While there is an element of 'play' in creativity, it is mostly work, and you have to enjoy the solitude of patient, hard work, because ultimately there is only the paper, the pencil, and you.
— Ivan Brunetti, Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice (Yale University Press, 2011)
How is creative work accomplished?
This example editorial illustration demonstrates one method. In a world flooded with imagery, it's easy to forget that none of it comes about instantaneously, fully formed. It takes time, thought, and care to execute any creative idea!
This text message exchange with a friend immediately felt like an interesting concept to visualize. Being "lost in the content abyss" is something everyone can relate to these days! It brought to mind the image of a person drowning under the pressure to binge a nonstop stream of movies, TV shows, podcasts, and social media feeds.
Any creative process starts with lots of loose, messy, handmade sketches in order to catch all abstract thoughts as images. A collection of easily recognizable, but stylized, logos and icons felt like a straightforward way to grab attention and sell the concept.
Personal, true-to-life photo references go a long way to bring stylized, exaggerated, or simplified visuals to life.
Preserving the loose, sketchy quality of the hand drawn logos and icons conveys the anxiety people feel when bombarded with all this digital content. The yellow hand mimics the default color of people emojis on smart phones. However, the first composition felt more like "grasping" for content, so it was revised to feel more like "drowning" in content. At this stage, lots and lots of guessing and testing happens, moving pieces around the digital canvas.
With more personality than a generic stock photo, the final piece is a memorable way to enhance and reinforce the message of an article from a magazine, newspaper, or blog!