WIRED Feature Illustration

An editorial illustration is about the most self-contained, fast and finite kind of design project there is. This illustration project for WIRED was a joy to work on, and a challenge we took on as a team.

Earlier this year, we got to illustrate a feature by Dr. Zeynep Tufekci for the July 2019 issue of WIRED. The article, titled “The Internet has Made Dupes—and Cynics—of Us All” dives into the vertiginous world of fake reviews: the real fakes, the fake-fakes, and how the uncertainty about fakery has eroded the very concept of trust on the Internet.

The prompt asked for the illustration to touch on the following themes:

  • The dizzying effect of being misled.
  • A cycle of ad-financing and reviews. (One can’t exist without the other.)
  • “Bots” watching everything we do.

Finally, a fun constraint: the illustration should be conceived in the style of a pattern.

Early glitch directions for WIRED

Process

Two team members signed on to create illustration drafts. We’ve found that editorial illustrations are a really wonderful way to keep our narrative/graphic skills sharp. After evaluating some concept references as a group, each designer got to work on illustrations individually before coming back together and showing each other the work they made.

A couple of days after we got the assignment, we sent four different graphic directions for WIRED to choose from.

 

Results

The editorial team liked the bots on cubes pattern, and asked us to develop it fully. We polished the round by adding some easter eggs: a fake-fakeout hidden in the pattern, visible if you look at some of the bots’ eyes.

For the digital edition, we also created an animated loop of the cubes appearing, changing and disappearing, to take full advantage of the platform.

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