As an illustrator, you would produce drawings, paintings or diagrams that help make products more attractive or easier to understand.

Illustrators typically create pictures for books, magazines, and other publications and for commercial products such as textiles, wrapping paper, stationery, greeting cards, and detailed technical diagrams. Increasingly, illustrators are working in digital format, preparing work directly on a computer.

Evidence of appropriate talent and skill, displayed in an artist’s portfolio, is an important factor used by art directors, clients, and others in deciding whether to hire an individual or to contract out work. The portfolio is a collection of handmade, computer-generated, photographic, or printed samples of the artist’s best work.

Assembling a successful portfolio requires skills usually developed through postsecondary training in art or visual communications. Internships also provide excellent opportunities for artists to develop and enhance their portfolios.

Many professional illustrators have a degree in illustration or other art related degree subjects. If you are creative, have artistic talent and the determination to succeed you could still be successful in illustration without a degree.

You’ll need to be creative while sticking to your customer's design brief. Time management is something you’ll need to use when meeting publication or client deadlines.

Your work would typically include:

  • discussing requirements or briefs with authors, editors or designers
  • negotiating prices and time scales
  • deciding on the right style for illustrations
  • creating illustrations using hand drawing, painting or computer design packages
  • speaking with the client and changing designs if necessary
  • making sure the work is completed within set budgets and deadlines

You may be able to specialise in one type of illustration, such as heritage illustration, designing pictures for guidebooks, leaflets or maps for stately homes and castles. You might also work in educational illustration designing websites, leaflets and publications for an academic institution.

If you work freelance as a self-employed illustrator you will need business skills so you can market your goods and services. You’ll also need to develop the skills to deal with your own finances and build up and promote your own business.


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