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How to become an illustrator in Australia: careers in design

Illustrators make a living from the creation of illustrations and designs for books, magazines, advertisements, films and multimedia. They do their work on paper as well as in two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) models and may use traditional drawing methods, computer-techniques or a combination of both. They need to be good communicators who understand what their clients need so that they can fulfil their briefs.
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Pathways

Being an illustrator: daily duties

Illustrators create original ideas and illustrations for a variety of media and industries. This can include book covers, video games, magazines, storyboards and websites. They study project briefs from clients and select the appropriate style and medium to use. They research their topics and examine a range of photographs, artworks and so on to draw inspiration. , They prepare sketches, layouts and storyboards to explore different ideas. They create illustrations using paint, pen, ink, charcoal, photography and computer software and also create model characters, creatures, environments and interiors.

Tasks:

  • Create original designs and illustrations
  • Evaluate client requests
  • Use traditional art methods and software
  • Work to deadlines
  • Research topics for inspiration
Skills

Being an illustrator: skills for success

A natural artistic talent is essential to become an illustrator, as well as strong technical skills and a flair for creative work. Because this job often requires constant communication with clients, strong communication and people skills are essential. Illustrators often work in freelance roles so need to be organised and have administration skills in invoicing, cash flow and so on, as well as the ability to network and market themselves. The ability to work well under pressure and to deadlines is also a requirement.
Skills/attributes
  • Creative aptitude and ability to illustrate
  • Strong drive to succeed
  • Listening and interpersonal skills
  • Able to work independently
  • Able to work to briefs and specifications
Specs

Specialised roles within design

There are a number of specialisations that illustrators can pursue, from 2D and 3D animation to scientific and technical work through to app development. Illustration is a skill that is required across a range of industries in different mediums and formats.
  • Cartoonist
    Creating works that combine illustrations with words, cartoonists use humour, parody and irony to create illustrations that are designed to be engaging, persuasive and often subversive.
  • Technical illustrator
    Technical illustrators create schematics, engineering drawings, manuals and other materials that require highly detailed scientific drawings. They need to specialise in working with CAD and other tools, and can work with both traditional and digital media to create their work.
  • Architectural illustrator
    Architectural illustrators create drawings for streetscapes, parks and other architectural projects. They need to accurately depict building projects in different stages of completion. They work closely with architects, planners, councils, developers and other stakeholders.
Pathways

Educational pathways for illustrators

Illustrators don’t need formal requirements, however studying fine art at university or a design school will hone their skills and abilities.
  • Start your career
    Find a course to get you on your way in your illustration career.
  • Strengthen your skills
    Build on your illustration skill with one of these courses.
  • Build your resume
    Fine-tune your skills and boost your reputation as a professional illustrator with these additional qualifications.
  • Industry requirements
    There are no mandatory industry requirements to become an illustrator in Australia, but joining a professional illustration or design association may assist with networking opportunities.
  • Finding Work
    Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your design career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.
  • Employment Prospects
    While job prospects in the design industry are predicted to grow quite strongly, the salary of an illustrator is below average.

Resources for illustrators

Career FAQs makes every effort to ensure the information we provide is correct at the time of publication. We welcome your input to help keep our career profiles as accurate and up to date as possible. All queries and feedback will be taken into consideration as we conduct periodic reviews of our content. Add your voice to the conversation!


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