It's now a popular tradition for writers to garnish their articles with Unsplash images.
The usage of Unsplash images is so prominent that most of the common writing applications offer this feature to integrate Unsplash images wherever you want. On Notion, you could easily upload Unsplash images on your cover. On Ghost, you can add a cover photo from Unsplash.
I have no issues with Unsplash; it's just that the internet blogosphere as a whole is becoming more and more generic. Any of these websites which try to repeat the formula gets drowned in the 'sea of generic information'.
In this era of ChatGPT, we are craving something more personal, humane and authentic.
If you pay more attention to the blogs which DO stand out, they do something different. They don't use the standard Unsplash images for the cover. They make those visual assets themselves.
Be it Packy McCornick with his wordart-esque graphics.
Or Nate Kadlac with his unique hand-drawn images that go well with all of his blog contents, ensuring a common, unique and consistent style.
Or David Perell with those blue-white line art illustrations that go well with his writing.
As you might see, this might often involve the creator personally hand-drawing each of these sketches to fit the visual identity. It might also involve a team of artists or freelancers who might get this job done. But for most indie creators and writers, this dependency might get tricky over time as you want to focus most of your attention, energy and time on your writing as a craft. Anything else is a distraction.
Taking a personal example, for a newsletter we're running on side hustlers, my weekly ritual starts with making customised illustrations for each of these side hustlers we are putting in the spotlight for that week.
And I don't get this right 100% all the time. Sometimes, my sketches go way south, and it looks so bad that I sometimes start wondering if I should redo the process from scratch.
Usually, this takes 1-2 hours of effort on good days. And might go to 8-10 hours when things turn south.
After doing roughly 25 editions of the Side Hustlers, I have been thinking of how to templatize the visual identity of the illustrations I make weekly.
It was around this time that we all saw the potential of Stable Diffusion. You could train your own model on Stable Diffusion and make variants on top of it.
What if you could make your own Stable Diffusion variant that lets writers make editorial illustrations with a click?
This was the first inception of the thought process behind Flair.
How does it work?
Formulate your visual identity by shortlisting from the parameters involved.
How much grain? What's the colour palette?
What's the theme? Is it retrofuturism? Or hip-hop? Anything from the 4000+ themes is now possible to shortlist and select.
What are the other elements you want to add to your editorial images? What would you want your signature to be looking like?
Upload your images
Upload the images you want to provide flair to.
For example, in the case of Nate Kadlac's style, you could see the transformation of the folded hands image from left to right.
Fine-tune your style
At this stage, you might look at the results and might feel like wanting to do some fine-tuning. There might be some small changes you would want to make.
You would then go back to the set parameters, tweak them a little, and render them again.
At this stage, you have narrowed down your visual style. And you also have some samples to visualise how they might look.
Start making editorial illustrations
Once the style is finalised, all you have to do is to upload any image you want to be stylised.
Flair does that for you.
This could become a boon for internet creators as every single piece you publish online, be it your article, essay, youtube video, tweet, thread, slack comments can carry your brand identity with you wherever you want.
[Flair is currently being built as we speak. For more updates, you could subscribe to this newsletter for future updates on Flair!]
Another factor in the proliferation of Corporate Memphis is vast image banks for vector graphics. Pablo Stanley is a Mexico City-based illustrator who’s operated several large image databases, where his own flat, wacky SVGs are available open source.
He’s been sent pictures of his image bank illustrations skewed and reimagined on billboard advertisements as far away as India and Germany – although he doesn’t keep proper analytics on it, he estimates that his flat cartoons have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times by people, and tech companies, around the world. Image banks such as FreePik, UnDraw, and Adobe’s own vector art library, have played a massive part in letting non-illustrators co-opt the Corporate Memphis style for themselves.Condé Nast https://www.wired.co.uk/article/corporate-memphis-design-tech