labelling and illustration

In advertising, one of the ways to spot an absolute beginner is that they produce concepts that label things.

To reduce this to basics: imagine a picture of a sports shoe, with the line This is a great sports shoe. This leaves no room for the imagination to flex – that’s because the lines are labelling the picture.

Now picture the same shoe with the line Just do it. This, as history has proved for Nike, allows the imagination to go on a journey between the notion of a shoe, and all the things you could “just do” if you were wearing it.

And of course if you had a line This is a great sports shoe with a picture of a pair of sexy Jimmy Choo high heels, that would tell another story altogether.

I’m currently working on a children’s book, which my mother the artist Margaret Hamlin is illustrating.

Naturally the language is quite simple, and the story and the pictures track each other. The picture complements and carries the story. But here’s the point of difference: children enjoy labelling much more than advertising creatives. Children are rewarded when they find something in the picture that was mentioned in the words.

Below, a snap of one of the illustrations from the book – before the text is flowed in and it is set up as a double page. More of my mother’s art can be found here.

By Peter Kenny

I lead a double life. Identity #1. A writer of poems, comedy plays, dark fiction and the odd libretto. Identity #2: A marketing outlier, working with London creative agencies and my own clients as a copywriter and creative consultant.

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