How to Become an Illustrator

Written by

Ray Grant Walden


August 14, 2014


graphicdesignerIllustration is a very important concept of getting the point across for many written and visual publications. An illustration is a visualization typically accompanying written text. It is the idea of visually interpreting a concept, idea or story. It can be a drawing, photograph, painting, or other form to visually represent the written material. Illustrators are the professionals responsible for creating these images.

What does an illustrator do?

Illustrators are a type of artist that specializes in complementing written material by providing a visual image that corresponds to the written content. They typically create images for books, magazines, journals, periodicals, newspapers, and other publications. They also create pictures for commercial products such as greeting cards, textiles, calendars, wrapping paper, stationary, promotional posters, and other products. The images often clarify complicated ideas or objects that are hard to describe in written text. Many illustrators create pictures for children’s books to make the story come to life.

Illustrators use a variety of material including pen and pencil, watercolor, pastels, chalk, oil painting, linoleum cuts, wood engraving, and other materials. With increasing advanced technology, many illustrators are working in digital format and creating images on computers using industry standard design programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. This opens a new world of illustration and provides written publication with a variety of new images.

What kind of training & skills does an illustrator need?

There is no formal training required for illustrators, but many complete some type of training, especially if they want to land the best jobs at Disney and other top animation studios. Usually, illustrators should have sound Adobe Suite skills, especially with the Illustrator graphic design program. Many colleges, universities, and art schools offer bachelor and master degree programs in fine arts, illustration, visual communications, graphic design, and animation. Fine arts programs typically provide education for become proficient in visual elements such as sketching, drawing, and composition. Aspiring illustrators must also create an excellent art portfolio to showcase their talent in a wide variety of styles. Hand-drawn and computer-generated illustrations should be included in the portfolio. Many bachelor degree programs assist students in creating art portfolios. Many future illustrators also complete internships for hands-on experience and help with developing a portfolio.

What are the prospects for a career as an illustrator? Job outlook

Employment of illustrators is projected to grow slower than average for all professions, increasing 1% through 2024. As Web sites use more detailed images and backgrounds, the demand for computer illustrators will increase, abeit a little slowly compared to other professions.

Job prospects are expected to be good with keen competition because there are more qualified applicants than job openings. Prospects will be the best for illustrators with extensive experience in a wide range of areas especially computer imaging.

Illustrator Salary: How much do illustrators make?

As of this year, the middle 50% of illustrators earned annual salaries between $30,396 and $44,083. The top 10% earned annual salaries of more than $51,004 (2).

A career as an illustrator is an excellent choice for individuals who have excellent drawing talent and ability. Creativity, detail orientation, a “good eye”, abstract thinking, perseverance, and ability to work as part of a team and independently are all essential characteristics. Those interested in being an illustrator may also want to become a graphic designer or become a medical illustrator.

Becoming an Illustrator Requires Skills & Training, Start Today

Want to know what the 10 top liberal arts schools are?

Are you serious about becoming an Illustrator? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the College Mouse Degree Search tool to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Written by:  Ray Grant Walden

Ray Grant Walden attended American University College and now lives in Houston. He has enjoyed a very exciting career and has experience in a wide variety of professions, including college counseling.

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