Are you thinking of pursuing a career as an illustrator?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that the employment of craft and fine artists, including illustrators, will grow 6 percent through the next decade – just as fast as the average for all occupations. So, whether you’re fresh from high school and ready to build a professional life or you’re a seasoned pro looking to switch careers, you’ve made a smart decision.

But what does it take to make a living as an illustrator?

This article paints a clear picture of how to become an illustrator. Let’s get started!

What Does an Illustrator Do?

It’s important to have a good understanding of the job of an illustrator before you start the journey. This way, you’ll know what to expect when you finally get into the profession.

Illustrators create visual representations of a written work or concept. Their work is common in comic books, newspapers, magazines, and children’s books.

In the old days, illustrators used tools like pencils, colors, and paintbrushes to create illustrations. Although you can still use these analog tools today, most illustrators now use computers, digital pencils and brushes, and illustration software.

Get Professional Illustrator Training

Does one need to go to college to become an illustrator? Not necessarily, but if you want to have a competitive advantage, it’s super important. Most employers, such as magazine publishers, are looking for illustrators who have pursued a bachelor’s degree in fine arts or a closely related field.

A degree in fine arts, for instance, has coursework in color theory, art history, painting, figure drawing, and 2D and 3D design, all of which are crucial to an illustrator’s competence.

You can also pursue a master’s degree in fine arts, which will even place you a cut above peers who only hold a bachelor’s degree.

Nurture Your Creative Talent and Gifts

Not everyone can become an illustrator and find wild success with ease. You can receive training from the best illustrators in the industry, but if you lack a naturally creative and artistic ability, you’ll struggle to find your footing.

As such, as you undergo the course, take extra steps to nurture your talents. Attend illustrator workshops and other industry events as often as you can. This will give you an opportunity to participate in contests and learn from others.

While at it, you’ll also want to build the occupational skills that will make you a well-rounded illustrator. For example, since the job will involve getting briefs from clients, you’ll need excellent communication and interpersonal skills. 

Choose Your Niche and Get Hired

There’s no requirement to specialize in a certain illustration niche, but it’s the best way to narrow your skillset and find a job. For example, you can specialize as a children’s book illustrator, which will make it easier for you to land children’s book illustrator jobs.

Other specialties include medical and scientific illustration, historical and documentary illustration, product and fashion illustration, and technical illustration.

If you don’t enjoy formal employment, it’s possible to thrive as a self-employed illustrator. Although you’ll be responsible for finding your own clients, there are several freelancer platforms where you can find jobs.

How to Become an Illustrator Simplified!

Being an illustrator is a sound career move. The demand for illustration services will always be there in various industries. It’s the best time to get started, and with this guide on how to become an illustrator, you now know how to go about it.

All the best and keep tabs on our blog for more career advice.