Heads Up, Aspiring Illustrators! Here’s How Visual Communication Can Be Done Effectively

Words by Micah Avry Guiao

Photos by Lexi Aguila

If you’re looking into becoming an illustrator, this article is for you.

Tim Lopez, graphic designer, held a talk on visual communication for the Batch 5 of WIMterns last October 7th at Penbrothers, Makati City. Lopez works as a graphic designer in a branding and design studio called And A Half.

He commenced the talk by showing a presentation slide filled with moth-lamp memes that immediately caught everyone’s attention. Now, this is effective visual communication–one slide in and the crowd is hooked. This guy definitely knows what he’s talking about.

Like moths to a flower, he said, effective visual communication is a conversation. Both parties need to be constantly engaged and mutually benefit one another in order to achieve their desired results.


He explained that this is precisely why people who hand out flyers are being ignored: there’s no engagement whatsoever in flyers. There’s no conversation happening there.

Lopez then listed five main tips to maximize the potential of visual communication:

1. Think about what you want to say.

Before anything else, understand the message, intention, and goal of the brand/image you want to create. There should always be something to talk about–and it must be delivered in the most suitable way possible.

Road signs are an example for this. A mere arrow pointing to the left when a curb is ahead will most likely do a better job than “turn left.” Message in words, in this case, is not a good option to go with because it will not sink in, as the vehicle is passing quickly. Road signs are better taken in when simplified.

He also mentions that when it comes to medicine packaging, the intimidating factor of prescription labels is almost necessary. Ingredients and specifications cannot be depicted in simple signs for the reason that the user must fully know what he/she is consuming for safety reasons.

“You cannot condense [the information] because that would be irresponsible,” Lopez said.

2. Take note of who is listening.

Always bear in mind who your target market is. It’s essential to know the background and characteristics of who you’re talking to in order to both connect with each other.

For example, using slang would capture most younger audiences. You wouldn’t want to convey a message to elders about how “lit” a product is because it will ultimately be interpreted differently. Instead, it’ll probably resonate better with a younger demographic because it’s how they communicate.

Not all tactics appeal to all audiences.

3. Consider where they are listening.

Think of the touch points as the stage where your show will take place.

Lopez likened effective visual communication to that of a friendship. The location of where you’re having a heart-to-heart talk with a friend (think a loud party versus a secluded room) would make a huge difference.

“Find a vantage [point] where to deliver this message of yours,” he said.

Billboards that occupy your horizon are one way to do this. Another excellent choice would be the use of social media platforms. Lopez added, “Advertisement more condensed, [as they are] shaped into your phone.” More and more advertisements posted online have a very minimalist approach–the visuals are not overcrowded with several words or pictures. This is because the time to digest information is c0ndensed.

“Get them into the message before they scroll down.”


4. Make sure they keep listening.

If there’s one thing you ought to know: you can’t keep talking forever.

Just like with a friend–or, as Lopez says, your crush–you can’t keep talking at a certain event forever. Eventually, you’ll have to go home and go to bed, etc. But find a way to keep them interested in responding to you beyond that situation you talked. Have it lead to another opportunity to interact.

Once you’ve got them hooked, continue the dialogue. Don’t allow the target market to let go of your grip because of inconsistency.

Remember, the more personal the visual feels, the deeper the brand becomes due to the presence of engagement.

5. Know what you want to be remembered for.

In the end, you should be able to leave them with a good memory because this is why they come back.

Lopez juxtaposed an Xbox, a PlayStation, and a Nintendo. All these are gaming brands, with the first two sharing the black, sleek design aesthetic. What sets Nintendo’s branding apart from the first two is that it has a certain sense of nostalgic, child-like wonder. This is what keeps your audience coming back–the consistency of memory.

Going back to the analogy of friendship, Lopez explained that if a friend changes, you don’t seem to know that person anymore and that might just be the reason why you stop hanging out with him/her. But being consistent keeps that hook in, keeps that friendship strong.

Conversations are prolonged when consistency manages to be your key.

Did you find these tips helpful? Let us know in the comments!