Connecting the Dots: Why Tech Brands Are Embracing Illustration

Some of the world’s leading tech brands are defined by one of the oldest art forms—illustration. Creatives at Dropbox, Slack, and Shopify tell us why.

When you think of tech brands designed to improve our working lives, you probably picture whimsical illustrations of delighted people getting things done. Those warm and welcoming line drawings have become such a part of the digital landscape that we may not even think to ask: Why use an art form invented by cavemen to represent the most modern technology on the planet?

“So many tech companies are focused on productivity, which boils down to work—and work isn’t always fun,” says Russell Shaw, art director and illustrator at Slack. “We’re trying to remind people that, yes, this is about work, but it should also be fun. Illustration is also a great alternative to yet another stock photo of someone staring at their phone—a good a way to humanize a concept while also making it feel new.”

For Dropbox, which today announced a complete redesign emphasizing color contrasts—think purple letters on a salmon background—the link to illustration is embedded in the company’s history. “When Dropbox was brand new, the idea of cloud storage didn’t exist,” says illustration lead Michael Jeter. “The product was very buggy, and the company discovered that users were along for the ride out of loyalty to the people who made the product, more than the product itself. We did anything we could to make people smile, to make them feel like there’s some humanity behind what we’re doing. And it’s a tradition that’s carried on today.”...more