How to Become a Book Illustrator


Simply put, book illustrations are images that accompany a story or text. This form of art is primarily used to create pictures for storybooks. Books rich with beautiful illustrations enhance reading comprehension and add visual appeal, especially for children. These graphics also help demonstrate many details that text alone cannot illustrate.

As the name implies, book illustrators are visual artists who create the illustrations. In essence, they help the book authors to bring their story to life ‘visually’.

Book publishers often utilize the services of these visual artists to make the books look attractive and add visual clues to the context. Like any other field, people in the publishing industry use the internet to find the finest illustration creators. For instance, a publisher from Ireland will expectedly search the web with the term “illustrators in Ireland” to get the required services. So, it makes a lot of financial sense for book illustrators from Ireland to rank their profiles and websites for this term. And the same goes for visual artists from other locations. Check the most reliable book publishers in NYC.

Why They Illustrations Important

Illustrations provide visual clues to readers to help them discover more about the context. Pictures show unwritten details that allow viewers to analyze more complex details of character development. They also provide contextual clues to learn the names of new objects. This background knowledge and attractive appearance increase the interest of book readers.

Benefits of Being an Illustrator

Here are a few advantages of working as an illustrator.

Work From Anywhere

There are ample freelance illustration projects available across various platforms. If you love the freedom of working from home, this is a suitable field for you. 

Get Published as an Artist

The illustrations you design for a book will get published along with the book. It is not usually easy for an artist to get their work published, but illustrators can avail this luxury. 

Set Your Own Rates

Once you have established yourself as a book illustrator, you can demand your own rates for the next projects. It is a rewarding field and well-established illustrators charge a hefty amount for their designs.

How to Become a Book Illustrator

Here are some tips and career advice to become an illustrator.

Research the Niche

Before pursuing this field, research the market and decide if you want to become a storybook illustrator. Also, visit the top-performing profiles on different freelancing platforms to determine what makes a successful illustrator.

Review popular children’s books and their general illustration styles for inspiration. Observe the colors and styles they use to see what makes them look interesting to the audience. By doing this, you can inspire your own style and feel better prepared for this career.

Pursue a Degree

While some illustrators begin their careers with a diploma, others choose to get a professional degree to gain relevant knowledge and credentials for the job. Becoming a book illustrator requires hard work and determination. A degree can accelerate the process of becoming a professional illustrator for you.

Degree programs offered by reputable institutes can better understand the illustration industry. To pursue this field, consider getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree in graphic design, fine arts, visual arts, or a related field.

Create a Portfolio

A strong portfolio can demonstrate your skills and showcase your illustration styles. To create an impressive portfolio, you may include your best projects from school, freelance opportunities, or other professional stints.

Get Your Artwork Seen

While creating a portfolio helps, it is good to have a digital space to promote your work. Having your website and social media pages is like exhibiting your artwork in a showcase for potential customers. There is a possibility that a publisher will stumble upon one of your social media profiles or website and offer work.

Exhibit your work at group exhibitions, as publishers look for new material there. Participate in art contests, because winning one will quickly establish you as a prolific illustrator.

Improve Your Skills

Practice makes a person perfect. As you create more illustrations for various clients, you’ll notice the improvement. However, to get the work done in the first place, work on improving your skillset by practicing different illustrations. Select a difficult illustration as a benchmark and try to replicate the style. 

Storybook illustrators use advanced drawing and painting skills to create sketches before digitizing them, so it makes sense to learn advanced drawing or painting skills.

Learn a design software because you will need it to digitize your hand-drawn illustrations and create new ones. You can watch a tutorial to learn your way around its different modalities and options.

Develop Your Unique Style

It’s important to stand out from the crowd because this industry can be quite competitive in certain dimensions. The work of famous book illustrators is quite easily recognizable because they have developed a signature style. Similarly, if you develop a style that stands out from the rest, you’ll have better chances of getting work offers from publishers. 

Stay Persistent

Focus on persistently creating good quality work and getting it in front of as many people as you can. Stay confident, challenge yourself, don’t give up, and keep drawing every day. When you keep on practicing your skill daily, you can become the master of your trade.

Take Help From an Agent

It can be advantageous to have an agent because of their connections with publishers. While it may be difficult for you to meet publishers and art directors yourself, an agent could easily find their way to most of them.

You may also want to consider hiring an agent because you wouldn’t have to handle all the work yourself and focus on what you do the best i.e. create illustrations.

Contact With a Publisher Directly

Check which publishers regularly publish material with lots of illustrations. Don’t be shy of reaching out to these publishers directly. Send them an email with a link to your portfolio and explain to them why your work would be a good fit for their books. 

About Micah Drews

After playing volleyball at an international level for several years, I now work out and write for Volleyball Blaze. Creating unique and insightful perspectives through my experience and knowledge is one of my top priorities.

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