An illustrator is an authentic, passionate, and dedicated visual artist with the ability to create drawings, images, paintings, graphically capture concepts, and communicate ideas.
An illustrator makes a living creating graphic materials with artistic and graphic techniques.
The tools he works with are varied from black pencil, ink, papers, cardboard, woods, colored pencils, crayons, pens, acrylic paint, oil paint, airbrush, watercolors, computer, a variety of photographic retouching software, drawing and composition, printer, drawing tablet, photo camera and many more.
An illustrator creates information in visual format for different supports and formats:
- Printed books: Illustrations for covers and internal pages of children’s books and in general.
- Advertising: TV ads, Banners, graphic ads, storyboards, narratives, promotional campaigns, products and brands.
- Web pages: digital objects and vignettes, web spot illustrations.
- Mobile: Application interface icons.
- Technical, corporate or educational manuals.
- Cards on paper.
- Printed calendars.
- Printed newspapers.
- Printed magazines.
- Storyboards, shooting and comics on paper or in digital format.
- Character illustrations to be digitally animated.
- Marketing icons.
- Signage / signage.
- Murals and Interiors of offices.
As in any profession, an illustrator can specialize in one area:
Medical Illustrator: graphically develops medical, technical, or scientific manuals to illustrate parts of the body or show the impact of disease on the body.
Business illustrator: works in the development of products, parts, objects.
Advertising Illustration: illustrate advertising campaigns, create more visually appealing product graphics.
Technical illustrator: generally creates illustrations of parts and objects that are used in technical instruction manuals.
To be an illustrator you need to be ready for change, many times clients ask for modifications or it may happen that they change course in the middle of the process and have to start sketching again, so it is key to be tolerant and be prepared for the last minute change. An illustrator works with designers, illustrators, animators, content strategists, and product designers.
The daily life of an illustrator
It depends on the situation of each illustrator, their own organization and the work they are preparing at the time.
A freelance illustrator will probably start his daily activity by reviewing his work schedule, the list of pending tasks and he will do it from his own study, from his home or in a company office, he will read the mail, he will organize meetings with brands and clients to gather information and show your progress to the team or to clients.
When an illustrator is hired to work in a company, remotely or as a freelance freelancer, he develops his initial activity beginning to capture sketches and will show it to the client for approval and changes; once the sketch is approved you can start working on the final idea.
The illustrator will do his best to capture his own style, in the beginning, in addition to creating hundreds of sketches and drawings for brands, products, he will invest time in learning, updating and networking to generate his own income.
Find out what to study to be an Illustrator
What are the tools to learn?
Image retouching, optimization and management programs; digital drawing and painting; design and layout of printed and digital media.
Free and paid tools such as: Gimp, Krita, Gimp, Clip Studio Paint PRO, Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, Autodesk SketchBook, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Sketch (for Mac), Affinity Designer, After Effects among others .
What to study to be an illustrator?
To learn to illustrate, there are informal or regulated training options, from the self-taught path to specialized schools and academies for learning to draw. There are also complete university degrees where you learn to illustrate, such as Art or Fine Arts.
What does it take to be an Illustrator?
- Be a creative attentive to detail, be curious and want to experiment.
- Ability to work alone or in a team.
- Organizational skills.
- Ability to work on many digital platforms with multiple teams.
- Ability to capture ideas and quickly generate new concepts.
- It requires systems thinking.
- Passion for imagining and executing high quality work. For example, in a company, the role of the illustrator may be to apply the company’s illustration and color system to the product, while collaborating with the Design team to ensure consistency and quality throughout the process.
Tasks that an illustrator can perform:
- Execute creative briefs.
- Generate clear ideas and concepts.
- Produce sketches, storyboards, campaign ads, etc.
- Organize and document the graphic assets of a brand.
- Write guidelines for style and use.
- Create illustration assets of all kinds.
- Create still and moving images.
- Manage individual projects in an organized manner that ensures timely delivery and a clear workflow.
- Collaborate closely with product designers, art directors, and creative directors.
- As a member of a company, the illustrator collaborates for example with the marketing, creativity and UX team to ensure a consistent and cohesive brand expression through illustration and iconography.
- Take the work from concept to final execution within the established deadlines.
- Ensuring storyboards align with the team’s creative goals and encompass storytelling goals.
What general requirements do companies ask to work as an Illustrator?
- A Portfolio showing relevant work and a link to your resume. An excellent virtual portfolio with illustrations and iconography, with works that range from products to marketing deliverables. In some companies they may apply for a Diploma or Bachelor of Fine Arts, Design, Multimedia or a related field.
- Strong presentation, interpersonal, communication and time management skills.
- Self-motivation to prioritize and manage your own workload.
- Passion for creating illustration stories and illustration creation for various platforms.
- Illustration experience in a creative agency or in an internal design team in a company.
- Brand building experience.
- Illustration expertise in a diverse set of styles.
- Deep knowledge of color, composition and digital production.
- Mastery of the principles of visual and communication design, including hierarchy, typography and grid systems, with experience in applying these principles to digital and print experiences.
- Excellent documentation skills.
- Reliable and good team player who enjoys a fast-paced environment.
- Ability to collaborate with the different areas of a company, such as the marketing area, the product and the content, in an iterative work environment.
- Stay on top of all trends and maintain best practices.
- Advanced knowledge in image retouching, optimization and management programs.
- Hands-on experience with storyboard illustration and video production.
Without hesitation, an illustrator is a off-road artist with an absolute passion for drawing, who experiments and creates regardless of the final medium.
We thank Johan Potma, for allowing us to take photos of his work and allowing us to enter his studio “the Cheese Mountain Tragedy” at Schönleinstrasse 32, 10967 Kreuzberg, Berlin during the #Rutansqe.