Job Description:

Illustrators produce drawings, paintings, and diagrams for use in products and packaging.

Job Category:
Art & Fashion

What you will do:

You may specialise in one area of illustration, like technical, children’s books or advertising.

You day-to-day tasks may include:

  • discussing requirements, or ‘briefs’, with authors, editors or designers
  • negotiating prices and timescales
  • deciding on the right style for illustrations
  • creating illustrations using hand drawing, painting or computer design packages

If you work for yourself, you’ll also need to promote your business and manage your own finances.


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • design skills and knowledge
  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to use your initiative (ambition/drive)
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skills)
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • excellent time management
  • the ability to work to a brief
  • creativity and imagination
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become an Illustrator, specific subjects are not typically required. However, building a strong foundation in art and related skills during your high school years can greatly benefit your future career as an illustrator. Here are some subjects and steps to consider:

  1. Art & Design: This subject is a fundamental choice for aspiring illustrators. It allows you to develop your artistic skills, experiment with various art forms, and build a portfolio of your work.
  2. Design and Technology: This subject can provide valuable experience in design principles and creative problem-solving, which are relevant to illustration.
  3. English: Good communication skills are important for any artist, as you may need to write about your work, collaborate with clients, or create written content to accompany your illustrations.
  4. Photography: This subject can help you understand visual composition and lighting, which can be applied to your illustrations.
  5. Computer Science or Information Technology: Digital illustration is a significant part of the industry today, so knowledge of computer software and graphic design programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop is valuable.

Post School

There are no set requirements, but many illustrators have a degree in illustration or other arts-related subject like graphic design.

Even without a degree you can still be successful if you have artistic flair and a strong collection of work (portfolio).

Working Hours and Environment:

If freelance, you’ll usually arrange your own hours depending on your workload and the deadlines you have to meet.

You could be based at home or in a studio, and may spend time visiting clients to market your work and discuss briefs.

Career Path & Progression:

If you work freelance, you may need to spend time building up your clients and getting established. Some illustrators combine their work with other jobs until they can earn enough to make their illustration work profitable.

You can use your illustration skills in a variety of sectors including:

  • advertising
  • fashion
  • merchandising
  • publishing
  • websites and computer games

With the right skills you could move into specialist medical, scientific or technical illustration or go into teaching.