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The role

An Illustrator produces drawings, diagrams or paintings to make a product easier on the eye, as well as easier to understand.

They may work on producing illustrations and covers for books, they could draw diagrams or pictures for brochures, leaflets, educational materials or instruction manuals, or maybe even design greetings cards. 

Due to the breadth of the work, an Illustrator may work in many different styles, depending on the project they work on, and the brief provided by the client. They will often work with both drawing and painting mediums, alongside computer design packages.

How to become an Illustrator

While it is possible to gain a career in illustration without formal qualifications if you have the artistic talent, most professional Illustrators have a degree.

This degree is usually in illustration itself, or an art-related subject, and entry requirements vary depending on the institution, although it’s common for an art foundation course to have been taken.

When looking at applicants for art-based degrees, universities will often also take a portfolio of work into consideration.

When looking for commissions, a portfolio of work is essential for an Illustrator, as they show this to prospective clients.

As for marketing their work, an Illustrator can become a member of the Association of Illustrators, who will then display their contact details and work on their website. An agent may also sell work for an Illustrator, taking commission from the fee.

Further advice and contact details can be found in The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook.

Skills and knowledge required

  • Exceptional drawing skills
  • Creative flair and attention to detail
  • Skills with computer design software
  • Good communication skills
  • The ability to work to a brief
  • A thick skin to handle criticism and rejection



Illustrators are usually freelance, meaning that there are no average salary figures. Organisations such as The Artists Illustration Company (see link below) will help to give guidance on the price of work. 

The hours

As this role is usually a self-employed one, it is up to the Illustrator to set their own working hours. They usually work from home, or in a hired studio space.

Useful websites - The Association of Illustrators – The Artists Information Company



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