Illustration careers have never been more exciting or in such high demand. The days of print media being the only media are long gone. More and more publishers find that eBooks and other digital formats are responsible for as much as 17 percent of their total revenue these days. 

Furthermore, writers and publishers will need to rely on talented Illustrators to make their stories come alive. An Illustrator can choose from a variety of career paths. To succeed as a professional Illustrator, you'll need to learn how to refine your style and enhance your work. Hence, today we'll learn more about how to become an Illustrator in this blog.

Who Is an Illustrator?

To illustrate a piece of writing, an illustrator creates a visual representation of the subject matter. Magazines, children's books, and even comic books can benefit from various illustration styles. Illustration has evolved in the same way that other forms of art have. 

In the old days, Illustrators didn't have computers to help them with their work. Analog tools like pencils, paints, and brushes were used by most illustration professionals during their careers. Their work was then sent to a lithographer, who prepared it for publication in books, newspapers, and magazines.

In today's world, lithographers are few and far between, and Illustrators are expected to know how to scan or photograph their work to prepare it for print. Original drawings and lithography are still acceptable methods of digitizing artwork for clients. If you're not familiar with computer programs, check with your client first.

Graphic Designer Vs. Illustrator: What's the Difference?

An Illustrator's job is to create a visual representation of a written work or concept. The goal of a Graphic Designer is to get a message across to a specific group of people.

Graphic Designers and Illustrators have a lot in common. Graphic Designers may also work as Illustrators and vice versa. In contrast to Illustrators, Graphic Designers work with businesses to create marketing assets, logos, and sales materials. A business's success is more closely linked to its work than an Illustrator's ability to bring a story to life.

How to Become an Illustrator?

Becoming an illustrator necessitates a distinct combination of creativity, technical proficiency, and a thorough understanding of visual storytelling. While traditional art skills are essential, in today's digital age, illustrators benefit from knowledge of design software and digital art techniques. Attending a UI UX Bootcamp can be an excellent way to improve your digital illustration skills, especially in the context of user interface and user experience design.

Starting a new career as an Illustrator may seem difficult at first, but with thorough research and a well-thought-out strategy, you can be well on your way to realizing your dreams. You can break down the strategy into four main steps:

1. Pursue Your Education

There is a lot of hands-on training involved in a fine arts degree, including drawing, painting, and computer graphics. Employers commonly require an associate's or a bachelor's degree. To further your education, you can enroll in two-year degree programs which focus on specific skills, such as those in architectural or engineering illustration.

2. Focus on One Specific Niche

If you've had any formal training or education previously, this is an excellent place to start. Decide on your illustration strengths, preferences in style, and other details while you're at it.

Then, narrow your focus to particular jobs you'd like to get involved with. One way to do this is to prepare one list of the jobs you're attracted to and then cross them off. Beginners may save up a great deal of time by narrowing their search to just a few key topics.

3. Hone Your Skills and Utilize Illustration Tools

You can fine-tune your skill set and effective tools after deciding what type of illustration work you want to pursue. Start by researching some of the most commonly used tools and other useful softwares in your field of work.

Search online for requirements in the job or look into available software to learn more about what is required. For instance, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and the software for 3D design are some of the most commonly used tools in the field of graphic design. However, this software may be too difficult or expensive for you if you're starting out.

4. Build a Strong Portfolio

When applying for a job, your resume is the essential item you should bring. A strong portfolio is often more important than a college degree when applying for illustration appointments and the art and design world in general.

Take some time to create your portfolio, as it is extremely important! Showcase the best illustration works or any other work from the early illustration gigs in your portfolio to be creative. Develop your artistic abilities, curate the best pieces of yours, and gain self-assurance in your abilities as an artist. 

It's easy to build a good portfolio in the digital age, whether on your website, on Instagram or Facebook, or even on platforms like YouTube. ArtStation, Behance, and Dribbble are examples of some portfolio-specific spaces you can use to create your profile. A digital portfolio helps you "get noticed" by making your work public in the online world and promoting you as a genuine artist.

5. Personal Branding

There is no guarantee that the appropriate audience will find your perfect, glistening portfolio. No one will know about your incredible work if you don't actively promote your portfolio and yourself. Without taking any action, opportunities would never come your way. These are some of the suggestions for how to get your name out there:

  • Networking

Thanks to social media's rise, getting to know new people is much easier now. It's easy to get you outside, meet other designers and Illustrators in the field, and start creating your personal network by using sites like Dribbble and Instagram. You can meet other Illustrators in person by attending illustrator get-togethers and events.

  • Apply for the Jobs

You must put yourself out there to take advantage of the opportunities that will come your way. To get a better idea of what companies are searching for, you can look up and explore sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, Upwork, and Linkedin.

Never forget to bring your portfolio or website to an interview so that the interviewer can get a sense of your personality and abilities. The job alert feature is also standard on these job listings websites. Once you've applied to the illustration positions you're interested in, you can choose to get notified by email when new posts become available.

  • Make the Most of the Social Media

Nowadays, social media is used by nearly everyone. Rather than your personal website, your social media accounts may become more accessible spaces for other people to find your work. 

Users of various platforms on social media, such as Facebook and even Instagram, can search using keywords or hashtags or names. Who knows what could happen if you play your own hashtags correctly and eventually find out the algorithm's sweet spot? When you decide to put your heart and soul into using social media to your advantage, you secure your position as a potential candidate; employers will see your presence.

Skills Required to Become an Illustrator

Illustrators work with various clients, including authors, editors, and other graphic designers. Illustrators must have a wide range of skills to succeed in this field.

The following qualities are required of an excellent Illustrator:

  • Excellent negotiation skills
  • Excellent designing, sketching, and portrait skills
  • Solid photographic abilities
  • Knowledgeable in IT and design applications
  • Creative and innovative with an eye for color, proportion, and composition
  • Capable of producing a drawing that conveys an idea or concept
  • Designers of clean, crisp, aesthetically pleasing designs

In some cases, the Illustrator may need to know how medicine, science, or even mechanical systems work together to complete a project. There are times when an Illustrator may need to know about human anatomy or cell structure if they are creating medical textbook illustrations.

Responsibilities of an Illustrator

  • Prepare rough drafts based on the specifications
  • Use illustration software to refine designs
  • Utilize diverse colors, visuals, and effects to effectively illustrate each point
  • Utilize computer-aided design (CAD) software to format photographs
  • Perspective is added to complex objects using isometric techniques
  • Define time and financial constraints
  • Ensure that all printed illustrations adhere to quality and color specifications
  • Together with the design team, generate new concepts, patterns, and styles
  • Keep current with the latest design approaches and software
  • Create comprehensive illustrations by combining hand-drawing and painting with digital media
  • Participate in design briefs with customers, editors, and/or marketers in order to determine their requirements

Tips for Emerging Illustrators

To have a long and fruitful career as an Illustrator, keep in mind these pointers:

  1. Get to Know People in Your Field: Participate in networking events with groups like the Association of Illustrators.
  2. Promote Your Work: Use social media and online portfolio sites to draw the attention of publishing firms, art directors, agencies, and other potential customers. Contacting art directors and publishers directly to pitch your concepts may also be an option.
  3. Adhere to Your Timelines: Make it obvious to clients what you can do for them and what they may expect from you. Don't ever miss a deadline. Build a clientele by producing high-quality work and demonstrating dependability.
  4. Utilize Your Time: Use your spare time to take on projects which appear difficult and require you to get to know something novel in the process. It's possible to take college-level online class discussions on the basics of design or shift your entire concentration to another industry which might find your illustration skills real useful.

How to Find Work as an Illustrator?

Fiverr is a go-to place for aspiring Illustrators to sell their work and learn the ropes. To sell their work, Illustrators can create "seller" profiles and set a fixed price for each item. For example, an artist on Fiverr sells botanical images for $55 each.

Sites like Upwork, meanwhile, focus solely on freelance work. They allow freelancers to create profiles and set rates for particular tasks; employers can look for Illustrators with specific skills and experience levels. 

Career Growth and Salary of an Illustrator

With fewer than three years of experience, entry-level illustrators typically make 2.9 Lakhs a year. Mid-career and Senior Illustrators get average pay of 5 Lakhs per year and 6 Lakhs per year, respectively, based on their experience.

In India, the average annual compensation for an Illustrator is 3.6 Lakhs (around ₹30k). Salary estimates are based on a total of 130 Illustrators' salaries from a variety of businesses. Also, the annual maximum compensation for an Illustrator is 7.0 lakhs (₹58.3k per month).


1. What qualifications do you require to become an illustrator?

A college degree in illustration is the minimum requirement for most artists' jobs; however, you can fill certain entry-level positions with simply a high school diploma and extraordinary drawing abilities.

2. Are Illustrators in high demand now?

There are approximately 28,000 Illustrators in the United States. Illustration jobs are predicted to expand by 6.8% between 2016 and 2026.

3. Where does illustration go from here?

Illustrations will become more than just visual aids in the future. With the help of an ever-expanding array of cutting-edge digital approaches, complex programming, and internet formats, imaginative Illustrators are creating new graphic designs that are tactile, unified, and interactive.

4. Do publishing firms employ illustrators?

Illustrators market their work to publishers who contract with them to illustrate the manuscripts they acquire on a freelance basis. Although there are several exceptions to these guidelines, they are the most common practice in publishing.

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To sum up, keep track of your progress as an Illustrator by documenting your progress. Retaining a substantial portion of your work is a vital component of this process. Anyone who has ever worked as an artist will tell you to look back at your previous work and see what you could have done differently if you could do it all over again.

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