic book line.
Quick cartoons. Once you have the concept, this is a very easy style executed on a Wacom tablet within Illustrator. The hardest part is coming up with the idea to fit the article.
And then my favorite, but very time consuming one, which was executed with colored pencils.
Hand rendered images are very “real” and vulnerable. When I am searching the web, they grab my attention. It is not a style that works for all topics, but it is one that I hope to use more in the future.
I was so inspired that I got carried away and created a whole infographic in this style. This went along with a story in When Big Data Isn’t Sexy. Being time consuming, infographics are probably not going to be at the top of my list, but they are fascinating to create.
This has been a year of positive growth, and I am grateful to work for a company that is encouraging me to practice and develop a skill that taps into my passions of communicating, social media and creative design.