How Can I Become a Nature Illustrator?

Research what it takes to become a nature illustrator. Learn about education requirements, important job skills, potential employers and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Children`s Book Illustration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Nature Illustrator?

A nature illustrator is someone who produces drawings of nature scenes, animals or natural processes. Their work may be used in printed form for cards, calendars or wall art. They may also produce work that is used to illustrate information in books or other printed materials. They are skilled artists who are capable of producing an accurate two-dimensional rendering of natural objects or animals.

Education Required None, though formal training through a fine arts degree program is common
Key Skills Manual dexterity, observational skills, an ability to convey depth and proportion
Job Growth (2014-2024) 3% (for all fine artists, including illustrators)*
Median Salary (2015) $46,460 (for all fine artists, including illustrators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Kind of Education Do I Need to be a Nature Illustrator?

Artistic pursuits such as drawing or illustration do not necessarily demand formal education. Despite this, many hopeful artists pursue postsecondary educational opportunities. A 4-year bachelor's degree program in art should provide you with critique from established artists, space for conceptual development and an environment in which to hone your skills.

Most colleges and universities have 4-year bachelor's degree programs in art with specializations in drawing. In these settings, you will likely be required to satisfy core curriculum requirements in the humanities or sciences. Your coursework in art will typically emphasize studio experience, as well as offer exposure to fundamental art critique and history. Most programs also demand that you establish a collection of your work to demonstrate the evolution, nature and quality of your pieces.

Beyond a traditional bachelor's degree, you may pursue 4-year degree programs at technical schools or private fine arts institutions. These programs may not have general curriculum requirements outside of your field, and often focus solely on the technical aspects of art.

You might also consider opportunities for graduate education. Many universities have master's degree programs in the arts that offer a specialization in drawing. These programs will emphasize individual development and often prepare you for professional positions in the art field.

What Kind of Skills Do I Need?

Steady hands, strong hand-eye coordination and a grasp of visual art are useful traits for aspiring illustrators. Because you will be rendering three-dimensional objects in two-dimensional representations, you should have a sense of space, proportion and depth on paper.

Where Can I Work?

Nature illustrators, or scientific illustrators, work in a variety of settings and mediums. You could draw representations for scientific publications or work in the educational publishing industry, providing material for textbooks. Some independent artists specialize in naturalistic artwork, and sell pieces in art galleries.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Multimedia artists and animators and sculptors share a common work objective with nature illustrators. All of these professionals use their artistic skills to produce an artistic rendering. Multimedia artists, like nature illustrators, are more likely to produce artistic content that will supplement other material. They may produce images that will be incorporated into a television show, movie or video game. Sculptors mold or join materials to make three-dimensional works of art. Multimedia artists and animators, sculptors and nature illustrators all must be capable of taking an idea and reproducing it in their artistic form. Multimedia artists and animators need a bachelor's degree; sculptors do not necessarily need a degree, although postsecondary studies may be an asset.

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