How to Become an Illustrator Without a Degree (in 7 Steps)

You love illustration, do it for fun, and are really good at it.  Can you make it a career without going to college for it? Can you become an illustrator without a degree?

Typically, illustration just like any other art is an inherent skill. In as much as most artists go to school to nature their talents, other great artists have never seen the door of a class. This is to say that you will be judged with the quality of your art and not the qualification papers attached to support your abilities.

The short fascinating answer to our million-dollar question is, yes, you can become an illustrator without a degree. If you are a gifted illustrator without a degree to back you up, it is very possible to make use of your inherent skills. We’ve put together a list of ways on how you can become an illustrator without a degree.

Scroll down the page to find out all you need to know.

1.    Build an Impressive Portfolio

Being a freelance illustrator is both a rewarding and well-paying career. But that is only if you go at it with an open mind. Besides that, it can take some time to become successful in this field but there is always a flip side to everything. Instead of losing heart, take the time to build a compelling portfolio for yourself.

Especially if you are going the freelance way. Make good use of websites and platforms that are willing to showcase your work and possibly connect you with sustainable clients. Some of the sites you can use include WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace. With all these in place, it would be easy to curate an impressive portfolio.

2.    Position Yourself at the Marketplace

Once you have put all your portfolio in place, position yourself in the marketplace. This will enable you to meet potential employers and contractors. Illustration sites are a good place to begin your join.

In as much as you are likely to interact with potential clients, you ought to realize that the competition is intense. You are not the only freelance illustrator hunting for clients therefore you should put your best foot forward. Be relentless as most well-paying clients are always looking for value for their money.

3.    Make Good Use of Social Media

Not everybody likes social media but as it turns out, it is one of the best places to position yourself as a freelancer. In as much as this place is saturated with all manner of people and activities, you might not like; it has its silver lining.

Places like Facebook, Twitter, and most importantly Instagram are vast gold mines. Once you post your finest art on any of the pages, clients shall voluntarily come to you. Position yourself well that you would be hard not to catch a good eye.

4.    Scrutinize the Job Scope

With your portfolio in order and a good position in the right marketplace, it is so hard not to get invites and job proposals from potential clients. That is good progress. However, you might need to be extra careful at this stage especially if you have been trying to shop for gigs for a long time.

Don’t let despair overshadow you to jump into anything that first presents itself. Instead, take your sweet time to scrutinize every offer that comes your way. And above all, understand what it entails. Does the offer meet your work standards, or do you have to compromise? Does it infringe on your rights as an illustrator?

5.    Forge Good Working Relationships

Loyalty is the key in freelancing but delivering pure gold is even much better. By this time, you have probably received dozens of offers because of your packaging. But that still is not enough, the real work is yet to come.

If you are reliable and efficient, your clients will always want to rehire you. Some will even go out of their way to give you referrals and recommendations. But all that depends on how you build your relationships with them. If a referral sends you an offer, always be sure to pitch creatively. Always strive to be clients’ score point. The missing puzzle they were shopping for in the marketplace.

6.    Practice After-Contract Service

It won’t hurt to go out of your way to do a thing or two for a great client. Even long after the contract has expired. Treating them well will not only help them leave you great testimonials, but it will also compel them to rehire you whenever there is more work at their desks.

These small little gestures are way more than asking them for referrals and good reviews. A satisfied client will forever feel indebted to you. But this is not to say asking is being out of the line. On the contrary, that is one of the best ways to cast your net deeper.

7.      Financial Wisdom is Key

Now that jobs are flowing and you are receiving lifetime testimonials, don’t be tempted to think that you are at the peak yet. The journey has begun. You need sustainability and security. With freelancing, nothing is ever promised. To cushion yourself against any eventualities, always strive to make wise financial decisions.

Be consistent in managing your accounts and be careful not to recklessly spend. If possible, always seek to expand your networks so as to have extra cash flows even where one or two fails. Keep a comprehensive report of your income against the expenses.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly does an illustrator do?

An illustrator is someone who creates images or drawing for any print media. Some of these print media include books, magazines, graphics, among many others. However, there is a lot more involved.

What does illustration mean in a book?

An illustration in a book is a drawing or an image used to make the story easy to understand. The illustration is also meant to entertain and add life to plain text among other things.

What is the main difference between illustration and graphic design?

The main difference between illustration and graphic design is in how and where the images are conveyed. The graphic design falls under fine art. On the other hand, graphic design is more commercial.

Do illustrators use digital software?

Fine art is naturally meant to be purely handiwork. However, with computers and digital migration, it has become extremely hard to keep it unadulterated.