Illustrator Job Description, Skills, and Salary
Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of an Illustrator. Feel free to use our job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as an Illustrator.
Who is an Illustrator?
An Illustrator is an artist whose area of specialty is in improving writing and giving a clearer picture of concepts by providing a visual representation that is similar to the content of the related image or text. Illustrators create two-dimensional pieces of art for marketing purposes or to convey a story. They have a flair for creativity and art.
Illustrators help to clarify complex concepts and images that are difficult to represent textually. This is the major reason most children’s book authors are illustrators. Also, illustrations are used in magazines, newspapers, tutorials, novels, invitation cards, restaurant menus, posters, shirts, advertisements, comic books, and video games.
An illustration is the artistic representation of images that relate to a specific concept to add more features to it without diverting from the real message they were intended to convey. In cartoon illustration, for instance, the illustrator adds character without competing with or distorting any other thing. They work side-by-side with clients to turn ideas and printed materials into beautiful illustrations with their creative skills.
Since an Illustrator performs some duties of an artist, they still have many distinct roles. Illustrators specifically design illustrations to help in promoting/advertising a product while artists create images to express emotions.
An illustrator majorly does his arts for commercial purposes using a variety of tools such as pencils, paints, brushes, watercolours, online programs, pencils, and, pens. When creating digital programs, illustrators mostly use Adobe Illustrator software. Also, an Illustrator could pass for a fashion designer if he/she is good at sketching accessories and clothing. Most pieces of artwork made by artists are merely aesthetic, and people purchase them because of the thought it provokes.
Apart from being hired by an individual or a particular industry, they offer freelancing services and also work for clients outsourcing for illustrators. When they design images by hand, they place them on the computer to edit and convert them to digital forms, after which they make the necessary adjustments to the digitalized images on the Adobe Illustrator software.
In addition, illustrators necessarily don’t need to acquire formal education, but having a Bachelor’s Degree in illustration, fine arts, or graphics designing could open you to more opportunities. You could also consider enrolling in postgraduate programs to learn fashion, children’s books, or advertising arts to become a specialist in a particular type of illustration.
However, there are many other types of illustrators who specialize as professionals in specific niches. They include:
- Advertising Illustrators
These illustrators work on product animation, packaging, and illustration for advertising. They also carry out storyboards and creative illustrations, using digital programs.
- Publishing Illustrators
They create creative and inspiring arts for cartoons, books, newspapers, magazines, online news, other publications.
- Fashion Illustrators
These illustrators are similar to the graphic designers in the fashion industry. Their major duty is to sketch beautiful graphics and drawings for cloth, jewelry, and accessory ideas. They work closely with fashion designers to make fashion products and are mostly hired by fashion blogs and clothing industries.
- Medical Illustrators
They design illustrations of medicines, human organs, etc, for medical books and journals. To be a good medical illustrator, you will need to enroll in medical studies and art training. You will also need to have a fair knowledge of biology.
Also, these illustrators are hired to create designs for textbooks, charts, and magazines for medical establishments.
- Editorial Illustrators
These illustrators make art illustrations for magazines, journals, and newspaper articles, that depict the message of the story or news. Online illustrators are mostly hired by art directors for online publications.
- Product Illustrators
They make illustrations for product packaging for manufacturers and advertisement agencies.
- Children’s Book Illustrators
They create inspiring illustrations for children’s storybooks through digital drawings or traditional designs.
- Storyboard Illustrators
These illustrators design digital games, video and film animations, ads, and commercials on TV.
They add illustrations to stories used for graphic novels, movies, or ads.
- Technical Illustrators
They create graphics and images for software and app installment guides used to represent technical information.
Illustrator Job Description
What is an Illustrator job description? An Illustrator job description is simply a list of duties and responsibilities of an Illustrator in an organization. Below are the Illustrator job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write an Illustrator job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.
- Creating two-dimensional images for individuals and companies
- Working side-by-side with the design and marketing team, including the authors and editors, to develop new and unique image ideas
- Creating draft designs and illustrations for approval by clients or according to a client’s specification
- Estimating all budget and time limitations
- Creating hand-drawn images and combining them with painting on digital media to add finishing touches to the illustrations
- Editing and formatting designs with illustration software like the Adobe Illustrator or Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software
- Applying different effects, graphics and, colours to convey the in-depth message of each concept
- Ascertaining the goals and loopholes in the design brief by consulting with the concerned stakeholders and clients, and negotiating better design solutions with them
- Carrying out in-depth research for the generation of unique illustration ideas
- Ascertaining the requirements for communication with clients and planning a favourable work schedule
- Creating unique designs and images for the concept given using traditional media (including charcoal painting, drawing, etc), and digital media (including editing software and image capture)
- Negotiating contracts with upscale clients
- Running their business and marketing their concepts
- Applying different complex isometric techniques to augment the perspective of the illustrations created
- Confirming whether the printed illustrations meet the standard specifications (such as quality and colour)
- Identifying the needs of clients by going through the design briefs
- Visualizing the right layout, colours, and harmony is needed on making a perfect illustration for a concept
- Staying updated with new design software and techniques
Qualifications and Requirements
- Expertise experience on how to use illustration software
- Bachelor’s Degree in Visual or Fine Arts, or any relevant qualification in any other field
- Prove of work experience as an Illustrator or Graphics designer
- Valid portfolio of all illustrations
- Knowledge of image editing, hand, and digital drawing
- Communication skills
As an Illustrator, you must possess good communication skills. You need to be fluent in your native tongue and in English to be able to build a strong contact network and converse with clients about their needs when given a design brief.
