Is vector illustration clip art?

Apr 05, 2016

Greetings E-Learning Heroes,

I had a very surprising discussion with a client recently. She asked how much it would cost to swap out the "Clip art" used in 5 courses with photos of real people. Happily, it was by email so I could recover from my surprise. The client was getting feedback from her target audience that they didn't like the flat design, vector illustrations purchased in iStock for about $300. The client, her target audience and a speaker at a technology conference gave her the impression that it was clipart and undesirable. I would not describe the popular flat design look as clip art. I think of clip art as being more generic, non-artistic and 1980s. Am I splitting hairs here? Has anyone else had this response to flat design? I completely understand if the target audience doesn't care for flat design, then it should be redesigned. I'm just wondering about the language and if there is the beginnings of blow back on flat design.



4 Replies
Bob S

Hi Julie,

Some business people have a knee-jerk reaction to illustrations in general and label them as "unprofessional", "clip art", or "comic-like"; regardless of how well executed or on-trend. 

In my experience (and it is only that!), that reaction has been more prevalent in certain industries (financial & jewelry/fashion) and interestingly more often from women leaders rather than men.  Aesthetics is a funny thing, and it's not uncommon to see certain things have stronger appeal (or little appeal) to certain demographics.

I wouldn't read too much into it. Maybe circle back with questions about the "feel" or "impression" they are hoping to create rather then exactly what to put in, and see if you can't find that sweet spot that satisfies the client/stakeholder and the learners.  Good luck!


Julie Stelter

Thanks Bob for your comment. The client is actually a non-profit who serves parents who have children with disabilities. Their website is colorful and their logo uses a playful font. The client is not casting blame so all is good. If they find money for a redo, I'll circle back with the questions you suggest. 



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