What Is Illustration Design?

Unlike designers who develop logos and similar images, illustration designers are frequently expected to create lively, character-driven illustrations with personality and often a touch of humor. Read on to learn more. Schools offering Children`s Book Illustration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Field Overview

Those who work in the field of illustration design are typically called illustrators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly half of all craft and fine artists, including illustrators, were self-employed as of 2014. Finding work depends on the illustrator's talent, contacts, and networking abilities. Artists who are skilled in digital illustration design are especially in demand. Once hired, illustrators use their skills to create images that represent specific concepts.

Important Facts about Illustration Design

Median Pay (2018) $48,960 (for all fine artists)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 6% growth (for all fine artists)*
Similar Occupations Art director, graphic designer, multimedia artist, animator
Key Skills Artistic ability, creativity, business skills, dexterity, customer service skills, interpersonal skills

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education and Training

Artists who gravitate toward illustration usually have academic training in art, though they may not have a college degree. Some types of illustration design, such as medical illustration, require a minimum of a bachelor's degree that includes art and premedical courses, with many people in the field opting for a master's degree. Colleges, universities, art academies, and technical schools typically offer coursework in illustration, sketching, drawing, digital art, animation, and design. For all artists with or without a degree, a portfolio containing their best work is critical to getting a job as an employee or a contract as a freelancer.

Career Opportunities

Illustration design can be thought of as commercial art created for specific industries. Many illustration designers specialize and find consistent work in such fields as:

  • Book design and illustration
  • Television, cinema, and other multimedia endeavors
  • Comic books and graphic novels
  • Textbook illustration
  • Web design
  • Scientific and other specialized illustration
  • Storyboarding
  • Caricature
  • Fashion and costume design
  • Cartooning

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