What to do with an illustrator?


Well-Known Member
My little sister has hit a dead end (but wont admit it). She studied performing arts at uni so as you'd expect has no career prospects! She's now grasping at straws and thinks that doing a makeup artistry course is a good idea! I know shes capable of more and that she'll do the course and be no happier but £10k worse off!

The truth is, she is an amazing illustrative artist! like really really good but thinks that there's no future in it because shes not trained. Is there anyone out there who can offer any words of advice or who can just help convince her that she should use her real talents!

Shes currently living in potters bar but is young free and single so is available nationwide!

Some of her work (these are all hand painted):




I'm sure that if she could present her portfolio to employers she would stand a good chance of getting somewhere without necessarily having the qualifications, particularly for a more junior role perhaps.

Perhaps she could even look to set up as a freelance illustrator too, even if it was in addition to something else also?
Agreed.... setting up freelance would be the best idea.... maybe even selling one of a kind canvases?

Though.... maybe not dismiss the make up artistry altogether.... It can be quite a lucrative business, I know I was charged £25 recently just to have my eye-make up done....
There would also be wedding make up.... Bride, mother of the bride, bridesmaids....

She could do both for the time being and go with whichever one takes off the most :)

(sorry if none of this makes sense, but have been on the sauce for a few hours!)
She's really good, to start at least set up a website showcasing her work, if she can get some work in on a part time basis who knows where it may lead in the future.
WOW she is good! Her work is varied which is an asset to her.

My advice would be to do as the others have said is to go freelance with a portfolio website that showcases her talents. I am all for illustrators I think they make some of the best Graphic Designers as their work is always so tactile.

Whilst I can see the benefit in her doing a makeup course I think everyone has jumped on this band wagon and it is becoming harder and harder to make ends meet in this field however, illustrations (especially good hand drawer ones) are becoming harder to find.

I would suggest she send some of her work to the greetings card industry they employ hundreds of freelance illustrators every year. They love to get variety and will also buy one off pieces for fair prices! I would also send some of her work into computer arts in their exposure section.

Hope that helps? Its a shame to waste a talent....:icon_biggrin:
Are these from her own head or does she tend to use photos etc to go off? I thought I'd seen the last one somewhere before you see (Stock Photos | Shutterstock: Royalty-Free Subscription Stock Photography & Vector Art) and the lady gaga one i assume is from a photo, so i would just be aware that although she is obviously very talented, these things could be spotted by potential employees so it would be in her best interests to come up with some properly original stuff - not that I'm saying shes even seen the shutterstock thing, just that, well, its good to be aware of whats already out there.

Speaking of sites like shutterstock, if she knows how to use illustrator there may be some money in stock photography websites - i have an illustrator friend who gets about $600 a month from those!
The majority of work shes produced so far have been done for friends and shes normally supplied with a series of photos to work from.

I can see where youre coming from in that the linked image and the last image in the OP share a similar style and subject but I very much doubt any IP infringement could ever be claimed.
It's a tough decision here, especially when there's £10K involved you have to look at the potential for earning and surviving in the future. The illlustration industry is cut-throat, probably more so than the beauty industry and its often the case that illustrators also have some kind of second job, e.g. I do graphic design and others I know do the same or work in printers, photography studio's...etc.

If she could get a website up and running with examples this would help her a great deal, she'd also be good to get some kind of work experience somewhere creative, be it a small studio or even a print firm. A lot of people will commission illustrators they know so it's either get to know a lot of people who need illustration and get work in the regular circle or be outstanding and get work from complete strangers.

If she can illustrate celebrities and bands...etc this would be a very smart move, its a sure-fire way into editorial and the Lady Gaga piece is the one that stands out in the collection shown. With her mixture of styles she'd do well to combine these in the same manner as Johanna Basford, Maja Sten or more importantly Deanne Cheuk - see www.deannecheuk.com

It's important to realise how to differenciate people who like to look at 'pictures' and people who pay for illustration because they realise its value. Friends and family will always look at work in a seperate light to those who have to pay for it so it's wise to remember this right from the start and find the balance between your style and the content the customer wants as no work = no money = lots of surviving on beans on toast :icon_crying:

If she needs any help I'd be happy to advise further, I'm completely self-taught and was in the same position about 6 years ago. You can view my work at Onesidezero . News and find contact details there too.

Cheers, Brett
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Hi Dave,

I teach at a College and my specialism is to ready 3rd year degree students to prepare for entry into the industry as designers (Illustrators).
How old is your sister? She might benefit from formal training, but as you say, a student loan always bites in he end. I would suggest she puts a digital portfolio of work together, join something like BEHANCE .com and upload there and see if any reaction.

But, another route is to check out maybe 10 Illustrator's Agents and ask for a meeting and a review of her Portfolio.
This will give her feedback that can be worked on. As long as she demonstrates an 'want' to become an illustrator,I
think she has an embryonic ability. Again, as long as she is positive when discussing her work and not showing any
negatives ie: I am not happy with this piece...why put it in the portfolio? If you understand my methods.

Good luck

John Watters