Design and Illustration

Design and illustration careers begin with a portfolio of client-based or self-inspired work that displays your talent, style, and creative thinking. While there are full-time positions in the field of design, there are fewer full-time opportunities for illustrators. For this reason, many illustrators work as designers and illustration is a part of their job.

Careers in Design

Depending on the business context and stage of career, designers can find themselves with a number of different job titles. Within many publications, institutions, or agencies, a junior designer will typically rise to a senior designer, then art director, and then creative director. Depending on the industry served or the medium, the junior designer may be called a graphic designer, UI/UX designer, visual designer, motion designer, digital designer, web designer, animator, production artist, or graphic artist. For advice on how to find an entry-level position, please see How to Find your First Job.

At the mid-level, the title may be more specific: information designer, interaction designer, product designer, environmental graphics designer, information architect, package designer, exhibition designer, experience designer, or content strategist.

At the executive level, designers occupy positions such as owner/founder, executive creative director, head of design, or chief creative officer.

Then there are those who work with designers in related positions like production coordinators, front-end developers, marketing coordinators, project managers, producers, strategists, and copywriters. There are no centralized definitions or certifications for these titles, so they’re constantly evolving, and the more rapidly changing the industry in which the designer works, the more rapidly titles and definitions will change. Scale plays a part, too; the more designers on a team or in a company, the more the number of distinct titles will multiply.  Source


Careers in Illustration

Illustrators’ work appears in books, magazines, papers and television ads. They illustrate posters, calendars, greeting cards, and comic books. They draw pictures for soup cans labels and cereal boxes. They illustrate catalogs, technical manuals, and medical texts. They draw for children’s storybooks and school history books.

Because almost 85% of illustrators work freelance it is in the best interest of the illustrator to know their audience, how to market, and have a good sense of business, contracts, pricing and intellectual law.

Editorial Illustrators: Generally, this is freelance work. The artist illustrates magazine-and newspaper articles as well as advertisements. The art director and the illustrator decide which important point in the copy should be illustrated. The illustrator then executes a drawing, painting, or collage in a unique personal style to illustrate the focal point of the copy.

Product Illustrator: Most often this is freelance work. The artist usually works with advertising agencies. In order to create a finished drawing or painting of a product, precision, drafting ability, and the capacity to render varied materials realistically are required.

Storyboard Illustrator: This illustrator may be employed in large ad agencies or may work free-lance. Taking the agency Art Director’s roughs, he develops finished drawings for presentation of a potential TV commercial or industrial film to a client. This series of drawings, which illustrates the progress of the action, is called a storyboard. The appropriate dialogue is typed underneath each drawing. This gives the client an idea of how a film might look before the client undertakes the expense of production. This technique can also be used to illustrate a potential TV pilot. Since multiple drawings must be produced within a short period of time, the artist must work rapidly and carefully, using economy of means to suggest detail.

Cartooning: This field of illustration is familiar to everyone. There are as many variations in style as there are cartoonists. Each has a unique humorous or dramatic point of view and the ability to illustrate it in a direct and economical pen and ink technique. In most cases, the ability to write is essential. The cartoonist may do spot drawings or gag or satirical cartoons on a freelance basis. He may have a staff job for a publication, or he may be syndicated as a comic strip artist or political cartoonist. In any case, the ability to sustain a high level of humor or drama over a long period of time is vital.

Caricature: The Caricaturist is primarily a freelance artist who works for newspapers and magazines, but he may also be called upon to illustrate advertising. While similar to the cartoonist in skill, the caricaturist also has a special ability to emphasize facial and body features in a drawing in order to create a comic but completely recognizable drawing of a particular individual.

Animation: The animator has grown in popularity with the tremendous burgeoning of the television medium, and there are many companies who produce for advertising agencies. Another area, which we know well, is in movies dealing, specifically with cartoon. There has been a new growth in the use of animation in full-length features, as well as the continuing use of the cartoon material.

Fashion Illustrators: Fashion Illustrators are among others who work only in one subject. They draw models wearing the latest fashions. They also do accessories such as gloves, handbags, and hats. Their artwork appears in catalogs, newspapers, magazines, and television commercials. Most are free-lancers. Others are staff members of clothing manufacturers, fashion designers, mail-order firms, or department stores.

Freelance Illustrators: Freelance illustrators may do many kinds of artwork or they may produce only one kind. Most illustrators do not start in staff positions doing illustrations. Many begin freelance work right after graduation. Some may get staff jobs in related fields as they build up their portfolios. As a rule, illustrators work for many clients, instead of one company. They line up jobs and plan their work so that they will be busy but not rushed. Some artists call on art directors, show samples of their work, and get assignments. Other artists hire agents (called reps) to get work for them. Well-known freelance illustrators have clients who come to them. Freelancing is the aim of many illustrators. This work lets them do the kind of illustrations they like best and allows them to schedule their own workload. Many of them travel or do assignments by mail. They may develop a unique style and do only one kind of illustration such as animals, children, home furnishings, or fashions. Freelancers do all the tasks of an assignment. They get the job, buy supplies, hire models, do the project (from rough sketch to finished illustration), and deliver it. Some have aides who fill in color or background, add lettering, or do other tasks. Some freelancers have agents who acquire jobs for them to do.

Technical Illustrators: Technical illustrators, who do most of their work in black and white, also use drafting tools and machines. Their work may consist of layouts showing how to install equipment, diagrams for wiring, or perspective and cutaway views of machines. They study blueprints, models, engineers’ drawings, and equipment to make sketches. They often use computer-aided design techniques.

Medical Illustrators: Medical illustration is used in textbooks, magazines, charts, and advertising directed to the medical profession. This work demands both a scientific and an artistic knowledge of anatomy. Precise and accurate draftsmanship combined with a realistic style is necessary.

Mural Designers: The primary application for the mural is in hotels, restaurants, and residences. One must have the ability to emulate various artistic styles. Excellent painting technique is required. One should approach this field with an education in fine art and art history. Muralists can work for an interior designer.

There are many opportunities for jobs in illustration. As an illustrator, you may find employment with magazines, periodicals, book and software publishers, manufacturers, or working with various types of electronic media. There are also opportunities in the motion picture and video industries, and computer game design industry as well. Or you may decide to be a self-employed, freelance illustrator, and do work in several of these industries on a contract basis.  Source

See also: “The Most Important Design Jobs of the Future”


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Professional Organizations