Subtraction.com: The Sad Story of Illustration on the Web

The inability to commission illustration is one key reason why art direction is fundamentally incompatible with digital publishing. I’ve described it here as a problem of time, but really, at its root, it’s a problem of money. As bad as illustrations like the ones I’ve collected here are, they don’t adversely impact the bottom line. Which is to say, having better illustrations wouldn’t make these publications any more profitable — nor would they make these pages perform better, as digital publishing is increasingly being measured for profitability on a page-by-page basis. That’s reality. It’s unfortunate, because it means as content consumers we’re deprived of a really valuable mode of communication that has been a longstanding partner of some of the best content that publishing has ever produced. But it’s reality.

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