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Getting started in the illustration industry

Discussion in 'Illustration Forum:' started by AliCat, Jun 25, 2014.

  1. AliCat

    AliCat New Member

    Hello to everyone here, I'm a new member, just 17 and currently studying graphics and illustration at college.
    I'm not sure if this is the correct area to post this thread but I'll do it anyway.. apologies if it's not the right place.

    I only have a year left at college now and I'm really not sure if I want to go off to university, not immediately anyway.. I'm wondering if it's possible to get going as an illustrator without having attended university? If I was to contact an illustration agency about getting involved with them, would they just turn me down purely because I haven't gone to university?

    Everyone just seems so ready to go to uni immediately, but the thought to me is a little daunting. I don't want to rush anything and get myself into a debt I might struggle to pay off. Art is a competitive industry, I know, so I'd like to know if it's possible to dive into it without diving into debt at the same time..

    Any advice or guidance will be greatly appreciated! Thank you for taking the time to read. :icon_smile:
     
  2. VLAHAKISA

    VLAHAKISA Member

    Illustration agencies are only interested in talent, they don't care about your qualifications. To gain entry to an agency you will have to be an exceptionally skilled illustrator with a unique and interesting style. They only accept the very best.

    I manage to acquire work as an illustrator by myself without needing an agency to find that work for me and have been doing so for over 12 years - most of my work that puts food on the table is bog standard graphic design ... but I do a small portion of illustrative works each year also. In addition I sell my illustrations on a range of products, I started launching that about two years ago and it's had a slow start but is 'getting there' in terms of becoming profitable.

    I submitted works to a good 20 agencies but have been turned down by all. You can view a small selection of my works at Low Cost Illustration Service and Illustration And Surface Pattern Design to see what sort of standard I am at.

    As an artist ... talent, hard work (including a good working attitude with clients) and a great portfolio are what will get you the work, not qualifications.

    Best of luck, whatever you choose to do.

    Amanda
     
    AliCat and Stationery Direct like this.
  3. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

    Nothing really to add - except nice work there Amanda!
     
  4. Wardy

    Wardy Active Member

    It will be very difficult for you to start from scratch as a freelancer (graphics or illustration) straight from college. It's all about experience and your portfolio. Unless you offer something unique, as Amanda says.
    Apart from the degree that you will end up with, you will also have gained that extra knowledge and experience. During that time you could also pick up a few freelance jobs along the way, and hopefully
    a few contacts for when you leave uni.
     
    AliCat likes this.
  5. AliCat

    AliCat New Member

    Thank you for your detailed and very helpful reply, I appreciate it! I'll keep practicing my work and try to build a unique style and a large, ranged portfolio..
    Could I ask how it is you acquire your own work? Do you have to approach companies straight off or is it better to wait until they call for an artist to help them with a project?
    Good luck with your product illustration, I really like the foxes, birds and bunnies :)
    Thank you again for giving me an idea of what agencies are looking for.
     
  6. AliCat

    AliCat New Member

    I'm just really nervous about the debt. Family has been discouraging me from going to university, at least not immediately. They want me to try another way first.. I suppose I can try without university but if all my efforts don't seem to work I'll go from there. Thank you for your response!
     
  7. Jr-illustrator

    Jr-illustrator New Member

    sorry for reopening an old thread :/

    but I've just finished university and am struggling to understand how do you actually apply for illustration work ? I'm just researched potential clients, about to send out some samples of work and email art directors. is that the right approach to take ? because other then that I'm not entirely sure how get illustration work. In the main my work is editorial ( current affairs) in its nature, but my style of work could work in book covers. any advice would be appreciated :)
     
  8. Wardy

    Wardy Active Member

    This is the million dollar question, and you won't find many people giving up their 'secrets' about how to find work I'm afraid, as we're all in the same boat! :)

    However, you are certainly starting the right way by targeting the right people in the right departments. Make sure you have a decent portfolio put together, ie quality
    and not quantity, and do lots of research and cold calling/emailing/networking etc. Good luck!
     
  9. Jr-illustrator

    Jr-illustrator New Member

    thankyou for the reply and advice :)

    I understand there isn't a right answer, I'm just feeling a bit lost at the minute and just want to get that first professional job. This is my website btw.
     
  10. Wardy

    Wardy Active Member

    You have a nice style developing there, Jordan. I can see that kind of thing working in certain magazines/newspapers etc.
     
  11. Jr-illustrator

    Jr-illustrator New Member

    thats the aim hopefully. Thanks for the kinds words friend.
     
  12. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    It's good that you have a defined style especially if you want to work in editorial.
    Publishers and agents like this as they know what they are going to get as it's safe.

    You seem to be doing the right thing but it can tale a l-o-n-g time to build up a client base so be prepared to keep plugging and don't be put off.
    Good luck with it.
    The world needs more Illustrators as we're a lot better than normal people. ;)
     
  13. Jr-illustrator

    Jr-illustrator New Member

    i agree we are better ;)

    yea i understand patience to be very important when it comes to being an illustrator. thanks for the advice :)
     
  14. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    This may sound like an odd suggestion, but you can even contract graphic designers, you'll be surprised how many of us can use the skill of an illustrator. More often than not, their drawing skills are far superior to ours, and we can get more illustrative related briefs from time to time, like children's book cover designs for example.
     
    scotty likes this.
  15. Jr-illustrator

    Jr-illustrator New Member

    I hadnt really considered that. I guess i think my work is too illustration based, but i know that illustration and graphics have lots of similarities.
     
  16. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    This is actually very true and a good point.
    Thinking about it, most of the people I do work with/for are designers themselves in some way or another.
     

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