9 Tips for Getting Started in Illustration

9 Tips for Getting Started in Illustration

Do you want to get started in illustration but do not know how to do that? This article gives you the top nine tips you need to become a pro in illustration.

Do you want to get started with illustration but do not know how to go about it? You are in the right place. We are going to discuss some of the top tips for you to get started and improve your skills in no time.

You can use different paths to become a talented illustrator. Some people go through university or college, books, online tutorials, and home experiments, among others. Different people choose different paths depending on their requirements.

No matter the path you choose to follow, there are basic tips that you need to understand for you to nail it as an illustrator. You also need to be ready to fight some challenges to emerge victorious. 

Here are a few tips for getting started in illustration;

Find a Specialty

Now that you want to get started in illustration, do you have a certain specialty that you want to lean on? You can find different illustration types and jobs, ranging from the courtroom to fashion, children’s books, and magazines, among others.

Finding a specialty that aligns with your passion is one of the most important things you need to do when getting started in illustration. It helps you understand your skills better and focus your energy on a certain field that is going to inspire you to work even harder.

Finding a specialty might not be easy for some people. You should, therefore, do a lot of research to find industries that match your goals and passion. This is because this specialty will play a crucial role in giving you the morale that you need to keep practicing every day on your journey to becoming a pro.

In addition, your specialty will play a crucial role when you start creating personal briefs and a portfolio. It will also help you find out where and how you should market your services.

Get a Sketchbook

Most people do not understand the importance of sketchbooks for illustrators. If you ask most professional illustrators, they will tell you that a sketchbook plays a very important role in their daily lives as illustrators.

The truth is that technological advancements have given birth to many digital tools that you can use as an illustrator. However, the traditional book and a pencil are crucial in helping you understand the basic composition elements, come up with ideas, and make it easy for you to start a design.

In addition, it helps you remain focused since you are stuck on a single page, compared to digital tools where you might get distracted by notifications from other applications. 

You can use a sketchbook to explore materials and ideas. If something comes to your mind, you can note it down or start a sketch to use later. So, get a sketchbook when getting started in illustration.

Practice Every Day

If you want to get good at something, no matter what it is, you need to start practicing every day. Similarly, if you want to get started in illustration and become a pro, you should find a way of practicing every day.

This can be a challenge for most people. If you are not able to keep up with your daily schedule, you can look for a challenge where you compete with other illustrators who are just getting started.

Using tags like #dailyillustrationchallenge or #drawingdays and many others, get into the best platforms for creatives and look for challenges. If you follow an illustrator, you can also ask them to add you to their daily challenges. This way, you will easily practice every day and even look forward to competing with other illustrators.

Look For Inspiration

Inspiration is one of the most important things for anyone who wants to get started in illustration. This is because it plays a crucial role when one wants to learn about things such as style, approaches, materials, and color, among others.

According to Chuck Groenink, a talented illustrator, remaining open, staying curious, going to museums, reading wide and far, and trying many things are the major things that have been instrumental in his career. He gets new project ideas from inspiration.

But where can you get inspiration from? Some good sources of inspiration might include graphic design blogs, old magazines, books, looking at what other illustrators are doing on different social media accounts, and visiting new places or even going for a walk.

Find a Good Source of Backgrounds

Before getting started in illustration, you need to do some research to understand what you are getting yourself into. You need to understand the things that are required and what you should do to achieve them.

One important part of an illustrator is the background of their work. You need to ensure that the background of your graphics stands out and meets your requirements as well as those of your clients. 

You can create these backgrounds from scratch. But why should you have to do that when we have amazing sources for backgrounds? For instance, you can get some of the best backgrounds at Freepik for use when getting started in illustration. This saves you time while at the same time giving you professional backgrounds.

Create Personal Briefs and Portfolio

Creating personal briefs and a portfolio is one thing that every other top illustrator recommends. After getting started in illustration, you might find yourself in a situation where no client is coming to you to get some work done.

However, you can make the clients come to you. So how do you do that? If, for instance, you want to be a botanical, fashion, pattern, editorial, or book illustrator, assume that you are the client and assign yourself projects.

You should handle this as a professional project with requirements and timelines. This will play an important role in helping you get into the professional world of illustrators and showing clients what you can do after adding it to your portfolio.

In addition, ensure that you are active on different social media platforms. You can take pictures of your designs and share them on these platforms. This is also another way of helping you create a portfolio.

Publicize Your Work

You will never be a successful illustrator if no one has ever seen your work or what you can do. You should, therefore, publicize your work. 

Apart from creating a website where people can see your work, you should also share your pieces of art on social media platforms such as Instagram.

Other platforms that are popular among illustrators include Behance and Ello. Ensure that you have created an account on these platforms and kept them updated. This is where you might land your first client.

You can also attend conferences and shows where artists are allowed to show their work. Here, get ready to explain your projects to attendees and ensure that you have your contacts or business cards ready. Someone might just be impressed by what you can do and get you a project.

Let Your Style Evolve With Time

Style is one thing that is never going to remain the same. It will always evolve and change. Sometimes, you might not even be aware that your illustration style is changing. The good news is that you do not have to force yourself to come up with a certain style.

The more you practice, the easier it will be for you to realize an illustration style. You will never find a formula that you can use to create your own style. Once you start creating and keep practicing, you will start noticing certain patterns that make your style.

The most important thing is to keep creating designs. Style is not permanent, it continues to evolve as you make more designs. It is, therefore, important to allow your style to evolve while still creating more designs. This way, you will remain relevant and will easily find projects as an illustrator.

Build a Network

Chances are that you are starting a career in the illustration to make money out of it (some people might get started for other reasons). You, therefore, need to start building a network that can help you to secure clients. But how can you do that?

Since you have already created a portfolio, you need to also share it. There are many channels, including social media platforms, where you can do that. Apart from helping you connect with other illustrators, these channels can also help you reach clients.

If, for instance, you have chosen a certain specialty, you can attend conferences or do some research on platforms such as LinkedIn where you can meet clients in the industry you have decided to focus on. As you keep on doing this, you will meet many people, whether clients or other illustrators. These are the people you need to add to your network.

Do not look at other illustrators as competitors. They are very important in helping you grow and even referring clients to you, especially when they know your specialty.

Get Started Today

If you want to be an illustrator, what are you waiting for? As discussed above, there are many paths you can follow to become a pro. However, the tips discussed above are important and can give you an edge over other illustrators.

Sawaram Suthar (Sam) is a Founding Director at Middleware. He has extensive experience in marketing, team building and operations. He is often seen working on various GTM practices and implementing the best ones to generate more demand. He has also founded a digital marketing blog - TheNextScoop.

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