I've had a few illustration designs recently that had very tight deadlines, mostly to get the artwork to the printers and meet submission deadlines. You might think commissioning original illustration work on a quick turnaround might sound a little crazy, but in truth, it might be just what's needed.
With a tight deadline, preparation is everything. From the concept design to the final piece, it's easy to fall into certain traps.
"We don't have time, just download some stock photography".
Stock photography can help, but if you don't allow for enough image sourcing time in your concept pitch, an hour or more can be quickly lost downloading half a dozen images that almost but don't quite get the right message across. They then need to be approved by the client, and if not accepted, it's more time lost.
Illustration offers a far greater level of flexibility than stock photography. Sketch proposals can be generated quickly, and then refined to get a very specific message across.
Full figure drawings, detailed backgrounds and tight accurate light and tone all take time to get right, there' no arguing that. There is no shortcut for good artwork.
Creative and resourceful thinking on the other hand, (that elusive part of the process that looks very much like sitting still and doing nothing) can really save time. Again it's in the prep. Here are 2 examples;
A thin loose sketch style doesn't pack that much punch, but it's ok for a background. Do I have time to draw five well known comedians and get them all looking right in a day? Nope. How about just the heads...or as I've done here, use the flood theme of the event to save time. Half a head each, partially submerged.
I've used photography here for a background, but an illustrated star field wouldn't have added much time. Avoiding references that may breach copyright while getting the right message and making it funny was import. There are at least five people in the show, but time doesn't permit - no full figures. So for an illustration, just a hand and a visual gag.