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Starting a Career in Illustration

Published on 29 July 13
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Starting a career in Illustration involves quite a few factors, including your education, your skills and the level of those skills, your portfolio of work and projects as well as the field you choose to specialize in.

Illustration is with no doubt an exciting career, but it also a very difficult career as well. Your talent for illustration and your design and creation skills must be of the highest quality in order to make it in this though and cut-throat industry.

Education


A career in Illustration starts out with the right Education. Your education can last anywhere from two to four years after which you can get your Masterâs Degree, adding a couple of extra years.

Drawing will be a big part of Illustration, so work on refining those skills. Use different mediums and experiment with different objects. Also start working on refining your digital drawing skills as it will be a skill that will come in handy.

Your Education will usually involve a study field in art. Those who choose to specialize within medical and scientific fields will also benefit from some pre-med classes.

While studying, your subjects will include things such as drawing, color theory, printmaking, 2 Dimensional graphics, 3 Dimensional graphics and even typography. During your training, you will also be required to do practical work. Practical work will form quite a big part of your education as Illustration requires actually âcreatingâ something.

Skills


The skills you will need in order to make a career out of illustration vary, but the basic skills include:

  • Creativity â you need to be creative in order to come up with images that tell an entire story.
  • Drawing talent â you need to be able to draw if you are going to create illustrations, be it digital or on paper.
  • Basic Artistic Techniques â you will need an understanding of the techniques used in illustration.
  • Understanding of art and how elements work together â you will need this understanding in order to bring different elements together to form one, unified image or idea.
  • Designing and Creation â you will need to have the ability to design and then physically create artwork
  • Mediums â you will be required to work with different mediums including different types of canvases
  • Technical Skills â you will need an understanding of digital creation software as well as the ability to use that software.

Your Portfolio


In order to enter a career in Illustration, you will need to build up a portfolio of your work. Your portfolio will need to include examples of the types of projects you are capable of doing. The more diverse your portfolio is the better.

Remember that your portfolio will need to contain hand-drawn examples as well as computer generated or digital examples of your work. Your portfolio needs to show a potential employer what you are able to do, what design obstacles you have dealt with and where your strength lies.

Getting a Job


Finding employment in an Illustration field can become quite difficult. Many Illustrators choose to freelance and even work in a little graphic design skills.

Places of Work


Choosing Illustration as a career, and depending on your specialization, you can end up working at one of the places below:


  • Publishing Company
  • Magazine / Newspaper
  • Advertising Agency

Specialization


Within Illustration, you will find a wide range of career paths you can specialize in. Below are a few examples of what an Illustrator can specialize in:


  • Medical / Scientific Illustration
  • Technical Illustration
  • Layout and Typography (Books and Magazine)
  • Picture Books â Children Picture Books
  • Advertising
  • Packaging









Starting a career in Illustration involves quite a few factors, including your education, your skills and the level of those skills, your portfolio of work and projects as well as the field you choose to specialize in.

Illustration is with no doubt an exciting career, but it also a very difficult career as well. Your talent for illustration and your design and creation skills must be of the highest quality in order to make it in this though and cut-throat industry.

Education




A career in Illustration starts out with the right Education. Your education can last anywhere from two to four years after which you can get your Masterâs Degree, adding a couple of extra years.

Drawing will be a big part of Illustration, so work on refining those skills. Use different mediums and experiment with different objects. Also start working on refining your digital drawing skills as it will be a skill that will come in handy.

Your Education will usually involve a study field in art. Those who choose to specialize within medical and scientific fields will also benefit from some pre-med classes.

While studying, your subjects will include things such as drawing, color theory, printmaking, 2 Dimensional graphics, 3 Dimensional graphics and even typography. During your training, you will also be required to do practical work. Practical work will form quite a big part of your education as Illustration requires actually âcreatingâ something.

Skills




The skills you will need in order to make a career out of illustration vary, but the basic skills include:

  • Creativity â you need to be creative in order to come up with images that tell an entire story.
  • Drawing talent â you need to be able to draw if you are going to create illustrations, be it digital or on paper.
  • Basic Artistic Techniques â you will need an understanding of the techniques used in illustration.
  • Understanding of art and how elements work together â you will need this understanding in order to bring different elements together to form one, unified image or idea.
  • Designing and Creation â you will need to have the ability to design and then physically create artwork
  • Mediums â you will be required to work with different mediums including different types of canvases
  • Technical Skills â you will need an understanding of digital creation software as well as the ability to use that software.


Your Portfolio




In order to enter a career in Illustration, you will need to build up a portfolio of your work. Your portfolio will need to include examples of the types of projects you are capable of doing. The more diverse your portfolio is the better.

Remember that your portfolio will need to contain hand-drawn examples as well as computer generated or digital examples of your work. Your portfolio needs to show a potential employer what you are able to do, what design obstacles you have dealt with and where your strength lies.

Getting a Job




Finding employment in an Illustration field can become quite difficult. Many Illustrators choose to freelance and even work in a little graphic design skills.

Places of Work




Choosing Illustration as a career, and depending on your specialization, you can end up working at one of the places below:

  • Publishing Company
  • Magazine / Newspaper
  • Advertising Agency


Specialization




Within Illustration, you will find a wide range of career paths you can specialize in. Below are a few examples of what an Illustrator can specialize in:

  • Medical / Scientific Illustration
  • Technical Illustration
  • Layout and Typography (Books and Magazine)
  • Picture Books â Children Picture Books
  • Advertising
  • Packaging


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