How to become an Illustrator
Illustrator Job Duties
Skills and Qualities need to become an Illustrator
Influential Professional Illustrators
Leading Organizations for Illustrators
Top Cities for Illustrator Jobs
Other Careers of Interest
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the comic book field there are several influential Illustrators like Jim Lee who worked for Marvel Comics.
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.
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