Full-Time vs. Freelance Illustrator Career Potential

Full-Time vs Freelance Illustrator Career Potential
by: Melanie Feltham, B.A, B.Sc.
The question that enters every illustrators mind at some point in their career is this: Full-time or freelance?
Both full-time illustration and freelance illustration have career potential. Choosing one over the other will depend on your current life situation, your experience, how talented you are, and if you have the motivation necessary to be your own boss.  
Full-time Illustrator Career Potential
The number one benefit of being a full-time illustrator, of course, is a steady paycheck. Those of you starting right out of school are familiar with the phrase “poor student.” It is not attractive to go right from being a poor student to being a starving artist.  
Another benefit of being a full-time illustrator is that it is a great way to gain experience. Do not look at the full-time illustration career as an end. Instead, look at it as more of a means to an end. Full-time work, even at a starters salary, is a great way to build a reputation. It is something that will give you a good advantage over the rest of the pack if you decide to freelance in the future and it will allow you to build your portfolio. 
In addition, a full-time illustrator position at a small firm can lead to a full-time illustrator position at a larger, more prestigious, and higher paying firm. Many firms also offer benefit packages that include vacation time, a retirement plan, and health and dental insurance.
Freelance Illustrator Career Potential
The number one benefit of being a freelance illustrator is that of freedom. Not only can you have the freedom to choose the type of work you will do, but you also have the freedom to choose your hours and to work from anywhere. 
There is also potentially more money in this avenue. Many companies are preferring to hire on a job by job basis because they do not have sufficient work to have an illustrator on staff. There is fierce competition among freelance illustrators, however, as can be seen in the bidding wars that take place for illustration jobs on freelancing websites. These are arguably not the best place to look for work. The best way to build a client base is through word of mouth and networking. This adds a social aspect to the job that also may not be felt in the full-time setting. Networking in person with local business is a great way to start. Creating accounts on sites such as LinkedIn will also help clients to find you. Instead of advertising positions, companies are using these websites to search for potential employees that have the specific skills they are looking for. This cuts down on a bombardment of hundreds of useless resumes that would need to be sifted through.
Freelance Illustration is also a potential career option if you have not had any formal training. It will allow you to build a portfolio of work that you can use on resumes to apply for full-time positions.

 

Both full-time illustration and freelance illustrators have career potential. Choosing one over the other will depend on your current life situation, your experience, how talented you are, and if you have the motivation necessary to be your own boss.  

Full-time Illustrator Career Potential

The number one benefit of being a full-time illustrator, of course, is a steady paycheck. Those of you starting right out of school are familiar with the phrase “poor student.” It is not attractive to go right from being a poor student to being a starving artist.  

Another benefit of being a full-time illustrator is that it is a great way to gain experience. Do not look at the full-time illustration career as an end. Instead, look at it as more of a means to an end. Full-time work, even at a starter's salary, is a great way to build a reputation. It is something that will give you a good advantage over the rest of the pack if you decide to freelance in the future and it will allow you to build your portfolio. 

In addition, a full-time illustrator position at a small firm can lead to a full-time illustrator position at a larger, more prestigious and higher paying firm. Many firms also offer benefit packages that include vacation time, a retirement plan, and health and dental insurance.

Freelance Illustrator Career Potential

The number one benefit of being a freelance illustrator is that of freedom. Not only can you have the freedom to choose the type of work you will do, but you also have the freedom to choose your hours and to work from anywhere. 

There is also potentially more money in this avenue. Many companies are preferring to hire on a job by job basis because they do not have sufficient work to have an illustrator on staff. There is fierce competition among freelance illustrators, however, as can be seen in the bidding wars that take place for illustration jobs on freelancing websites. These are arguably not the best place to look for work.

The best way to build a client base is through word of mouth and networking. This adds a social aspect to the job that also may not be felt in the full-time setting. Networking in person with local business is a great way to start. Creating accounts on sites such as LinkedIn will also help clients to find you. Instead of advertising positions, companies are using these websites to search for potential employees that have the specific skills they are looking for. This cuts down on a bombardment of hundreds of useless resumes that would need to be sifted through.

Freelance illustration is also a potential career option if you have not had any formal training. It will allow you to build a portfolio of work that you can use on resumes to apply for full-time positions.