Freelance Illustrator Job Profile

A freelance illustrator can use imagination and artistic ability to envision almost any project. It's a profession where you can determine exactly how your talent can be used. There is, though, also a lot of hard work and networking involved in being successful. In this article, we'll profile what exactly goes into being a freelance illustrator.

Job description

A freelance illustrator uses the visual arts, such as drawing and painting, to communicate ideas to clients and customers. As a freelancer, he offers his services to various clients and is not tied down to any one employer (although some projects can be very long term). The illustrator often brainstorms with his client to provide the best possible artwork. This is where the illustrator needs to demonstrate his personal communication skills. Negotiating with clients and providing what they need requires exceptional tact and listening ability.

Here are just a few examples of projects that the freelance illustrator might undertake:

  • ideas for a new line of greeting cards,
  • product illustrations for a shoe catalog,
  • brochure design for a city or state's tourist department and
  • technical illustrations for a new line of hydraulic equipment.

And that doesn't even scratch the surface. The variety of potential projects is truly unlimited.

Job Qualifications

Of course, artistic ability is a must for an illustrator. A degree in art or design is helpful but not absolutely essential to be hired. What is required is a strong portfolio of your work. This should include examples of past successful illustration jobs you've done. If you are just starting out, work done during your schooling can be used. Above all, make sure you tailor at least some of the portfolio to your prospective employer. Architectural illustrations might look nice, but if you're trying to get a job illustrating a dress catalog, they might not do much good.

In today's high-tech world, much illustration is done using computer-aided design (CAD). A background in this can only be helpful. If you've taken classes in CAD and used it in the past, make sure prospective clients know this.

There are certain intangible qualities a freelance illustrator must also posses. Imagination is one of these. You must be able to envision how something will look before it is an actual reality. You must also be a salesman; in this case, the product you are selling is your own artistic vision. Communications skills are a must for a freelancer.

Illustrator Income and Prospects

Exact wages for freelance illustrators are difficult to pinpoint due to the nature of the work. At the highest end of the scale, the best freelancers can "name their own price"; some of the best freelance comic artists make more than $100,000 a year. Conversely, those freelancers just starting out and without an extensive portfolio can expect about $10.00 per hour. National estimates place the average salary around $40,000 a year in 2009.

Job prospects for freelance illustrators are expected to grow at an average pace. However, competition between freelancers for jobs is expected to be extremely keen. This is where the freelancer needs to promote himself aggressively.

One terrific place to promote your work as a freelance illustrator and learn more is