It's that time of the year again when students are overcrowded with different choices to choose their specialization and career field. So, what better than starting your career as an illustrator?

For those who are still not aware of what an illustrator is, it is someone who creates still drawings for different mediums, including books, newspapers, greeting cards, online ads, and magazines. Illustrators need to be great artists and storytellers at the same time.

Moreover, long gone are the days when the market relied on print mediums only. Instead, today electronic mediums and channels are leading the way forward.

The Internet has changed the way most people think of illustration. Many companies hire professional illustrators to work on marketing material, logos, social media ads, and the list goes on.

Moreover, there are dozens of non-traditional ways to use your illustration skills - becoming a fashion illustrator, stationery designer, forensic artist, tattoo artist, to name a few.

So read on as we delve further into the skills you will need as a top illustrator:

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What Makes Illustration So Lucrative As A Career?

There is a constant increase in the demand for eBooks, accounting for approximately 17% of total revenue for a publishing company.

Ultimately, publishers and writers are searching for talented illustrators capable of bringing their stories to life.

Henceforth, creating a demand for illustrators and opening numerous illustration job opportunities.

But, is illustration a good career? A question asked many times as illustration is one of the most challenging careers.

Undoubtedly, an illustration career can be an amazingly lucrative one, but it is not about the talents and skillset. Instead, it's all about your drive above others to express your ideas creatively.

How Is Illustration Different From Drawing?

Before we delve into the skills needed, it's crucial to clarify how illustration is an art and quite different from drawing.

Even though both are some form of visual representation capable of conveying a particular message, they differ.

For starters, drawing is a self-expressive technique, and on the contrary, illustration uses images, expression, and words to communicate.

Want to know the secret of turning your visual talent into a fulfilling illustration career? Then buckle up your seatbelt as we uncover the skills that will help you take the flight to success in the illustration discipline.

Today, we will not only cater to the skills but also discuss questions such as:

  • How much money does an illustrator make?
  • What are the best schools for illustration courses?
  • Are there any illustration jobs in NYC?
The creative visualization of a giraffe with a dinosaur shadow on solid green and yellow background.
The most troubling question for illustrators - is illustration a good career? Indeed, it is as the industry is divided into numerous varied roles such as medical illustrator, fashion artist, graphic designer, to name a few (Source: Pixabay)

Skills Every Illustrator Must Have

If you dream of becoming an illustrator in the upcoming years, then here are top skills everyone should have to become one:

Love For Creating Art

Students and illustrators who have a love for creating art unquestionably, have the drive to push themselves. Art is great, after all, it gets your blood flowing. So it's a blessing to be able to 'play' in illustration jobs.

Moreover, one needs to love the discipline to turn it into a career. If it's just a hobby, it's perfectly fine to do it a few hours a day. But when it comes to doing it day in day out, love for illustration matters.

According to a children's book illustrator, Raissa Figueroa, it is not a typical 9-5 job. Instead, it requires a lot of inspiration while meeting critical deadlines.

Visual Flair

Needless to say, one needs inborn talent and sensibilities for visual arts. Not only this, one should have advanced levels of:

  • Drawing
  • Sketching
  • Visual communication skills

Illustrators typically need to think in a highly-imaginative manner to capture every essence of the drawing.

An eye for detail and creative problem abilities can surely help you secure a position in the illustration jobs market.

In short, the work of an illustrator encompasses continuous refining of concepts and designs to achieve the final look.

And if you go to college to perfect these skills, you may be in the top 10% of earners in this field.

Sketching Skills

The basics of illustration begin with sketching, hence, its significance can't be overstated. Sketching allows illustrators to explore different concepts, layouts, compositions and develop ideas before investing hours of work.

A Unique Style

Too often, individuals settle and just duplicate somebody's work without putting effort into developing their own style.

If you stick long enough, your unique style will emerge. But if you need a quick tip in discovering your style, specific exercise can help.

It is collecting 5-8 illustrators that you love daily to create a list of different things that define your style.

Ability To Convert Concept Into Graphic

Among all the skills, this is the most crucial, mastering this skill, you can become the client's favorite.

Unfortunately, numerous illustrators working in the industry fail to grasp the initial concept and interpret it into what the client wants.

In other words, illustrators are expected to work within a brief, where the client provides the basic idea, style, and a deadline.

And, one should know how to deliver the client's expectations of the brief within the timeframe.

Good Communication

Alongside your creative talents, illustrators need to have excellent communications skills. One should be willing and bold enough to speak up, ask questions, and call the client for clarification.

Do you think a client would trust an illustrator who isn't communicative about his idea?

