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Illustration, Chocolate & The Art Of Visual Storytelling

January 21, 2019

One of my favorite (and most delicious) assignments was for the St. Croix Chocolate Company.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

They were preparing for their first appearance at the Chicago Fine Chocolate Show, and commissioned an illustration to publicize that appearance.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Here’s the final. It tells the story in a single image.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 32 pixels highSt. Croix Chocolate Company driving truckload of chocolates to Chicago trade show

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highI created the nine chocolates from scratch in Photoshop. I’m amazed at how well they turned out, and I’m not quite sure how I managed it– I did a lot of experiments!blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Here’s a detail image.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 32 pixels highdetail image: St. Croix Chocolate Company driving truckload of chocolates to Chicago trade show

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highThe point I want to make here is that illustrations are a particularly good media choice for storytelling.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can include anything in an illustration. No concept is too fantastic. You can suspend the laws of nature, take liberties with time and space, tell the story any way you want.

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highA good illustration will stand out and attract attention. You can also make sure it references your brand.
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St. Croix chocolates are true works of art. So is their product photography. But it’s hard to tell a story with a static photo, even a mouth-watering one.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

A story, no matter how simple, is a narrative that requires some energy to drive it forward.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

comparison photo of St. Croix Chocolate Company logo chocolates vs. illustration truck being driven to big Chicago chocolate trade show

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highI wish I could take credit for St. Croix’s logo, but I can’t. I don’t know who designed it, but it’s a beauty. So are their product photos. You can see more on their Facebook page.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 32 pixels highSt. Croix Chocolate Company logo 16-piece gift box fancy chocolates

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highThe St. Croix Chocolate Company is co-owned by Deidre Pope (below, L) and Robyn Dochterman (R). Deidre’s the operations manager, Robyn’s the chocolatier. I think the guy in the middle must be a seasonal employee… 😊blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

They sent me a box of chocolates as a bonus after I finished the assignment. It didn’t take me long to empty it.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

They’re a class act, and I’m grateful they asked me to help tell their story.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

Deidre Pope Robyn Dochterman co-owners St. Croix Chocolate Company with jolly old Santa Claus

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About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Doug Busk, VP Communications, Emory U. former Global Group Director Social Media at Coca-Col

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2019 9:57 AM

    Love the illustrations. The chocolates are so well done they made my mouth water. I might just have to daydream about chocolates on that scale.


    • January 23, 2019 8:31 AM

      Ha! Thanks, Laura! Yes, I agree: if we’re going to fantasize about chocolate, we should do it on a grand scale!! Hope you and yours are well and off to a great 2019. I am overdue at your blog, and I shall be over just as soon as I can change the syrup in my chocolate truck!! 🍫🚚😋

      Liked by 1 person

  2. RKLikesReeses permalink
    January 21, 2019 12:55 PM

    I’m soooooooo tempted to grab that box truck (::giggles::) and run! The chocolates look scrumptious and REAL! The illustration is a joy to see, every yummy morsel of it! (Did you do research on the chocolatiers’ codes? I don’t know if they’re as prevalent now but they’re fascinating.) Excellent, clever, fun – WOW!


    • January 23, 2019 8:40 AM

      Many thanks, RK! I’m not familiar with chocolate codes, but I did study photos of St. Croix chocolates, and I tried to make the ones in the illo look like actual pieces they’d created. I can tell you one thing about chocolate research– it makes you hungry!! Thanks a heap for your delicious comment! 😋

      Liked by 1 person

  3. January 21, 2019 4:55 PM

    Yummy chocolate illustrations! *mouth watering* And I love how the truck is driving really fast. Well, I’m from Chicago, so I will sit here with mouth wide open…stop by my house! LOL. Great artwork, Mark.


