How to Become an Illustrator

An Illustrator is a type of artist who is experienced in creating drawings for a variety of mediums including: digital media, commercial products and for printed materials.

Illustrators may specialize in creating different types of drawings in addition to the medium they use to create images.

Individuals who want to become an Illustrator have the option to specialize in creating specific types of drawings including: Technical Illustrations, Medical Illustrations and Scientific Illustrations.

Education Requirements to Become an Illustrator

There are no minimum requirements in order to become an Illustrator.

However, individuals who pursue a formal education and attend an undergraduate program will have the best job prospects.

In addition, individuals who pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts will also learn a variety of skills that will make them more competitive in the field.

Individuals pursuing an advanced formal education to become an Illustrator have the option to secure a degree in the Fine Arts.

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During these undergraduate programs, individuals may take a variety of classes in arts that will help fine tune their natural skills and abilities.

Some typical courses provided under a Fine Arts degree may include the following list:

  • Art History
  • Drawing
  • Advanced Drawing
  • Illustration
  • Graphic Design
  • Courses incorporating computer technology and Artistic ability

Individuals who want to become an Illustrator may also specialize in creating certain forms of artistic drawings.

Some specializations include: Medical Illustrators, Scientific Illustrators and Technical Illustrators.

In addition to securing a degree in fine arts, these individuals will need to study a scientific branch to understand the mechanisms behind these specialties.

Illustrator Job Description

Illustrators are responsible for creating a variety of images for a variety of publications including print, advertisements, logos or websites.

Individuals may be self-employed, or work for a company and the specific tasks will vary.

However, the main tasks will include being able to take direction and create a variety of images for clients.

Some Illustrators may also specialize in the following images:

  • Medical Illustrators: Using their knowledge of biology, these illustrators will create images of the human body and may create them as 3D images, recreate surgical procedures and animations.
  • Scientific Illustrators: Focus on creating a variety of images related to science including illustrations of atomic structures, planets and plant and animal life.
  • Technical Illustrators: These professionals focus on creating a variety of mechanical images.

    They will draw images representing mechanical machinery and devices as well as showing the assembling of mechanical products.

Illustrator Salary and Career Path

In 2012, the median salary for Craft and Fine Artists, which includes Illustrators, was approximately $44,850 per year.

Exact wages will depend on a variety of factors including whether an individual is self-employed or whether they work full time as an illustrator.

Many self-employed individuals end up earning more than an individual who is salaried, but the amount of work can vary depending on an Illustrator’s workload and amount of clientele.

Many Illustrators who are self-employed start by charging a nominal fee while they build their portfolio and gain experience and may also have to secure a part time job in order to fill in some income gaps.

Individuals who work part time or who have a flexible schedule may also have to supplement their income depending on their workload and how much they charge.

Job opportunities for Craft and Fine Artists as a whole are expected to increase by 3 percent through the year 2022.

This job outlook is considered slower than average when compared to other professions.

Although this rate includes Illustrators, the exact number of job opportunities for this profession will actually be higher because of the fact that these professionals can adapt their work to create illustrations using computers.

Job opportunities created by the internet will also reflect upon illustrators who create images using computer software.

Illustrators have a variety of opportunities whether they are self-employed or work for an organization such as an advertisement agency.

In addition to the type of company they work for, they also have a variety of opportunities in the industry they work in whether it be the medical, technological or the scientific field.

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