Careers in Illustration

sidebar students

Illustrators have the ability to communicate emotions and ideas as a creative visual. Careers in this field can range from illustrating for entertainment and educational purposes to teaching to being a fine artist.

Advertising Illustrator

Illustrate storyboards for commercials, new product ideas, campaign ideas and proposals to win new business. Create layout sketches of designs, logo ideas, and illustrations that are included in corporate reports, print materials, direct mail, point of purchase displays, posters, signage, billboards.

Book Illustrator

Most often paired with a professional writer, book illustrators create drawings and designs that accompany stories or information told in books or educational materials.

Comic Illustrator

Entrepreneur, freelancer or staff artist that draw, storyboard, and sometimes write narrative stories for comic books. Jobs are split up in larger companies to meet demanding production deadlines.

Courtroom Illustrator

Create drawings of court trials for newspapers and television networks and stations.

Children's Book Illustrator

Create drawings and designs that accompany stories told children's books or educational materials. Some illustrators write their own books, but most often a publisher pairs them with a professional writer.

Editorial Illustrator

Creates illustrations that tell a story to accompany magazine articles, newspaper stories or to be used as book covers, or in corporate reports.

Fashion Illustrator

Illustrate for fashion magazines, pattern companies, newspapers, department stores, shops, fashion designers.

Fine Artist

Fine artists sell work to individuals, galleries, interior designers, architects, libraries, community centers, churches, banks, hotels, government and elsewhere on a freelance basis or by commission. They must be self-motivated and able to accept criticism. At times work is commissioned, but most often it is created and sold afterwards.

Freelance Illustrator

Illustrators design and create images for magazines, publishers, film studios, newspapers, advertising agencies, design firms, and museums. Illustrators usually specialize in one or two areas such as book illustration, storyboard illustration for movies/TV, fashion illustration, medical illustration, greeting card illustration, or magazine illustration. Professional illustrators may work as freelancers or full-time for companies producing stationery products, greeting cards, wrapping paper, or publications. No degree is required to become an illustrator, but a bachelor's degree will help to advance skills, build a portfolio, and make business connections.

Graphic Designer

Artists who have talent in both illustration and graphic designs create their own brochure designs, T-shirts, hats, posters or retail products. A very marketable combination of skills.

Illustration Agent or Representative

A sales and marketing position representing and promoting illustrators (usually a "stable" of 3-6 illustrators) by showing their portfolios to potential clients, marketing and selling their art work , negotiating contracts and prices for freelance jobs. Usually paid on a commission basis from 20% to 40% of the fee with an average of about 25% on each assignment he or she gets for the artist.

Instructor or Professor

Teaches classes either as a part-time adjunct or full-time instructor at a college or university. May also design courses or assist with curriculum development. Typically requires a terminal degree such as a MFA.

Medical or Technical Illustrator

Produce illustrations, technical drawings and maps for medical, technical and scientific journals, manuals and books. Often computer illustration.

Political Cartoonist

Political cartoonists create drawings and illustrations that stand alone or accompany stories told in magazine articles, newspapers, or books.


Illustration Alum Spotlight

Thanks to a small car, a few connections, and ample curiosity, Tuesday Bassen started a New York-based career within months of graduating MCAD.


Educational Opportunities at MCAD