Here at ParrotPrint, we work with all kinds of creative artwork and love to see all your illustration projects on canvas. If you love illustrating and have a particular interest in creating artwork that appeals to kids, you may have considered getting into children’s illustration professinally. But how do you turn an interest in illustration into a career as a children’s illustrator? And what kind of projects might you work on if you do? Today we’re talking about how you become a creator of imagery kids will love.
Like so many creative careers, there’s no set pathway when it comes to becoming a children’s illustrator. There are lots of options when it comes to sectors you could find yourself working in too. It helps if you have a knack for illustrating things that catch children’s eyes, know about trends and have an appreciation for what children enjoy doing, how they think and what makes them laugh
Building a portfolio to showcase your style and your work is the most important thing when it comes to getting your name out there and securing paid work. You may choose do to a formal qualification in illustration at an Art & Design college or university but this isn’t a pre-requisite. Along with learning about technique and helping you to explore your own style, completing an illustration course can help you to learn how to work to creative briefs.
Networking and building contacts can be another positive that may result from formal study. You may be able to apply for internships in industry, have the opportunity to work on live creative briefs for established companies and chances are your course tutors will have links to publications or companies or be able to pass on wisdom about how they built their own careers.
Exhibiting or contributing to exhibitions is one way to showcase your work and get your name out there, though you could also try entering illustration competitions.
Illustrating children’s books is a really cool job but it’s not the only type of job for those who want to draw and paint with kids in mind! There are of course other publications such as magazines and comics, which also need illustrations to help tell stories or to guide children in activities.
Being interiors, homewares or textile designer for the children’s market is another role you may want to consider. Can you imagine creating a beautiful illustration that ends up as a print, wallpaper or accessory on a child’s nursery or wall? How about designing imagery or children’s cloth or illustrations for packaging on kids products?
While these fields are naturally competitive, there’s lots of scope for being a children’s illustrator within a commercial setting. Finally, with so many kid’s stories told on TV screens and apps, you may decide that animation is your calling or choose to dabble in several fields across your career.
Illustrators work for publishers, right? Well, some do. Some children’s illustrators work in-house for specific publishers, while others work as freelancers or as part of creative pairings with art directors or authors. Work experience and shadowing may help you to understand how you work best.
If you do decide to go it alone as a freelancer, negotiating payment for your illustrations and royalties will be an important part of creating a stable income for yourself. Some freelancers choose to take on this role themselves, approaching potential employers directly when applying for work.
Others work with agents or agencies, which will usually match freelancers to jobs they’re approached about as well as networking and proactively trying to obtain work on your behalf. Some agencies charge a fee plus commission while others operate on a fee only basis – so it’s important to know what they’ll do for their money and how working with an agent is likely to benefit you.
Children’s textile designers and others working in product or interior design often take their work to shows where the rights to illustrations and prints can be purchased by companies who may also choose to commission the artists to do additional work.
So, what do you think? Could life as a children’s illustrator be something you’d enjoy doing? If you’re interested in illustration, we regularly share illustration news and ideas over on the ParrotPrint Canvas Facebook page.