What Are the Educational Requirements to Be an Illustrator?

While illustrators aren't necessarily required to complete postsecondary education, many of them pursue certificates or degrees in illustration or fine arts. To learn more, keep reading. Schools offering Children`s Book Illustration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Illustrator Education & Career Overview

Formal art training is sometimes a requirement to work as an illustrator, though an outstanding portfolio may be all that's needed. Nevertheless, relevant bachelor's and master's programs are available that can prove beneficial. Additionally, many complete a workshop or take independent classes to hone their skills and build their knowledge-base in the field.

Illustrators are commonly known as fine artists. They work with pens, pencils, and paper to create images, although digital illustration is becoming more commonly used among illustrators. As a trained illustrator, you might find work creating images for multiple venues, including magazines, books, films, video games, and even medical publications. A portfolio of original work will be important to your success in finding work, whether you're applying to large corporations, publishing companies, or small boutique design firms. Some illustrators choose to be freelancers.

Important Facts About Illustrators

Median Salary (2018) $49,380 (for all fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 7% (for all fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators)
Key Skills Creativity, artistic ability, dexterity, customer service, business, and interpersonal skills
Similar Occupations Graphic designer, industrial designer, photographer, woodworker, art director, fashion designer

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Baccalaureate Degree Programs

Four-year bachelor's programs include coursework in 2-D and 3-D design, art history, color theory, and drawing. You'll spend much of your time completing studio art workshops, which can also include figure drawing and painting. Illustration concentrations might introduce you to book, editorial, and digital illustration. Additionally, it's likely that coursework in computer art applications and software will be incorporated into the curriculum. Most programs require you to develop a professional portfolio as you move through the program.

Graduate Degree Programs

Master's programs are available for those with strong illustration skills and professional experience. A Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) is the terminal degree for a studio artist. Admission typically requires submitting a portfolio of professional, original work. These programs are generally geared towards enhancing your existing skills. In addition to extensive art studio work, you might encounter courses in the book, business, and digital illustration. As you move through the program, you are expected to develop a thesis project. The last phase of the project might require putting up a public exhibit and defending the thesis.

Other Options

Post-secondary education can also be accessed through independent art and design schools, which usually confer specialty certificates. Internships or apprenticeship programs, workshops, noncredit classes, and private lessons are also available at studios, centers and galleries, firms, schools, and other related institutions.

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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