Job type


£18k - £40k

Typical salary

18 – 41

Hours per week

Illustrators produce drawings, paintings or diagrams for use in products like books and greetings cards, or on packaging.

More info

  • Use your creative skills to produce illustrations for books, magazines or other products
  • You'll normally work for yourself, but there are opportunities to work for companies such as design agencies or greetings cards companies
  • You'll often work to a specific client brief and need to negotiate timescales and fees, but you could find an agent to help with this

Illustrators use creativity combined with set briefs to produce a variety of illustrations, often specialising in one area, like technical, children's books or advertising.


  • Discuss requirements (or 'briefs') with authors, editors or designers,
  • Negotiate prices and timescales
  • Decide on the right style for illustrations
  • Create illustrations using hand drawing, painting or computer design packages
  • If you work for yourself, you'll also need to promote your business and manage your own finances (or you may be able to get an agent to help with this)


You could work in a creative studio, from home or at a client's business. 

If freelance, you'll usually arrange your own hours depending on your workload and the deadlines you have to meet.

You'll need

This role would suit someone with thoroughness and attention to detail, design skills and knowledge, knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software, thinking and reasoning skills, initiative, to be able to accept criticism, work well under pressure, and be flexible and open to change.

You'll usually need a higher national diploma or degree in illustration or a related subject like fine art or graphic design.

You could do an advanced apprenticeship in graphic design, then with experience and further training, move into illustration work.

You can also market your work by contacting companies directly. Advice and tips about being a freelance illustrator can be found in The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook.

As a freelance illustrator you'll need creativity to get your work noticed, with a portfolio to showcase your work to prospective clients or for entry onto courses. Furthermore, building a website or having a good presence on social media sites like Instagram is a great way of connecting with potential customers.


With experience and graphic design skills you could work for a design agency, publishing company or magazine. You could also specialise further, moving into areas such as architectural or archaeological illustration.