Solène Debiès > Lifestyle > Illustration and design
packaging luxe beauté

Product and packaging design, space design and graphic design: my job as an illustrator often leads me towards drawing for design projects. In this article, I will try to give you my opinion on the relationship made of love and reason that has endured for decades between illustration and design.


carte vignobles arc france inao

Illustration is an applied art: drawing is designed and produced to respond to forms and functions adapted to the needs of an idea, an author, an agency brief, a press article, or of a book ...


The first "poster artists", these pioneers at the end of the 19thcentury to whom we owe the birth of the illustrator, draw mainly for show posters, shop signs and press printed matter. From 1945, the profession needed to adapt to keep up with the evolution of the consumer society with the first “advertisements” and “packaging” of products.


Poster designers think of and conceptualize images and associated texts. They take into account the usage needs of their posters and the context in which it will be displayed. This design phase allows them to create, in their own style, posters that are visible and understandable at a glance. Thus, they meet both aesthetic and functional objectives.


The word "designer" did not exist at the time in France. But these poster artists are in fact the first graphic designers, because they think of how their client will use the object: the show poster, the sign or the demand of the trader.

Above: A wine list from France that I made for my pleasure (can be found in the shop). Creating both a precise information tool to locate all the PDO wine designations, and also a beautiful poster to display in a dining room is a delicate design job. How great it is to combine business with pleasure!


Posters are generally used to attract the eye and deliver a readable and memorable message. Pioneers in graphic design must answer these needs. In their creation process, they have in mind the environment in which their poster will evolve: either on an empty and dull wall, or on a wall lined with other posters drawn by their fellow poster designers or engravers.


Right: this illustration was designed lengthwise to fit the monumental facade of the Palais des Festivals in Cannes.


The up-front thinking process of a project is often the driving force for inspiration: constraints arise from new aesthetic discoveries. The gray wall where the poster will be displayed - or the heightened visual competition - require the search for new colors and new shapes. The readability of the message in an environment saturated with visual information requires new typographical research.


Right: In this tourist poster for Cuba, I leave large open spaces (here the sky) to highlight the scene (2 girlfriends on vacation) and the text (here the typography is written by hand)

advertising illustrations Cannes French Riviera
tourism poster Cuba
travel sketch woman



After inspiration comes the conceptualization phase, where the draftsman / designer takes out their pencil and begins to conceptualize their ideas in the form of sketches. Small sketches that will turn into contours and outlines of the poster. A sketch will meet both the needs of a shape and a function of a project but also the aesthetic ambitions of the designer. Our poster is now in its mock-up form, a prototype form.

Finally, the implementation, will be the production phase which will allow the illustration and textual components of the poster to conform to the format and constraints of printing or to the harsh life of a street poster. The poster artist of the 19thcentury and the illustrator of the 21st century definitely follow a designer’s approach!

commercial advertising poster bike
Nantes Poster
lipstick woman makeup poster

Above: Advertising posters for a press group, for the city of Nantes, and for the "Passion Beauté" brand. The typographical work done on the text and the graphism of the illustration work together to deliver an idea or simple and readable information.


Illustration is used in many product designs and packaging projects. It can be used directly on the primary packaging (such as a perfume bottle, a bottle of wine, a packet of crisps, etc.) or on the secondary or even tertiary packaging (the box in which the perfume bottle is placed. , the box containing the packets of crisps, etc.).


An illustration makes it possible to evoke the product in a simple and powerful way, but also to highlight a universe, or a character who evolves in this universe that the brand wishes to highlight.

packaging perfumes illustration


beauty packaging Lancôme Set

Here is the result of an illustrated design project for a collection of 5 sets of beauty products by Lancôme, distributed in the United States.


I drew a female character for each collection of beauty products. Each time, she’s represented in an environment linked to the product. For example, for "Skin Glowcation" our heroine is riding her bike near the small beach of a village in Provence. For "Lash Rehab" we find her reading on the beach. For other products, she's in her bathroom. She is always accompanied by her little dog (a French bulldog!) Who is usually playing with her products and brings a touch of humor and lightness. Each set corresponds to a universe and the designs are made in a specific color palette, which makes it easy to identify the products.


I collaborated on this project with a product designer: each product is well placed in its box and meets sales requirements. Cutting the cardboard on the decor illustrated in the background gives depth and perspective to the whole and makes the finished product functional and ... desirable!


Still in the beauty world, here is a magnificent metal soap box and a case made for the Ictyane brand.


In another universe, here are projects carried out for Westfield Forum des Halles in Paris. The first is a graphic design project: it’s an illustrated and simplified map of Paris, which has been published in Parisian tourist magazines. It’s intended to simply indicate but with style the location of Westfield Forum des Halles and what can be found there (shops, restaurants, children's play areas, cinema, etc.).


The second is a small promotional item or goodie given by Westfield Forum des Halles to its customers: a small candy box!


I hope you found this little illustrated article on the relationships between design and illustration interesting. Do not hesitate to contact me if you want to talk about this subject in more detail!

packaging illustration goodie Westfield Paris
packaging beauty soap goodie
Illustrated city map for Westfield Paris

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