    • January 23, 2019 8:50 AM

      Ha! Thanks, Christine! Yes, I thought the truck should be crankin’ right along, because it’s my firm belief that chocolates should be delivered with all possible haste– especially if I’m on the receiving end!! I’ll try to have a chocolate palette delivered to your house ASAP!! 🍫🎨😋

      Liked by 1 person

  4. January 21, 2019 6:07 PM

    Did someone say chocolate?

    What a great illustration, Mark! Your chocolates look good enough to eat. 🙂 Is that Robyn driving the truck? So cute!


    • January 24, 2019 5:20 PM

      My dear Maddie! Your sudden appearance here has caused a sensation!– the house band has struck up a Breezy tune, the coffeepot is singing along, and the squirrels in the backyard are doing some kinda Rockettes line dance thing!! Great to see you! Yup, that was a little caricature of Robyn the Chocolatier driving the truck. Glad you liked it, I’ll be over to visit your blog as soon as I can change the flat tire on my chocolate bicycle!! 🍫🚴😊


  5. Margy permalink
    January 21, 2019 10:45 PM

    Weren’t you tempted to include the line “I work for chocolate” in this blog post!?


    • January 24, 2019 5:23 PM

      Ha! I was indeed, Margy!– but if I publicize that, all my clients’ll start paying me in chocolate, and there’s only so many chocolate croutons I can sprinkle on my salad before I defeat the whole purpose of a healthy lunch!! Still… I’m tempted… 😋 Always good to see you, thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. January 23, 2019 5:35 PM

    dang I feel sweetly cheated funny man – your yummy chocolate images aren’t showin’ up – I’m sure it’s my freakin’ slow internet connection here in the land of tech-holes
    Heck, even sweet-tooth zombies with hotel vouchers pass us by –
    I’ve no doubt your confectionery images are scrumptious – so I’ll be back😁


    • January 24, 2019 5:34 PM

      What?? Some monster done et up the chocolates?? love of the monster is a great book, but monster love of chocolate, well, that’s another fiendish fudge truffle altogether!! Great to see you, tho– lock that monster in the cellar and stop back when you’ve got a better connection! 🍫👹🔨😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. January 24, 2019 6:43 PM

    I always return for chocolates funny man! and am I ever glad – your illustrations are supremely delicious and delightful, as is your clever and insightful narrative
    and you received FREE beautiful chocolates! lucky lucky man!
    and I agree on the logo design too – it’s lovely – logo design is ever so challenging –


    • January 25, 2019 1:20 PM

      You returned!!– did you get the chocolates?– as soon as you arrived here, a little door was supposed to open on your computer, and a little truck was supposed to come out with a little box of chocolates. Jeez, I hope the driver wasn’t on break– that happens sometimes… 😢😂

      Glad you could see the chocolates this time on the screen anyway. I think the one on the top right is trying to mimic the logo, but only the chocolatier knows for sure!! 🌵🍫😋😘

      Liked by 1 person

  8. March 2, 2020 7:41 AM

    As a photographer, I appreciate your statement about the need and a place for both photography and illustration. As a big fan of your work, I especially love the whimsy you so thoughtfully add to your illustrations to purposefully tell a story.

    As a lover of sweets, I can relate to your candy experience. This weekend I just finished photographing a maple sugar boil for an article I am writing, and went home with a warm bottle of syrup….SWEET! I added a tablespoon to my coffee. Dessert it’s what’s for breakfast. Keep sharing and I’ll keep popping back in. Thanks for the smile today.


    • March 2, 2020 8:59 AM

      Alison! Speaking of sweets, you and your lovely comment are both definitely in that category!! 👍🏆😊

      Thanks so much for your very thoughtful and gracious words– just the sorta thing that keeps an illustrator going, and I really appreciate it.

      Loved your story about shooting the sugar boil, and I know it’s gonna be a great feature. Plus, you got a warm bottle of syrup! No doubt about it, those little extra rewards count for a lot when you’re a freelancer– nice to know you’re putting it to good use!! Wonderful to see you, and thanks so much for stopping by!!


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