• Ashleigh Neill

Three reasons why you should illustrate your research.

Have you ever considered illustrating your research? Maybe you think illustrations are solely for children's books or nonfiction - this blog will make you think again. Illustrations make your research concepts easier to understand and add allure and interest to your work, making it more attractive to readers – whether presenting at a conference, presenting a research poster, promoting a new book or paper online, and more. This blog covers three main reasons why you should consider illustrating your work.


Improve readers understanding of key concepts

Think of your day-to-day experiences where images aid your comprehension – I bet you couldn't imagine putting together a furniture flatpack together without diagrams? The fact is the diagrams are much easier to absorb than a heap of text. In the same way, an illustration can capture the essence of your work and make it easier to comprehend and more memorable for your readers.

For example, I have won the prize of the best finance presenter at a conference – whereby the majority of my presentation focused on the illustration shown above. It demonstrated the objective of banking regulators to build the resilience of banks to bouts of financial instability and set the scene very well for my empirical analysis – bridging the gap between law and financial analysis.

Below are illustrations I drew for a book that focused on the importance of economic history for economists – after just reading a blurb on the book I came up with putting the spin on the classic tale of A Christmas Carol! The illustrations served to provide an overview of the book's objective. In addition, they had the power to engage audiences from various backgrounds when used to promote the book online.


Enhance the aesthetic value of your work

Illustrations add aesthetic value to your text. If publishing a book – your book cover is the most important marketing tool you have. So why not consider using some of your publishing grant towards a unique illustration. A generic stock picture may not adequately represent your research field. A personalised illustration depicting your work is much more likely to strike a core with potential readers. Below is an example of an illustration I created for a book cover. Even the simple professional illustration makes the book cover more eye-catching, don't you think?


Attract attention

This is one of the main advantages of illustrations. A poster or a book page with an image is more eye-catching than a page with only text. Below are examples of illustrations used as the logo for research projects – these logo-type illustrations served as social media profile pictures, formed part of the project's website, included in conference slides, profile picture for podcast and were featured in newspaper reports on the projects. In addition, the illustrations enticed readers to learn more about the projects and helped to reach out to non-academic audiences.

Think your research would benefit from an illustration tailored to your research than please get in touch! I’ve worked with academics from various disciplines around the globe to help them illustrate their research by simply having a chat with them or reading a blurb about their work. I am then able to develop their work into a piece of art. Academics are always shocked at how little time and handholding I take to get the illustration perfect.