Not at all, hence, fluency with your verbal and written communication is a necessary skill to master the art of illustration.

Storytelling

Illustrators need to work in a variety of niches such as advertisements, television series, films, video games, and whatnot, where they are always telling a story through their artworks.

Understanding the basics of storytelling is a part of an illustrator's skillset. Storytelling helps illustrators:

  • Engage with the audience
  • Keep them entertained
  • Immerse them in the illustration presented

Familiarity With IT Software

One might conclude that it isn't that important, but in fact, it is incredibly vital in today's digital world. The familiarity with numerous IT and design tools opens up unforeseen illustration job opportunities.

In addition, mastering the modeling software improves illustration skills by featuring different functionalities. Some famous modeling tools include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Freehand.

Understanding Visual Language

It goes without saying that illustrators are, in fact, visual thinkers. Therefore, they need to be sensitive to the shape, color, proportion, scale, texture, and other features of any drawing or art.

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Gloria
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Mariana
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Mariana
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Gloria
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Gloria
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Maddison
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Best Schools For Illustration

Illustrators can come from a variety of training backgrounds such as fine arts, graphic design, animation, web design,  or visual communications, to name a few.

It's true, one doesn't need a degree to be a professional illustrator, yet formal training and a degree can help master the fundamentals of illustration.

If you have decided on illustration as your career, then advanced courses and certifications could make a difference.

It helps gain familiarity with professional standards and create professionally polished art for video games, films, and comic books.

The USA is filled with schools and colleges offering various traditional and digital classroom learning courses on illustration.

But, undoubtedly, the best of the lot is Superprof – providing a platform for the younger artist to polish their illustration skills.

After the individual develops their visual skills, their mind tends to work differently. They tend to think cinematically – understanding lighting, mood, action, and cinematography. In short, they tell a visual story through their illustrations.

Without a doubt, being an illustrator is very demanding as it involves drawing a scene or character, which takes a long time.

Artists invest a lot of time, artistic capabilities, and efforts to present a final polished look.

An imaginative and artistic representation of landscape.
Illustrations is all about creating art and storytelling. It isn't easy as it looks, hence, students can develop illustrative skills and learn professional standards by enrolling in the best schools for illustrations. Their specialized courses are designed specifically to meet drawing and illustrative needs (Source: Pixabay)

The Illustration Job Market In NYC

Creativity and art might look easy, but the reality is far from true.

The illustration industry within the United States of America definitely is shining bright – providing numerous opportunities to the illustrators.

Primarily the commercial world relies heavily on illustrators to sell their products. Hence, a constant need for creative means of communication.

Fortunately, illustrators are the best at communicating creatively.

To begin with, the illustration industry is concentrated in California, NY, estimating approximately 28 thousand jobs for illustrators.

Furthermore, it is expected that the illustration career will get a boost of 6.8% in the upcoming years.

Moreover, the wider illustration industry is divided into numerous varied roles, including but not limited to,

Comic book illustrator

One of the most highly sought-after jobs on the list and the most competitive one. A web comic illustrator creates artwork for eBooks, cartoons, and comic strips.

Web designers

They plan, design, and code various websites and landing pages, many of which combine images, text, sounds, and videos.

Courtroom illustrators

Courtroom artists are responsible for recording and reporting trials using visual illustrations.

Forensic artists

They support a criminal's conviction and solve crimes by providing visual aspects of a case.

Film storyboarding

It provides a graphical depiction of how the story will unfold, shot by shot. In addition, it has a series of illustrations representing each shot and notes representing the file scene.

Medical illustrator

These are professional artists with extensive training in:

  • Science
  • Medicine
  • Media technology
  • Communication

The visual experts are responsible for creating models of medical subjects for training, research, consultations, and many other purposes.

A paper having different architecture illustrations and measurements with a pen and a ruler.
By learning basic illustration skills, one can give a boost to its illustration career. The United States is crowded with numerous schools and learning institutions offering specialized courses on illustration. (Source: Pixabay)

Illustrator Job Salary In USA

According to research conducted by Glassdoor, data from 540 illustrators from across the USA were analyzed.

So, to answer the question: "how much money does an illustrator make?" here's a glimpse of the average salary earned by an illustrator in the United States:

The average yearly salary of an illustrator in the USA typically includes transport, housing, and other benefits.

Furthermore, their salaries vary drastically based on skillset, experience, location, and other characteristics.

Amongst them, the most critical factor affecting the pay scale is experience. Generally, the more years spent as an illustrator will land you a higher wage.

The hourly rates fall between $9 to $23/ hr., equivalent to $555,234 per year. And as one can guess, more experience and specialization can bring in a higher salary rate.

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