There are many illustration jobs and being an illustrator is one of them. Illustrators develop ideas and produce original visual images for various products and services. They combine design, art, and creative skills.


Illustrators specialize in a particular style. Part of their duties and responsibilities are the following:

  • client approval for ideas with rough visuals;
  • contract briefing and agreement with the client;
  • development of visual ideas for the brief;
  • discussion of client needs;
  • identification of target audience; and
  • production of illustrations by sketching, drawing, painting, and photographic skills.

Most illustrators work from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays. Working hours of freelance illustrators usually depend on deadlines. A lot of illustrators work at home and some of them in a studio. They have a drawing board or computer workstation to get their job done.


There are several skills an illustrator needs to be successful. These include:

  • ability to adapt with ease;
  • ability to solve problems in a creative way;
  • ability to work to a brief;
  • ability to work to deadlines;
  • an eye for detail and design;
  • creativity and diverse imagination;
  • excellent drawing and IT skills;
  • great communication skills;
  • outstanding negotiating skills with clients and colleagues;
  • self-motivation; and
  • self-promotional skills.


An illustrator enjoys creative work. Most of them are self-employed and work freelance. Illustrators often have other paid jobs and do illustration jobs on the side. Those who work full-time are usually employed by advertising and design agencies. Multimedia and web publishers hire illustrators either for full-time or part-time work.

It is crucial for an illustrator to have a high level of illustration ability. An extensive portfolio of quality work is a great help in obtaining work. Self-promotional skills are also an advantage since it is a competitive area of work. Some illustrators even hire agents for the promotion of their services.

There are several specialist courses for illustrator skills development. Common areas for this kind of development include technical, animation, and graphic design. It is also helpful to improve sequential illustration skills. The Association of Illustrators provides practical support to illustrators. They offer a range of classes for freelancers.


There are several ways for illustrators to develop their skills and portfolio. It does not matter what exact subject an illustrator takes. Subjects include graphic design, fine arts, combined visual arts, and illustration.

  • Degree Courses

These usually last four years. The first year serves as a foundation course.

  • Diploma in Foundation Studies (Art and Design)

This is a one-year foundation course in art and design. Illustrators usually take this before an HND, Foundation Degree, or degree course.

  • Foundation degrees and HNDs

These courses last two years full time.

  • Postgraduate degrees and diplomas

Most of these courses last one-year full-time. A first degree in an appropriate subject is part of the requirements for this one.