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Helping you find a career as an Illustrator

As an illustrator, you will use your talents and skills in art and design to produce images and art in line with a client’s brief and specifications.


What does an Illustrator do?
A typical day as an illustrator will involve:

  • liaising with clients, editors and authors to understand their business needs

  • thinking creatively about how art can be produced

  • using your own artistic skills to produce artwork

  • managing your time to meet client deadlines

  • promote your own work to potential clients
What skills and interests should an Illustrator have?
An illustrator will primarily need artistic skills, such as good judge of colour, light and shade, and manual dexterity. Additionally, they may need to be competent with advanced artistic computer programmes, and must also be self-confident and outgoing in order to sell their work and gain new commissions from prospective clients.
What hours does an Illustrator typically do?
As many illustrators are self-employed they may work their own hours, but the time required by the job may often be lengthy, as unsociable hours may need to be worked in order to complete projects on time.
What environment is an Illustrator based in?
Illustrators will typically work in an art studio, but may also spend some of their time in an office.
How much does an Illustrator travel?
There may be some travel involved to meet with prospective clients and discuss commissions, or to attend artistic conferences and gatherings, or to showcase your own work at an art gallery.
How much does an Illustrator get paid?
As most illustrators are self-employed, salary figures are hard to estimate. Freelance work tends to be more lucrative than working for an employer. Starting salaries are in the region of £15,000 to £20,000. More experienced and well-established illustrators may earn up to £40,000 or more.
Perks & benefits
Although career prospects are limited, well-established illustrators can enjoy highly successful careers. It typically takes around five to seven years to become established within the industry and ,depending on talent and experience, many exciting and high-paid commissions may eventually come your way.
What qualifications does an Illustrator need?
Although qualifications are useful (see below) it is hugely important that a prospective illustrator has an invigorating portfolio which showcases their talents and skills to potential clients and employers. A portfolio can contain any of your own work, such as paintings, photography or graphic design.
Useful subjects to study at school & university
Degrees in fashion, fine art, graphic design and illustration, printmaking and visual art may be beneficial to secure a job as an illustrator. However, your portfolio will speak louder than your qualifications.
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