Skip to content

How to become an Illustrator

avg. starting salary

Ready to draw the line on your old career? You should become an Illustrator… Illustrators create, design, and produce various types of images for a range of visual media – from books and magazines, to packaging and greeting cards. Their main role is to convey a story or message that fits in with the client’s brief, by using their artistic talents, imagination, and a variation of creative techniques. These usually consist of a combination of hand-drawing, painting, photography, and computer-aided design. Illustrators may work in a company’s design department, or on a freelance basis. Typical duties could include:
  • Communicating with clients, editors, and authors
  • Identifying the target audience
  • Discussing costs and deadlines
  • Carrying out research to generate ideas
  • Brainstorming and drawing up potential designs
  • Submitting rough sketches for approval
  • Using feedback to amend ideas

Aside from a creative mind and passion for art – you’ll also need good business skills, and an ability to work within a tight brief. Having an imagination is good, but letting your ideas run away with you is not. If the client asks for yellow, you should probably go with yellow. Even if you really like blue. Not only do you need a range of skills in design and drawing, you’ll also need to be able to market and sell your abilities to secure commissions. This involves creating and presenting targeted portfolios and picture libraries. You’ll also need to have:
  • A good level of professionalism
  • Research skills
  • Attention to detail
  • An ability to network
  • Time management skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Independence


Junior Illustrator

Up to £18,000


Up to £30,000

Senior Illustrator

Up to £40,000

"I love being an Illustrator, and although it’s taken a fair few years to build a good client base and develop a presence amongst art directors and editors – all of the hard work has paid off. I started out as a freelancer working alongside another job, and over time have been able to turn illustration into a full-time position. Describing my day-to-day would be impossible, because (as cliché as it sounds), every day is different. One week I could be commissioned to design the cover of a book, and the next I could be producing a print advert for a kid’s toy. When it comes to downsides, fussy clients and tight deadlines come out on top. I blame subjectivity. And sometimes, bad taste. But don’t tell them I said that…"

Get qualified

All Illustrator jobs