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Exploring the Artistic World: A Guide to a Rewarding Career as an Illustrator

Career as an Illustrator

Do you have a fascination for sketching and drawing? Are you seriously involved in these? Do you love to use pencils or use a computer program to sketch? Do you love to play with colors and create your drawings on paper or using graphic design software? If the answers are yes and you want to explore something beyond the conventional and popular careers in science, arts and commerce, this could be a good choice for you.

An Illustrator visually illustrates a creative idea, a concept, a scene of a movie, visuals of a television advertisement or print advertisement, storyboards of an animation film, a logo, a product package, a scene of a movie or a theatre, and so on. She does the sketches using different types of pencils or design software. The sketches are then used to develop full scales drawings and designs.

Why become an Illustrator?

As an Illustrator, you will create a concept or original artwork using an array of mediums and techniques. You will be creating visual depictions of texts, concepts, topics, stories and thoughts through the use of pen and ink, pencils, pastels, watercolor and computer software. You will have to use your skills to explain and simplify concepts through visual representation.

You will interact and negotiate with clients over projects and talk about the requirements and limitations. Later, you will present preliminary sketches for the client’s consideration. You will create and present original content for visual and artistic stimulation.

  1. Concept Artist: For a concept illustration, an artist may present several interpretations and projections based on a certain theme, text, topic or concept. The themes may be client-given or original artistic conceptions of the illustrator. They may usually include fantasy illustrations, gaming illustrations, or animation. The client has the freedom to choose from and see the different stages of development
  2. Comic Book Illustrator: Comic book illustrators are people working within the comic medium on comic strips, comic books, or graphic novels. They are artists who contribute to producing work in the comic form, from those who oversee all aspects of the work to those who contribute only a part.
  3. Children’s Book Illustrator: Children’s book illustrators involve colorful and simplistic drawings to facilitate young people—even those who cannot read yet—to understand or pay better attention to a story.
  4. Medical Illustrator: A medical illustrator is a professional artist with advanced education in both the life sciences and visual communication. Collaborating with scientists, physicians, and other specialists, medical illustrators transform complex information into visual images that have the potential to communicate to broad audiences.
  5. Scientific Illustrator: Scientific illustrators visually represent aspects of science, particularly observations of the natural world. The emphasis in scientific illustration is on accuracy and utility, rather than on aesthetics, although scientific illustrators are skilled artists and often known for aesthetic values.
  6. Technical Illustrator: Technical illustrators work with design teams and technical writers to create an array of technical graphics. A technical illustrator takes information from text or data and creates illustrations that communicate this information concisely and accurately.
  7. Illustrator (Advertising): In advertising, illustrators seek to create illustrations with a commercial or ideological message with the intention of catching the consumer’s eye and creating a lasting impression.
  8. Digital Illustrator: Digital illustration is an artistic work or practice that uses digital technology and makes use of computer software as part of the creative or presentation process. Some examples of this software include:
  9. Adobe Photoshop
  10. Adobe Illustrator
  11. Inkscape
  12. Corel Painter
  13. Adobe Indesign

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What does an Illustrator do?

  • Use pens and ink, watercolors, charcoal, oil, or computer software to create artwork.
  • Confer with clients, editors, writers, art directors, regarding the nature and content of artwork as required.
  • Marketing your artwork through brochures, mailings, or Web sites.
  • Study various techniques to learn how to apply them to artistic endeavors.
  • Keep an eye on events, trends, and other circumstances, attend art exhibitions and read art publications to develop ideas.
  • Setting up exhibitions of artwork for display or sale.
  • Provide drawings, illustrations, and sketches of buildings, manufactured products, or models, working from sketches, blueprints, memory, models, or reference materials.
  • Submit artwork to shows or galleries.
  • Submit preliminary artwork or project plans to clients for approval, incorporating changes as necessary.

How to become an Illustrator – Eligibility Criteria

For Diploma:

After finishing 10+2, you can go for a Diploma in Fine Arts/Diploma In Graphic Design/ITI courses in Graphics, Animation and Multimedia to kickstart your career as an illustrator.

After 10+2, there are several institutes and education outlets across India that provide a 3 to 12-month diploma courses in Painting, Drawing, Illustration, Adobe products, and Graphic Design.

You can also train as an illustrator under the PMKVY (Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana) scheme.

Alternatively, after you complete your secondary education, there is also a host of easily available drawing, painting and sketching online certification courses on websites such as Udemy, Edx, Coursera, etc. A lot of people are turning to teaching themselves with the help of these comprehensive online courses.

You may also go for the Adobe Creative Cloud certification courses.

Educational Fees

The cost of studying Illustrator in India can vary depending on various factors such as the type of course, duration, location, and the institute offering the course.

One of the popular options for learning Illustrator in India is through graphic design courses offered by design institutes, universities, or colleges. The cost of a graphic design course in India can range from INR 50,000 to INR 5,00,000 depending on the duration and reputation of the institute. A full-time diploma or certificate course in graphic design with a duration of 6-12 months can cost around INR 50,000 to INR 2,00,000, while a degree course in graphic design can cost around INR 1,00,000 to INR 5,00,000 for a duration of 3-4 years.

Job Opportunities

After completing your ITI/diploma course or vocational training, there are a host of industries you can work as an illustrator in, such as the advertising sector, print industry, media, and entertainment. Following are some of the entry-level jobs present as an Illustrator:

  • Comic Book Illustrator
  • Advertising Illustrator
  • Storyboard Artist
  • Scientific Illustrator
  • Technical Illustrator
  • Visual Artist
  • Sketching Artist
  • Newspaper And  Magazine Illustrator
  • Children’s Book Illustrator

Some Organization where you can find jobs:

  • Studio Fifi
  • Fish Eye
  • Design Bucket
  • Newspapers And Magazines
  • Film Production Studios/Post Production Studios

Salary of an Illustrator

The salary scale as an Illustrator highly varies according to the job profiles.

The Average starting salaries as freshers for Graphic Designers, Print Illustrators,  and Book Illustrators lie in the bracket of 12,000-22,000 per month.

Advertising Industries usually offer better pay, and starting jobs can be found at Rs 18,000 to 25,000 per month.

As you get experienced and acquire more skills, you will attract better offers and make your salary scale rise to fall in the 30,000-60,000 per month bracket, especially with mastering tools such as Adobe Illustrator.

The salaries can vary to greater heights, as most illustrator jobs are artistically oriented and often independent, and earn according to how much skill or experience they develop.

Career progression in Illustration profession

Career growth as an illustrator is relatively moderate. You can hold editorial, managerial and team leader positions after 7-8 years of experience.

Indian media and entertainment (M&E) industry has grown at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 10.90 percent from the financial year 2017-18, and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.10 percent to touch Rs 2,660.20 billion (US$ 39.68 billion) by the financial year 2022-23 from Rs 1,436.00 billion (US$ 22.28 billion) in 2018. All these figures look promising as far as the future of illustrators goes. Since most of the Illustrator jobs present are in the media, entertainment, and advertising agencies, the rapid growth and good fortunes of these industries indicate a solid future prospect for illustrators.

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