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So You Want to Become an Illustrator?

Illustration is a highly specialized form of art and in truth what is illustration to one person is not the same to another.

A professional illustrator either has their own personal style that others ask for or the illustrator can do multiple work for each client. To become an illustrator is a simple one but calls for much study.

Basic drawing and draftsmanship, design and lots of historical study are what are called for. An illustrator takes years, decades to hone their skills so do not think it can be done with a simple course. It takes the study of architecture, animals, anatomy of humans, plants, machines, and more.

This calls for hours of study in and outside of school. Some people take to it naturally and enjoy it while others struggle every step of the way. No matter how easy or miserable it is for you, you have to stick to it, test yourself, learn the business end of it, might need a rep or agent.

Tools can be anything from pencil, ink, paint. The various mediums depend on what you like the best. Actually your clients might ask for a medium you don’t like. You may have to switch approaches to accommodate them.

Schools to teach illustration are many. They’re found all over the world. Some are more famous than others and it all depends on the talent that emerges. Some teachers have that special gift to bring out talent and others have to do it tediously while others just can’t do it. Picking an instructor and school means balancing your budget with your time and skill. It can cost a good amount of money to go to school but that is your best bet.

There are instructions on the internet too. Not the same as hands on with a teacher but some feel these online classes are valuable. Finding the right teacher online can be a big help if they’re good at what they do. It takes testing to see if this is the venue for you.

Once you’ve found out where to study you must dedicate massive amounts of time to it. It can take decades of growth but early on your real talent should emerge. How successful you’ll be commercially depends are far too many variables, however, if you’re in it just to be an illustrator the only person you have to please is yourself.

Next comes the field testing. You’ll have to build a portfolio of your best stuff. Depending on which genres you cover, mediums, means your portfolio will need to be neat, informative and not cluttered. Don’t take a bunch of horse illustrations to a client who wants racing cars.

A combination of mediums might be required to show off. Like a painting of a horse in watercolor and a painting in oils. Shows diversity. Then comes more practice to make sure you can cater to a variety of clients. Some illustrators get one or two clients that can last for years. That’s steady income but it has to be gotten. That calls for responsibility and professionalism. These qualities you have or you don’t. Go get them by studying the business end of illustration too. It is very important to know how to do your own administrative work or hire someone who can.

You’ll also need to know some legals. Make sure you have your legal representatives follow you each stop of the way when you start working.

That’s all water down the road after you’ve become an illustrator but it’s good information to have now so you can be steered in the right direction.

Back to basics, hit the books, go out and draw and paint as much as you can. Don’t sit around talking about it get it done and you’ll be further on.

All that being said, becoming an illustrator calls on your dedication, talent, and perseverance.