Are You Thinking of Becoming an Illustrator?

Are You Thinking of Becoming an Illustrator?

By Access Courses Online Tutor for Art and Design, Kieran Ingram.

Are You Thinking of Becoming an Illustrator?

The world of illustration is a mesmerizing and wondrous one, captivating audiences for generations. Whether it's a children's book, a magazine cover or an advertising campaign, illustrations have the power to tell stories and evoke emotions in a unique and captivating way. For aspiring artists who dream of entering this industry, it can be a challenging path, but with dedication, hard work and the right strategies, anyone can make their mark in the world of illustration.

One of the first steps for aspiring illustrators is to develop their skills. Practice is key when it comes to honing one's artistic abilities. You should engage with mentors, take courses and practice drawing and creating illustrations regularly. Consistency and dedication really helps you to develop a style that stands out. Experiment with different techniques and mediums, and use feedback constructively to keep improving and refining your work.

As you’re honing your skills, you’ll be building a portfolio. A well-organized portfolio that showcases your best work is a vital tool in gaining recognition in the industry. A portfolio should demonstrate versatility across styles and mediums, as well as show your ability to work within specific guidelines and briefs. Make sure to include a variety of works that demonstrate your range, from character designs to editorial illustrations and everything in between. Websites like Artstation ( can be a great place to showcase your work and connect with other artists (both professional and aspiring).

Networking is also helpful in the world of illustration. Try to attend industry events, join research organisations and connect with other illustrators, art directors and editors to build a solid network. Connecting with like-minded professionals can lead to potential job opportunities, collaborations, and visibility in the industry. Find community by joining organisations, social media groups (Facebook is a good place to start), or attending workshops and events. Introduce yourself, exchange contact information and be open to feedback.

Aspiring illustrators should also seek out job opportunities that can help them gain experience and build their resumes. Search for freelance or entry-level jobs, internships or volunteer opportunities. Job search websites, such as Indeed or LinkedIn, can be a great starting point. Additionally, reaching out to publishers, art directors or agencies that might require illustration services can lead to potential job opportunities.

Marketing oneself and building a personal brand is another crucial step in gaining visibility and standing out in the industry. Create a personal website or online portfolio (as mentioned above - Artstation can be a great place to start) and share your work regularly on social media (Instagram, Facebook and Reddit etc.).

Lastly, persistence and motivation are key attributes that budding illustrators should possess. Starting a career in illustration can be challenging and competitive, but with persistence, a positive attitude, and an eagerness to learn, one can succeed and create a prosperous career as an illustrator. Make sure to celebrate your successes and learn from your failures, always pushing yourself to learn and grow. Embrace the journey, and use these tips to set yourself on the path to making your mark on the industry and inspiring audiences around the world.


Five great book suggestions for students interested in illustration:

1. "The Art of Urban Sketching" by Gabriel Campanario: This book showcases the work of talented artists who capture the essence of urban spaces through plein air (on-location) sketching. It can be a great source of inspiration for aspiring illustrators who want to learn how to sketch quickly and capture the spirit of a place.

2. "How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way" by Stan Lee and John Buscema: This classic book is a comprehensive guide to comic book illustration - providing step-by-step instructions and tips for drawing superheroes, villains, and other comic book characters.

3. "Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter" by James Gurney: This book explores the principles of color and light and how they can be used to create realistic and compelling illustrations. It includes a wealth of practical tips and techniques for painting and drawing.

4. "Creative Illustration" by Andrew Loomis: This book is a bit dated for contemporary tastes but it’s a classic guide to illustration techniques that covers everything from basic drawing skills to advanced composition and it is available for free as a PDF.

5. "The Illustration Idea Book" by Ana Benaroya: This book is a collection of creative prompts and exercises designed to help aspiring illustrators find their unique voice. It can be a great source of inspiration for artists who are looking to push their boundaries and explore new styles.


Kieran is a tutor to students working on the Access the HE Diploma (Art and Design). With so many pathways and career choices for art students, it is important to establish a good working relatioship with any one of our top tutors for this course. Whether you are a budding illustrator, photographer, fine artist, textiles or fashion designer, graphics designer, architect or sculptor...we have something for everyone to get onto the right degree course for you.

Kieran Ingram:

I am an Australian artist based in Sheffield, UK. I studied classical painting and drawing in Florence, Italy from 2007 to 2009 before beginning my career as a professional artist in 2010. In addition to creating, exhibiting and selling my own artworks across the world, I have also been teaching art for the past 10 years.

In 2016 and 2018 I featured on Sky Landscape Artist of the Year and Sky Portrait Artist of the Year respectively.

Still life is the primary focus of my own practice as I love the control over composition and attention to detail afforded by this type of painting. Literature, natural history, archaeology and anthropology are common subjects explored through my work.

You can see my work at

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