How to become an Illustrator
Illustrator Job Duties
Skills and Qualities need to become an Illustrator
Illustrator Salary
Influential Professional Illustrators
Leading Organizations for Illustrators
Top Cities for Illustrator Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become an Illustrator

The first step to becoming an Illustrator would be to find a college that has an extensive art program. There are many such colleges and universities offering these types of classes but make sure you find one that has a degree program in the arts and specifically in the field of illustration that you are interested in.

There are many fields of work associated with illustration, from medical illustrators to comic book creators and animated motion pictures to technical drawing or storybooks. So decide where your personal interests and abilities lie then find a college that offers classes in that field.

It is best to find a college that offers at least a Bachelor's Degree in art with a major in Illustration. Then when qualified assemble a portfolio of your best work and start marketing yourself to the industry of the field you have chosen.

What does an Illustrator do?

Illustrators utilize creativity along with their technical skills and natural artistic ability to draw or paint to create pictures that communicate ideas, sensations, facts, feelings and emotions. An Illustrator works to create commercial images to inform, persuade or entertain their client's intended audience. They must also make adjustments in the mood or style of the images accordingly.

Most Illustrators work as freelancers. Meaning that they are not actually employed by a company but rather are hired to do a job and are paid accordingly. Some of the possible markets include magazines; books, newspapers and comics. There are also positions available in advertising such as posters and storyboard creators. The fashion industry uses Illustrators to show the vision of a finished garment before the fabric is ever cut. Other fields include merchandising, such as greeting cards, calendars, t-shirts and ceramics. Corporate work includes brochures and catalogues. The fastest growing is multimedia with video games, websites and animation or animated movies.

Specialists in the field include scientific, technical and medical illustrators. Here Illustrators create work for text and reference books. These may show new products, processes or techniques.

What skills or qualities do I need to become an Illustrator?

The primary skills or qualities would obviously be those of an artistic nature. Creativity and imagination are also essential qualities for a successful Illustrator. The desire to be an Illustrator cannot be realized if the individual simply has no artistic abilities or skills.

Other less obvious skills and qualities include being good at liaison with clients, editors, and authors. The Illustrator needs to understand and interpret the needs of the client to successfully produce a product that will satisfy their needs. An Illustrator will also need to know what style is appropriate for the work and have the ability to negotiate pricing and deadlines.

Sometimes the Illustrator will need to analyze the specification of a brief or the text that needs to be illustrated. They must think creatively and use a lot of imagination to produce new ideas. Illustrators need to create images using traditional hand skills of drawing or painting along with other techniques. There are also computer-aided design CAD packages to scan images and change the size, color or other elements. They nearly always need to work within a timescale and quite frequently have short deadlines. Since most Illustrators work freelance they need the knowledge and have the ability to run a business. Freelance Illustrators also need to create original pieces to promote themselves to new clients.

How much does an illustrator make?

The income potential varies greatly in this industry. It may be a trade off to get less pay to work for a firm or company. The pay may be less but there is a steady dependable income. Conversely a freelance Illustrator could potentially make more money being paid per assignment however there is not the security of that steady income, also the artist has to constantly be looking for new work and selling themselves and their abilities to new clients.

The national estimates for this career have a mean hourly wage of $23.13 or yearly $48,110. On the low end it could be as little as $8.97 hourly or $18,650 a year. This is where most Illustrators out of college will start with the possible exception of those who are incredibly talented. Top artists and ones who have built a reputation can demand and often receive much higher wages, the top 90 percent average around $40.30 per hour or approximately $80,820 a year.

The career potential for independent artists, which does include writers and performers, has the highest employment possibilities where some 2,340 jobs may be found with a mean wage of $21.38 an hour. That is followed by newspapers, periodicals and books at around 800 with a mean of $25.63 an hour. The motion picture industry has the fewest job possibilities at around 670; however this is where you will find the highest mean pay of around $36.47 an hour.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

When you think of the most influential professionals in the field of Illustration the first name that might come to mind is Walt Disney. He has produced or been instrumental in producing some of the first animated motion pictures. And his legacy still lives today long after his death.

In the comic book field there are several influential Illustrators like Jim Lee who worked for Marvel Comics.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

Since many Illustrators work as freelance there are not as many big organizations in this field as there may be in some others. Again though one organization or company that does come to mind would have to be Walt Disney.

Other organizations might include the comic book industry where they employ several artists whether as full time employees or freelance. This is probably the best use of illustration since there are usually few words, leaving the artists' images to tell the story.

What ae the top cities for Illustrator jobs?

The top paying cities for this industry include Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills MI, home of the automobile industry. Here employment is around 480 with a mean hourly wage of $38.35. Next would be Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale CA with 540 jobs and a mean hourly wage of $36.54. Third is Orlando-Kissimmee FL with around 490 jobs and a mean hourly wage of $29.81

Other Careers of Interest

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