How do I Become an Illustrator?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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An illustrator is a type of artist who specializes in creating visual representations that help clarify writing, design or ideas. Illustrators can work in a variety of fields, and may use many different artistic mediums to create their work. There are many different ways to become an illustrator that can help an artist tailor his or her future career path.

Many illustrators have formal training as artists, although their backgrounds may be very distinct. Some attend traditional art school, learning to paint or draw under master teachers, while others have a more casual education that combines some classes with practical work. While many illustrators use traditional artistic forms, some also train with computer graphics software to create illustrations for computer-based media.

Although many illustrators do have some formal art training, it is not required to become an illustrator. A love and talent for visualizing art and being able to communicate meaning through illustrations lies at the heart of most successful careers in the field. It is possible to become an illustrator without any formal training; if an artist’s work catches the eye of an agent or other art professional, a career can easily be built around the self-taught skills of a great artist.


In order to secure work in the field, many artists create a portfolio of illustrations to show to potential employers or clients. This portfolio should show the range and skills of the artist, as well as help inform viewers of what kind of work the individual artist enjoys. While some illustrators like to create classical art for children's books, others prefer cutting-edge futuristic designs, comic book drawings, or graphic design logos. Virtually any field that includes an artistic element may require a illustrator’s eye and talent.

In addition to creating a coherent portfolio to use as a calling card, making connections within the industry can be an important step in helping an artist become an illustrator. Go to industry events and art exhibits where professionals are likely to gather in order to meet new friends and establish a network of contacts. Consider taking classes with other aspiring illustrators to help build a friendly network that could help recommend jobs.

While choosing to become an illustrator may involve a large amount of time, work, and persistence, it can ultimately pay off for talented individuals who enjoy the work. A passion for art and creative stimulation can truly help a young or new illustrator push through the difficult stages of finding a first job and into the work of building a career. Although trying to become an illustrator may be frustrating and difficult, if an artist has skill and passion to continue to seek work, eventually opportunities may come.


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