The death of ILLUSTRATION is greatly exaggerated, it's constant death is a testament to its constant rebirth; painting, graphic design, photography, graphic art, typography, animation are all 'the new illustration'.
it seems the very breadth and flexibility of illustration as a communication process and practice is its disadvantage, but surely no more than photography or graphic design, but as yet few individuals have been inclined to articulate the complexities of a mechanical/digital reproductive discipline without being pulled into the specificity of a visual language or movement.
the real disadvantage of diversity is how to label it. we all like a label, so what is right for invented visual image (which may contain type or found/original photography) that can be an interpretation, a symbol, a response, a guide to another form of communication?
the i word does carry cultural even social baggage (those brought up or not brought up in homes with illustrated books) and rarely seems to wrestle itself from the doormat of painting role bequeathed by fine art theorists, 'mere illustration', a purely representational role (as if such a thing could ever be objective).
the point of a conference would be to address some of the cobwebs clinging to the underside of the term and lay out a clear, inclusive, concise definition that acknowledges and promotes the creative practice of illustration, plus mapping its influences, what it has influenced and future territories...
which leads to part 2digital publishing surely the wild west new frontier of visual communication, never before has the written word/music/film/dance/theatre etc. needed original visual content that can articulate the essence of material that is appropriate and arresting, there's just the tricky detail of how/who gets paid.