Do you have a passion for illustration and a burning desire to kickstart your career? If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll share five valuable tips to help you navigate the exciting world of illustration and set yourself up for success. So, grab your favorite sketchbook and let’s dive in!

1. Bring Your Personal Projects to Life

5 tips for beginning illustrators

Personal projects are like hidden gems waiting to be discovered. They not only allow you to build an impressive portfolio but also guide potential clients towards the kind of work they desire. Take inspiration from Claudine O’Sullivan, who kickstarted her career by creating captivating cover art for her own books. Her remarkable talent soon caught the attention of renowned platforms like MTV and WeTransfer. Remember, even a simple personal project can make a significant impact on your journey. So, set aside some time to let your creative juices flow, and watch the orders pour in!

2. Follow Your Passion, Not Just the Paycheck

Works taken from Karan Singh's solo exhibition

As an illustrator, it’s easy to feel grateful whenever someone appreciates your work and offers you an opportunity. However, don’t let gratitude blind you from pursuing projects that align with your true artistic vision. AOI’s Lou Bones aptly advises against saying “yes” to every client or compromising on your creative desires. Instead, find a creative environment that nurtures your growth and allows you to customize your illustrations to meet your client’s needs. Sometimes, working with smaller clients brings immense long-term benefits. Remember, as Scott Bakal wisely puts it, “Our lives shouldn’t just revolve around our clients’ work; we are artists first.” So, dare to follow your artistic instincts and pave your own path to success.

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3. Embrace Your Unique Style

O'Sullivan finds her personal style by drawing what she wants

Don’t be a follower; be a trendsetter! While it’s natural to draw inspiration from other illustrators, be cautious not to become a mere copy of someone else’s style. Lou Bones wisely warns against following trends that stifle your individuality. Instead, focus on honing your skills by exploring various subjects and drawing what truly excites you. Claudine O’Sullivan suggests taking a break from browsing famous painters and putting pen to paper. Let your imagination run wild, and soon, you’ll discover a style uniquely your own.

4. Success Knows No Boundaries

A work by Singh while at Studio Koto to promote Airbnb in Tokyo

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to relocate to a bustling metropolis to find success as an illustrator. Thanks to the connected world we live in, your talent can reach clients from all corners of the globe. Embrace the digital landscape, and let the language of your art transcend geographical boundaries. As long as you have an internet connection and speak English, opportunities will find their way to you. Just like Karan Singh, who thrived in Tokyo while working with local clients, you can create your own success story right from the comfort of your home.

5. Own Your Worth and Ask for More

A work by Bakal in OFFSET Dulin 2018

One of the most crucial lessons any aspiring illustrator should learn is to value their talent and not be afraid to ask for fair compensation. Remember, the worst that can happen is the client saying no. Scott Bakal advises simply asking, “Can you find a slightly better price?” This straightforward question has the power to increase your budget and ensure you don’t undervalue your skills. This lesson holds immense significance, especially when you’re starting out. So, own your worth, have confidence in your abilities, and watch your career soar!

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Now that you have these valuable tips in your artistic arsenal, it’s time to embark on your illustration journey with renewed vigour and determination. Remember, every stroke of your brush brings you closer to your dreams. So, sketch fearlessly, create with passion, and let your illustrations paint a captivating story.

For more inspiration and resources on illustration, visit Caravansarai. Happy illustrating!