Career as an Illustrator

Career Information

Career Title
Career as an Illustrator


What is an Illustrator? One of the most emerging careers in recent times is the career of an Illustrator. Illustrators carry out a lot of interesting work including creating designs, artworks, drawings, pictures and shapes for the brands they work for or the customers they serve. Becoming an Illustrator is a preferred career choice for students interested in arts and having an extroversion trait in their personality type.

Starting Salary

What does the career as illustrator allow the professional to do? / What are the Jobs carried out by an Illustrator and Duties of an illustrator?

As an illustrator, you can explore the world of creativity and imagination. You can contribute towards giving visual satisfaction to the end consumers and viewers of your final output. There are many different types of jobs and duties of an illustrator. 

From drawing sketches to creating illustrations, from creating color swatches for brands to understanding the essence of the brand and create a mascot to represent the essence, from creating a great picture to represent an entire scene of a story, or depict the flow of blood in the heart for a medical journal, the list of interesting jobs is virtually endless here. 

As technology streamlines and organizes the mundane stuff, the task of illustrators becomes more daunting to create a visual difference between same or similar underlying products and services.

Difference between a Graphic Designer and an Illustrator?

You must be wondering what is the difference between a graphic designer and an illustrator then. Well, graphic designers have similar jobs and duties as that of an illustrator. However, graphic designers are more likely to work on digital projects and these days are expected to know some front end programming languages like bootstrap etc. to be able to represent their designs with some dynamic events and components. 

There are lots of overlaps between the career of a graphic designer and an illustrator. Some graphic designers go on to become illustrators and the reverse is also true on rare occasions. Illustrators may also come from a gaming background and be good at creating graphics for games and other sequence based designing and production areas. 

An illustrator will surely find space in a gaming company but will also need to hone up their animation skills before climbing up the ladder in a gaming production company.

A gist of the graduation process and key educational requirements for Illustrators

As a graduate student in India if you want to work as an Illustrator, besides having a passion and flair for it, you also need to have a ready set of finished outputs, popularly known as a Portfolio. 

Most employers will require you to share your portfolio with them so that they can see the kind of work you have done and make a decision on your employability based on the quality of your work.

Why should one pursue Illustration as a Career?

This is an emerging career opportunity and has a long term outlook. Since most repetitive tasks will be accomplished by technology, the design aspect will remain a key branding differentiation in the future.

Work Demand

Work Demand should be good for this profession since this requires higher order thinking and will have avenues in new fields including design in things that don't currently require design.

Quality of Life

Illustration as a career can be pursued by freelancers and part time workers. It has all elements required to be a gig economy career and this gives scope to have a good quality of life.

Earning Capabilities

This career provides ample opportunities for growth and since this requires visual skills and higher order thinking skills, there will be perks of higher earning for professionals in this field.

What career options does this open up?

Illustrators can go on to become creative heads of media and communication agencies, become art directors in film and television or movie production houses or become heads of animation design departments. 

There are ample opportunities for growth in this career, provided one is endowed with requisite skills and keeps making an effort to acquire latest skills and techniques. 

Most graduation degrees or certificates for graduation in Illustration are presented in India as Bachelors in Design, BDES or Bachelor of Arts. Degrees for Illustration are not yet popular and only a handful of Art Institutes and Colleges are offering specializations as an Illustrator. 

However, Illustration as a career option is well recognized in countries like the United States of America, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and some other developed countries.

Is graduation required for a job as an Illustrator?

It may not be essential to have a degree but it is very important to have a great portfolio if you wish to pursue a career as an illustrator. A graduate school will help you build your portfolio and you will surely get exposed to a lot of different styles and works of great illustrators during your graduation studies. 

It is also recommended that you work in different styles and experiment a lot during your initial years. A signature style of illustration will come in after you know how to express yourself through your work. 

A lot of great illustrators have said that you will know what your style is when it will suit your hand like a glove. During the graduation years, you will be required to put in efforts to know various subjects in Illustration including anatomy, proportion, composition, fundamentals, drawing, perspective, 2 D animation, 3 D animation and many more.

On Graduation what are the options a graduate can pursue?

Most graduation colleges will help you with a list of prospective companies where you can apply for illustration positions once you have completed your graduation. Some colleges with great industry relations will also support you with internships at these companies. 

During graduation, your faculty and visiting professors will give you more details about the professional approaches to adopt during your application for jobs. It would give you a real advantage if you can identify some companies that you would like to apply for jobs early on. 

We strongly encourage students in high school to start looking at Company Websites with open positions for illustrators. You should try to find out the kind of work they do, the qualifications they require, the additional certifications they prefer their applicants to possess.

All this information is available in Job Boards on the Company website and various other Job related websites. We would advise you to go a step further and follow key people in these companies, holding positions like creative head, art directors, etc. 

You should follow their social media profiles, especially on Instagram and Facebook. Another popular site in India for companies to display their portfolio is

What skills are developed during the career of an Illustrator?

A as an Illustrator one is able to to develop multiple skills on the creative side including creativity imagination. Illustrators work with clients directly or business or product owners, this helps them to improve their social skills and become better communicators.

How does one gather professional experience for this while studying?

Freelancing. Freelancing. Freelancing. We cannot ever overemphasize on how important it is for Illustrators to do freelancing work. 

One of the key benefits of a career as an Illustrator is that it gives you the ability to choose between working full time for a company on its payrolls or work at your own pace as a freelancer. 

It may take more time to find work on your own as a freelancer, but it is truly worth it if you are someone who cherishes freedom and life at your own pace. This does not imply that you do not need to work in deadlines or you need not be professional in your commitments. In fact most freelancers understand this aspect very well and generally deliver more professionally when they work as freelancers.

What is the relationship between work in college and professional work later on?

As a student, there may not be good pay for your work generally, but in case of work in the art sector, particularly as an illustrator, you can decide your remuneration based on the skills and confidence that you have. 

Try to get projects that appeal to you and where you can express creativity and showcase your talent and thought process clearly. All your best work as a freelancer can be used as a part of your portfolio. 

As an illustrator, you build your career on your work experience and skill sets. Your skills become better with your work experience and so does your creativity and thought process. 

As an illustrator or as an artist in general, you can never score well in your exams or in life just by knowing about the theory of art, you need to apply your theory in some practical work and showcase the theory you have understood in some physical form. 

This may not be the case with all career options and hence, it is essential that you work and create during your college years and even earlier than that and this will help you immensely as a professional illustrator.

Related Courses for - Career as an Illustrator

Course Title Course Duration Link
Masters In Arts 2 See Course Details
B.Des - Bachelors in Design 3 See Course Details
M.Des 2 See Course Details
BA - Bachelors in Arts 3 See Course Details