10 beautiful examples of illustration in print ads

Print ads don’t have to feature photography. Here are 10 that make great use of gorgeous illustrations.

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Most print ads feature some combination of photography and typography. But when you next come to design a print ad, ask yourself whether a custom illustration could do the job better?

To show you what we mean, in this post we’ve brought together 10 great examples of illustration in print ads from around the world. 

Of course there are plenty more besides, so we’d love to see your favourites too. Feel free to share in the comments below!

01. Puy Du Fou 

History comes alive in this print ad for a French theme park

This epic advert was created by French agency Les Gros Mots to promote Puy du Fou, a historical theme park in the Vendée region of western France. Illustrated by Julien Joly, it cleverly draws on frescoes combining all the different eras that visitors can experience at the attraction.

02. Kiss FM

A Beatle takes the place of Uncle Sam in this ad for a rock radio station

This ad to promote a rock radio station is the work of Sao Paolo agency Lua Propaganda, with illustration by 2020 Studios. It smartly updates James Montgomery Flagg's 1917 "I Want You" Poster for the American war effort, swapping Uncle Sam for John Lennon. The radio station itself features only on a small badge on Lennon’s chest, a subtle detail that somehow makes the message all the more powerful.

03. Red Cross

An evocative illustration and a thought-provoking tagline combine to great effect in this poster for the Red Cross

We’ve all become so used to shocking photography of disaster zones that we’ve started to become immune to it. Consequently, an illustration can sometimes be more effective, and that’s certainly the case with this grimly evocative scene for an attention-raising campaign for the Red Cross. It was created by Paraguay agency Verde and the illustration was by Edgar Arce.

04. Saint Bier

Saint Beer gets the religious seal approval in this tongue-in-cheek ad

Catholic monasteries have long been associated with the brewing of strong beer. and this tongue-in-cheek tableau, with the tagline “Convert yourself” and a slightly blasphemous reference to the Holy Grail, conveys the point succintly and stylishly. It was the work of Brazilian agency Propague and the illustration was by Pimp Studio.

05. Assassin’s Creed

This ad for videogame Assassin’s Creed points to the brutality of poverty in Victorian England

Another ad making effective use of vintage style illustration, this ad was part of a campaign for the Assassin’s Creed Syndicate videogame, which is set in Victorian England. While that era is often associated with the clipped accents and refined behaviours of costume drama, this impactful poster reminds us that it was a brutal time for many. It’s the work of Montreal agency Bleublancrouge, with illustration by Yeaaah Studio.

06. Ford

WPP makes a point using pointillism in this ad for Ford

This arresting, although somewhat headache inducing ad for Ford, comes with the tagline ‘Don’t Emoji and Drive’. Using a very 2010s form of pointillism by creating an illustration from individual emojis, the ad was produced by BlueHive, the bespoke WPP agency for Ford's advertising in Italy, with illustration created by Illusion. 

07. Skullcandy

This attention grabbing illustration for Skullcandy keeps the brand looking cool

Now here’s an illustration that gets your attention. It was created for Skullcandy, a headphone brand keen to appear on the cutting edge, and this stunning print ad certainly does that. It’s the work of J. Walter Thompson Shanghai, and the illustration was created by Visionary Bangkok.

08. SPCA

This ad for a cat protection society makes brilliant use of a tarot card motif

Playing on the idea of tarot cards, this lovely ad for the Society for the Protection of Cats sells its message without needing to get overly cutesy or sentimental. It was produced by Havas Suisse, with illustration by Yeaaah Studio.

09. Evans Cycles

This ad for Evans Cycles takes a trip back to the past

Vintage illustration mixes nostalgia with parody in this gorgeous print ad for Evans Cycles. It’s the creation of London agency Antidote and the illustrator was Bruce Emmett.

10. Behance

A creative ad for a creative community

Owned by Adobe, Behance is a global portfolio sharing social network for creatives of all types. But it’s not just online: the company also brings together community members and top artists to carry out portfolio reviews in person. This ad to promote its Brazilian event features a stunning mixed media collage created by art director, illustrator and photographer Antonio Rodrigues Jr.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world's best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he's worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella.