What is an Illustrator? The School Leaver Guide
What is an Illustrator?
Illustrators are commissioned to create drawings for book covers, advertisements, catalogues and greeting cards. Most illustrators are self-employed and they are normally contracted through an agent to produce their drawings.
There are many types of illustrators. A corporate illustrator works on brochures and catalogues whilst a multimedia illustrator works on apps, animations and computer games.
What does an Illustrator do?
A typical day for an Illustrator will involve:
- Communicating with writers, editors and designers to make sure everyone is on the same page
- Researching themes and ideas for their work (for example, recurring motifs in the text of an book they are illustrating)
- Drawing rough sketches and sending them for approval
- Promoting their illustrations
- Thinking outside of the box in order to produce creative designs
- Working within tight deadlines
- Researching galleries to find suitable venues to exhibit work
- Building contacts and networking with art directors, editors, publishers, which may help increase commission rates
Skills & interests required for an Illustrator
- Excellent artistic skills (of course!)
- Ability to self-manage
- Research skills
- Good writing and communication skills
- Ability to market skills particularly through social media
- Ability to follow instructions and work to the client’s brief
- Able to meet set deadlines
Illustrators tend to set their own working hours since they are self-employed. They may work long hours during the day or the weekend in order to finish a commission on time. However, this will vary with the individual illustrator.
At home or in a studio.
Travel is expected from studios to meetings.
Salary ranges & earning potential
An Illustrator will earn between £15,000 to £20,000 per annum as a starting salary.
An experienced illustrator with several years’ experience will earn between £20,000 to £30,000 per annum.
A well-established illustrator can earn up to £40,000 per annum.
Perks & benefits
The ability to set your own schedule and express yourself creatively.
There are no minimum qualifications needed for this role except a creative eye and artistic talent.
If you are looking to enter this field then it is important that you start building an art portfolio to show that you have creative flair and are able to work to a brief. The portfolio could include your own designs for existing books, CD covers or greeting cards alongside original work. The more you cover the better. If you decide to redesign a well-known book cover then interpret it in a way that hasn’t been done before.
Pursuing a degree or Higher National Diploma is beneficial if you intend to teach art or learn specific skills like graphic design and animation.
Useful subjects to study at school
- Fine Art
- Graphic Design