To build a permanent clientele, you must be able to deliver good jobs as needed by the client. To achieve this, you need to understand all the specifications of the job by regularly communicating with the clients and asking questions when necessary. You don’t need to be hesitant about it if you must deliver rightly.
In addition, you must show respect and humility to your clients. This will make you endearing.
You must be able to deliver illustration jobs to clients within a reasonable timeframe. If you keep missing deadlines, it could hurt your relationship with clients and stop you from receiving more jobs.
However, if a fixed deadline doesn’t work for you, you could communicate with your client to see if it could be adjusted.
You need to know how to develop your unique designs and images without copying what has already been in existence.
Even though you may want to add some images ideas made by other artists, do well to add your own particular and special touch to it. This positions you as an expert and helps you get more clients and referrals.
If you must get published, you need to develop relevant styles. You also need to be familiar with currently updated styles. That will be your biggest selling point.
- Consistent Quality Delivery
To be a good illustrator, you need to know the style of art that you can work best with to be able to deliver quality illustrations consistently.
This will position you as a professional illustrator that people always want to hire.
- Problem-solving skills
Clients bring their ideas (problems) to you as an Illustrator, and you need to know how well to solve the problem by creating the right and unique illustrations for them.
It is also important to know how to solve a problem promptly and calmly during a commission. Working according to the specifications of the client’s brief is vital.
- Graphics Designing Skills
In addition to having drawing skills, you need to be knowledgeable about the basics of graphic design. This will help you to easily adjust illustrations on the computer if need be.
Asides from that, you will be more sought after if are knowledgeable about both graphic designing and illustration.
- Negotiation and Persuasion Skills
As an Illustrator, you need to know how to negotiate deals with your client to get the best offers. However, you don’t need to think about yourself alone. Think about how best it will benefit them. Let it be a win-win for you and your client.
You need to normalize asking questions like “What’s your service charge?”, “What’s your budget?”. Pitch yourself to clients and make them see reasons why they need to work with you. Make them feel comfortable and less nervous. Clarify their doubts. Show them how excited you are working with them.
- Art Creation Skills
An illustration is a form of art. If you don’t love art and illustration, then you will be void of the passion and creativity for arts.
Loving arts is very necessary if you’re taking illustration as a career, but, it may not be a necessity if you’re taking it as a hobby.
- Teaching Skills
Asides from just creating illustrations for clients, you could consider teaching some students. This will increase your achievements and qualifications. Through teaching, you will be able to build a network of knowledgeable and committed students.
Besides, your years of experience in teaching illustrations will validate your expertise in designing unique illustrations.
- Desire to Learn and Improve
It’s normal to get stuck at some point while drawing or designing. Learning continuously is what will widen your scope of knowledge and the quality of illustrations delivered. Remember, “learning never ends”.
In addition, you need to always attend to clients’ feedback and re-design concepts if need be.
- Online Skills
Building an online presence can help you generate and sustain projects for personal clients. You could get work from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. In addition to finding clients, you get to build your audience and fan base.
You could also get to display your art on your website or social media pages and find people to buy your work.
- Sketching Skills
Being able to swiftly explore concepts by sketching to determine the layout of the illustration or preparing drafts to show a client before beginning the real work. The sketches can be done on paper or through digital software.
Illustrations are arts that tell a story through images. You need to know how to relate the facial expressions or gestures in the art to evoke emotions. It is the story that keeps the audience inspired and engaged in the art.
Therefore, knowing the basics of storytelling is important.
How to Become an Illustrator
- Gain Educational Qualifications
Inasmuch as having the natural talent to draw and create a design is necessary, as an Illustrator you need to have a Diploma from high school.
Going further to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts or Design is an added advantage. In addition to the technical education acquired, you could develop essential skills like painting, moving pictures, drawing, and designing letterforms using the computer.
Illustrators seeking to specialize in the medical niche should consider taking Master’s programs to learn advanced courses like human anatomy and surgical sketching.
- Create a Portfolio
A valid portfolio consists of finished works that prove your artistic prowess. Usually, before clients hire illustrators to work for them, they first go through the illustrator’s portfolio.
Endeavour to feature samples of your drawing, painting, and computer designs on your portfolio. Note that only the most appealing samples should be added to your portfolio.
- Gain Work Experiences
Participating in internship programs while taking a Bachelor’s Degree allows you to gain the necessary experience and boost your employability. Also, you could gain work experience by working for software developers, fashion designers, or a freelancer.
- Build Clients’ List
By putting up your works at galleries or online platforms, you could get orders for work from clients. In addition to earning extra income, this helps you gain more experience to develop your portfolio and position yourself as a professional illustrator.
Where to Work
- Advertising agencies
- Publishing firms
- Fashion designing industries
- Medical establishments
Illustrator’s Salary Scale
Illustrators are highly sought after in different establishments, and their salary scale differs among countries.
However, the average yearly salary of an Illustrator ranges from $51,800 to $53,000. In some countries, illustrators earn as high as $73,000 to $100,000 in a year, depending on the quality of their work. Also, most freelance illustrators are paid over $20.00 hourly.