What style of illustrations do Primary School kids like?

Spot before
Spot before
Spot after
Spot after

We all know what a children’s illustration looks like right?  Sort of in-between Dr Seuss and the Gruffalo, maybe with a bit of Spot thrown in.  What I want to know is why in all of the test groups I have done over the last few weeks the most vector/cartoon style stuff is more popular with kids (both boys and girls) from the ages of 8 to the ages of 12?

Explain yourself

Spot is a good example of an illustrator moving their illustrations towards what we have found is a “preferred style of art” amongst Primary School age children.

What has changed?

The objects have become simplified and the “stroke” effect has been used with a greater thickness.

I can only assume that cartoon channels such as Nickelodeon & The Cartoon network have changed the style of art that the children I spoke to enjoyed.  I know this is all very speculative and I am making some big assumptions but the evidence I have found whilst trying to find the correct illustrator for Safe Search has shown me that kids prefer vector based art as opposed to hand drawn objects..

How does this even matter?

Well it means that in the future we will try to keep our art more vector based, we will hire graphic designers/artists instead of illustrators.  There is a place for illustration and I’m sure if they are done right they can look great however I can be confident in saying that Primary Technology will be sticking to the style we have used in the past as it seems to be a winning formula(despite the fact I tried to break it).  Please don’t take this post as factual, it is not scientific.   It is my opinion based on my experiences of a small(handful) of children in only a few schools.

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Hiring Illustrators

I have been in touch with 15 illustrators over the past 10 weeks because Primary Technology has put some money aside to do some new illustrations for Safe Search.  I have been a bit surprised with the responses….

I sent out a tweet asking for contacts and got a whole host of illustrators lined up to do the work,  I then sent each of the illustrators an email with my requirements and stated that we could pay for an example piece.

My current illustrator is fantastic and has done nearly all of the artwork you will see in Primary Technology products.  All the way from the School Email Wizard through to the animated graphic on this blog.  He does rough drafts & quote for each piece and if we like it we give him the green light to go ahead.  In fact every artist I have ever worked with has sent through a rough draft prior to even discussing payment.  This includes artists from all around the globe.

The work is a great opportunity for children book illustrators to have their brand and style visible, surely illustrators are aware that culture is all about influence and to have a great deal of influence (40k views a day) is pretty useful for their career?

So far out of the 15 illustrators only 2 have sent through rough drafts and many have requested payment prior to even creating a rough draft.  Is this normal?  Do illustrators really think that their reputation is enough to be payed just to send a rough draft/idea through about some work?  As someone that does a bit of web design work I never ask for cash up front, I always get paid for delivery and if the customer isn’t happy I never charge.

Anyway, I have the money so I’m going to pay to see rough draft pieces even though I think it’s backwards.  If I’m not happy should I ask for my money back?

Safe Search Ad free plugin for wordpress & wpmu


Put an ad free Google Safe Search for Schools onto your wordpress blog. This widget is powered by Google CSE and is very simple, the CSE is provided by http://primaryschoolict.com which is run by a team of educators and emphasizes educational results.
  1. Download from here
  2. Unzip to wp-contents/plugins
  3. Activate site wide (In plugins)
  4. Log into wp-admin
  5. Click Appearance > Widgets
  6. Drag the widget onto your sidebar

Difference between Kidrex and Primary School Safe Search?

I wanted to explain how Primary School Safe Search is different from Kidrex.

1. Primary School Safe Search does NOT display adverts.
2. Primary School Safe Search has a large database of websites it prioritises as search results meaning you are more likely to find the correct educational content.
3. Primary School Safe Search has a large database of websites that are excluded from search results, these include violent and explicit sites. These sites are not usually filtered with a standard safe search.
Both are built on Google CSE.