What Are My Career Options in Fashion Illustration?

Fashion illustrators should love to draw and have a sharp, creative eye for garments. Some possible job titles include fashion designer and fine artist. Keep reading to learn more about the basics of this career and your educational options. Schools offering Fashion Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Description

A career as a fashion illustrator allows you to combine your passion and talent for drawing with fashion. You can create sketches for clothing, shoes and accessories that match the artistic vision of the fashion designer or art director.

You may use computer software, or even your own sketches done by hand, to transfer ideas to drafts and drawings. Designers may use your drafts to further create pieces of fashion apparel or other illustrative material for men's, women's or children's fashion. You might also complete work that appears in fashion magazines, websites, catalogs or other forms of media.

Important Facts About Fashion Illustration

Key Skills Attention to detail, social perceptiveness, decision making
Similar Occupations Tailor, Technical Design Manager, Pattern Maker
Professional Certification Certificates in fashion are available
On-the-Job Training Internships are available, typically through a fashion designer program

Work Settings

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that fashion designers in general can find employment in various settings, including design firms, manufacturing establishments, retailers and apparel companies (www.bls.gov). Theater and dance companies also hire designers to make costumes. Some are also self-employed. You can also expect to get opportunities to travel to fashion shows and other similar events. The BLS notes that California and New York employ the most designers.

Education Information

You have a few options in education and training for a career in fashion illustration. For example, you could take illustration courses through degree programs like the Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Fashion Design or A.A. in Fashion Illustration. You can also find certificate programs in these areas. While these credentials may suffice to work as an illustrator, the BLS notes that you'll usually need a portfolio and a bachelor's degree to find work as a fashion designer.

Courses in fashion illustration can give you basic drawing and sketching knowledge, as well as the opportunity to practice illustration techniques and develop a portfolio. Certain degree and certificate programs also offer internship or professional practice courses in fashion. You may learn the basics of how to transpose fashion ideas into sketches for presentation.

Job Outlook

Although outlook and salary information specific to fashion illustrators isn't available, you can find career information for closely related positions. For example, the BLS predicted that fashion designers, including those who have a background in sketching illustrations, would see a 3% increase in employment between 2014 and 2024. On the other hand, fine artists, including general illustrators, would see a 2% growth over that time. You can expect to face strong competition as an illustrator or fashion designer, so being talented, having experience and possessing a strong portfolio of your work are very important.


The BLS noted that you could get your start as a fashion designer by pursuing an entry-level position as a sketching assistant. In March 2014, PayScale.com reported that junior graphic designers who worked in the fashion industry earned a median salary of $41,722. At the same time, assistant fashion designers earned a median wage of $39,371, while fashion designers earned a median wage of $70,311. The same source reported that illustrators in all industries made a median salary of $44,916 in March 2014.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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