To be an illustrator.


 What do you need to be an illustrator ?

If like me your wanting to go down the career path of being an illustrator you may have hit that fork in the road with a big sign above it that says “Your journey begins here”. Whether you just left university or have had a complete career change, when the excitement settles down you can start to feel hesitant as to what you need to actually begin your journey as an illustrator. 

Here I’ve come up with my top 5 things you need to successfully start out as an illustrator being my first year starting as a freelancer myself these are things I have and couldn’t do without.


I cannot express how important this definetly is for new entrepreneurs and creative businesses entering the industry. There are plenty of business scheme’s ran by universities to help post graduates start their journey into their field. 

Your going to really need to know the in’s and out’s of your business, things such as your own book keeping, sorting taxs, marketing, branding, cash flow, budgeting and so much more. Fortunately for me I’ve got help from the Speed plus scheme here in staffordshire as I started my venture into illustration, they give me the training, support and advice I need and its really reassuring to have somebody there to answer your questions. 


Getting the support of your fellow creatives or just networking with other like minded people can really boost your confidence and reassurance in yourself. There are some fantastic creative groups  like Zero2Illo and more who offer confidential help and business guidance to new start up’s and it also gives you a different outlook into your career path communicating with fellow illustrators who have years of experience in the industry. 

Being a freelancer can be isolating work, you may work on your own quite alot and its to easy to get stuck in a rut with your drawings or a latest commission offer you’ve had but your not sure of the pricing or simply want feedback on your work, these groups are great and definetly worth the investment.

Make sure you invest in everything you need to do your work to the professional standard you can. Starting out you may have a portfolio built up from university or you may feel that your body of work isn’t just quite there yet and want to spend more time on it. 

Either way make sure you have everything you need to have to really commit to your passion and carry on producing work to show your audience your skill, standard and quality. When I say invest in everything you need I don’t mean spend every penny you have just get the basics of what you need, once money slowly comes in you can make further invests as and when. 

An online portfolio is a definite must have , it will be the one most valued aspect of your business that you will have to really communicate with other people what you can do. If you don’t already have a portfolio website but can’t yet invest in having one built from scratch , there are websites such as deviant art or weebly.com who allow you for a fee to create an online portfolio to display your work. It maybe temporary but your portfolio will most likely change as your business grows. 

This really does depend on your circumstances but having another job  or source of income alongside pursuing your career as an illustrator can really help ease financial pressures. If you can earn enough to cover your personal outgoings then you may have money spare to invest into your business. 

This is where its key to make a personal survival budget  and you can find plenty of blank templates online to fill in your own figures to help give you a better outlook as to how much you have financially to invest in what you do.  Some illustrators may work part time I do and thats what works best for me right now, but the plan is as your business grows these job roles switch place.

I hope this is helpful to you as you begin your illustration career , it can be easy to doubt yourself but unless you try people won’t be able to see what talent and inspiring work you can create. 

Kate x
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