What Does an Illustrator Do

An illustrator produces original creative visuals for publications like newspapers, children’s books, and of course, for advertisement. You can also be a fashion designer/illustrator if you are good at sketching clothing and accessories. 

I love Illustrations. I took a creative Illustration class in IED Barcelona in 2017. I got to explore a little bit of everything from fashion illustration to watercolor paintings. Today I always add a little bit of illustration to my design, because it really gives a more original and lively feel. 

Actually, it’s a pretty fun job if you love diverse creative work. You can work freelance for different companies designing children’s books, restaurant walls, product packaging, and other fun stuff. 

Like what? Keep reading to find out. 

What is an Illustrator? 

An illustrator is an artist who creates original designs for commercials using multiple mediums including traditional media such as pens, pencils, brushes, and digital programs. Being an illustrator, you will be drawing and sketching a lot on both paper and computers

On a regular basis, you will be working with the marketing team, sometimes editors and designers to promote a business. 

What Does an Illustrator Do? 

We see illustrations in children’s books, comic books, newspapers, and magazines all the time, right? Some of you may think that an illustrator just sits there and draws all day. But the fact is, you can do so many things other than just drawing. 

Many of you will be working as a graphic designer specializing in illustration. Some of you might be working as a medical illustrator creating images of the human body, 3D modeling, and so on. Others could work in a more creative area like branding. 

Really, there are so many different things you can do as an illustrator. 

Job Options for an Illustrator 

You can work in several different industries as an illustrator such as advertising, graphic design, fashion, publishing, or the science and medical field. 

Advertising Illustrators 

You will be working on product illustration, packaging, animation, storyboard, or other creative illustrations for advertising purposes. Most likely you will be working a lot with the digital programs in this field. 

Publishing Illustrators 

Working as a publishing illustrator, you will be creating art for books, editorial cartoons for newspapers and online news, magazines, children’s books, and other publications. 

Fashion Illustrators 

Fashion Illustrators are like graphic designers in the fashion industry. As a fashion illustrator, you will show your creative ideas for clothes, jewelry, and accessories through your sketches. You will work closely with fashion designers to produce fashion products.

Medical Illustrators 

A medical illustrator requires knowledge of biology, and you will need to complete some training programs that combine medical studies and art training. After that, you are free to go. Jobs like creating illustrations for medical journals and books help us improve our health. 

Are You a Good Illustrator? 

If you love drawing, you are already 50% there. For the rest, let’s do a checklist. 

1. Have an eye for colors 

You will need to be sensitive about colors because it’s one of the most important elements of art and design. 

2. Creative and love creating original art 

You have to love it to make it your career. The truth is, it’s hard to force creativity. When you don’t have passion for it, it’s even harder. And companies love original good ideas.

3. Good communication skills 

Being an illustrator, you are not working alone. Often time you have to communicate with your clients and negotiate. 

4. Show personality in your art (have your unique style)

In the illustration world, you don’t want to just be a copycat. Especially as an illustrator, it’s important to have your own style that distinguishes you from others. If not, why are you special?

5. Self-disciplined and deadline-driven

Many of you will probably work as freelance illustrators. I know how hard it is to stay focused sometimes when the couch and TV are just there. Well, I hope you can overcome the temptations. 

Other Questions You Might Have 

What skills do you need to be an illustrator? 

Sketching skill is a must for an illustrator. Digital program basic skills are important as well. To work with clients, you will need very good communication skills and time management skills. 

How can I learn Illustration? 

You can learn illustration in design schools or online. Most of the design schools provide online courses and there are many online resources. And most importantly, practice a lot on your own. 

How to start your career as an illustrator? 

Before becoming an illustrator, you should start practicing drawing. Get familiar with design programs on your computer, because eventually, you will need to work on a digital version. 

Whenever you feel good about your work, you should create a portfolio or a blog. Make friends with other illustrators, go to networking events, and make good connections. 

Step by step, that’s how you can get started. 

Is illustrator a good career? 

It is a good career if you love what you do, that is, creating. Illustrator is a competitive career but there is also a high need for it. Another good thing about being an illustrator is you can work freelance easily. For those of you who love freedom, it’s a perfect job for you. 

Final Words

An illustrator expresses ideas through art. It’s a great career if you love creating. In the beginning, you might work as a freelancer for many different industries to explore your style and what you’re good at. Later on, some of you might want to sell your own stock illustrations online, while others might prefer working for others. Well, eventually, you will find out what you are best at. 

Don’t give up.

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  • Jazz

    This is so helpful 👌 and inspiring 😊🙏✨ tysm for sharing

    • June Escalada

      You’re welcome Jazz!

  • Karin

    My niece has talent. She is graduating from high school. What post secondary education does she need?

    Please advise

    • June Escalada

      Hi Karin,

      What does your niece like to do? Drawing? Handcraft? Or more like an idea (creative) person?


    Thank you for sharing June,

    This is well written, I want to know more about how can I make a start, I also like branding and illustration but can’t find the companies who need my skills.

    • June Escalada

      Hey Bhavesh,

      Have you tried looking for a job on some creative sites?

  • Ishita

    Hi , I am Ishita and I am good at scetcking real life potraits and using colour pencil but I can’t choose a career ..I can come up with good creative ideas and enjoy it ..I just want to know if graphic designing specialising in illustrator is a good idea for career and to ofcourse make good amount of money

    • June Escalada

      Hi Ishita, I would definitely recommend you to try digitalizing your artwork. Give it a try!

  • Maggie

    Hi I’m in year 10 and am interested in Illustration (drawing aspect) as a career, what courses should I then look into outside school and skills in which I should develop?