How to Become an Illustrator

Mar 18, 2016 | Creative, Illustrations

Being an illustrator, or any kind of artist for that matter, opens the door for endless possibilities. With endless possibilities, come endless questions. What supplies do I need? Do I need formal training? How do I get noticed? Am I even good enough to become an illustrator? If you find yourself wondering these types of questions, you’ve come to the right place.

Tools of the Trade

No art supplies are one size fits all. It pretty safe to start out with just a pen/pencil and paper for the learning period. Once you’ve become comfortable using those, you can move up to markers or paint. Use whatever you have or go out and pick supplies that intrigue you. Illustrating, like all art, is just trying out different things until you find something that sticks. Whenever you feel okay with illustrating traditionally, start moving towards digital art. With our world today, it’s imperative to know how to create art digitally in the illustration world. Take baby steps, though. Draw something using pen, take a picture of it (or scan it if you’re feeling fancy), upload it into whatever art software you can get your hands on, and start tweaking it. Many new illustrators, myself being one of them, can tend to be intimidated by the transition from traditional to digital illustration, so be easy on yourself and take your time.

Illustration Tools

Getting Started

There are many ways to learn illustration. First and foremost, you do not have to start out with any art skills whatsoever. All you need to start out with is an open mind and a willing heart. Personally, I grew up with a very creative family and I was creative in my own ways, but although I drew little doodles and pictures for my mom to hang on our fridge, I never took art seriously until my twenties. I started searching through artists online and wondered if I could become an artist myself. The best way to learn is to get inspired. One of my favorite artists, Jake Parker, calls finding inspiration filling your “creative bank account.” If you’re excited to learn by letting yourself be inspired, you’re heart will be in the right place. Do this by searching for art anywhere and everywhere. Instagram, Pinterest, art galleries, children’s books, magazines, around your community. Look at what kids are drawing, how people decorate their houses, or even the personal style of people around you.

Crafting Your Skill

You don’t have to know everything there is to know about art to become an illustrator, but you should try to learn the basics. Knowing the basics will allow you to stretch your skills further. There are many ways to start learning the basics of illustrating. You could attend a local class, maybe on life drawing, calligraphy, painting, or even photography. You could also go to your local book, craft, or art store and find books on illustrating. The internet also opens up endless opportunities to learn. Find an artist who shares tutorials or process videos on Youtube, or attend a virtual class through websites such as Skillshare or Society of Visual Storytelling. Learning through any and all of these will you only help you more. You will start to create your own process and style through these as well.

Branching Out

If you are anything like me, once you start illustrating on a daily basis, you may want to start inching towards illustrating as a profession. This was the most intimidating part for me. Artists tend to be hardest on our own work, especially since we are constantly getting inspired by other artists we look up to. First of all, don’t even think about telling yourself you will never be as good as those other artists. Every artist started somewhere. Once you get that thought out of your head, forward is the only place to look. Art is always about learning. Now, If you feel like you’d rather just dip your toes in the water instead of diving straight in, you can take on small projects on your own or find either a mentor who can lead you in the right directions (and maybe even help you make connections) If you’re feeling a little more daring, you can look into an internship, like I did, with a company, like myheartcreative, willing to take in someone who is still learning. Like many things in life, there won’t be a magical sign that tells you you are fully prepared and ready. You can never know everything about illustration, so you might as well start working while you learn.

Never Stop Creating

The most important thing to remember about any type of creating is to never stop. Illustration, like many other skills, come from practice. If you stop practicing, your skills may not be as sharp and you may find yourself stuck in a rut. It’s also important to remember not to limit yourself. If you start getting frustrated with drawing, try something new. Pick up a paintbrush (believe me, the mindset of painting is much different from drawing). Plant some flowers. Color in a coloring book (and no, it doesn’t have to be an adult coloring book). Play an instrument. Take some photos. Write a song. Style an outfit. Creativity takes on endless forms, so don’t be afraid to create your way through a creative rut.

I hope these tips have left you inspired to find your inner creativity and dive into the world of Illustration.

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