How competitive is the Illustration field?

20-ish years ago, I graduated with a fine art degree and became an art teacher, but now (for reasons I don’t particularly want to go into here), I no longer wish to teach. Ideally, I would like to break into the illustration profession, but don’t know how realistic this is.

I realise that, first and foremost, it is necessary to build a portfolio, but beyond this, things get rather vague. I have read various articles on the subject, and most tend to say something along the lines of what Emma Block says here:

There is no standard career path to becoming an illustrator. To be honest, it’s a bit of a weird career … I can’t tell you how to become a successful freelance illustrator, but I can tell you what I’ve learnt so far.

Needless to say, there are many questions left unaswered, the most crucial of all being, is it worth it? I realise that only I can answer this, but I would like to be a little better informed before I make my decision.

There are some branches of illustration that don’t interest me (infographics, technical drawing, etc.). I lean more towards children’s / book / editorial illustration. However, the publishing industry has clearly been in decline since the digital revolution, and will continue to be. How has that affected these areas of illustration in terms of competition / career sustainability? Comparatively, how competitive is this field?


Keep in mind that your offering is changing to a product from a service that you performed for a fee. There is a different mindset that accompanies each.

It’s nice that you have an initial interest; but, demand will probably determine your specialty. I specialize in the needs of the wealthy.

Continue doing what you can to augment your income while you plan your escape.

Use a business plan template to help you discover and explore the commercial aspects of your skills and specialized interests. A business plan can help you identify income opportunities best suited to you from among many. Find out what you already have, need, and what you must do to comply with the Best Practices shared among your successful colleagues. You must commit yourself to writing. At this point, it is not enough to be aware of the things you will do. A plan has deadlines and measurable goals to keep you on track. A structured plan has the detail you’ll need while you look at the big picture. This cannot be minimized.

Something like’s “Plan A” generic business and marketing template software will, by filling-in the blanks, become uniquely yours. Its products are used by some business schools, colleges, and universities. Disclaimer: I bought ‘em years ago, use ‘em, and swear by ‘em still.

Things you need for business will be in your business plan. So too, will be the case with your Marketing Plan. Its function is to help you figure out how and where to sell your fish.

Start by telling friends and relatives that you need their help spreading the word about your miracle. They will be your best representatives.

When you don’t promote yourself, a terrible thing happens—Nothing.

You will need business skills to run your business. You will be interacting with bureaucracy. Small enterprises must operate according to local business practices. Start a part-time course in bookkeeping essentials and operating a small business. Don’t read a book. Force yourself into accepting exercises, quizzes and tests.

Even if you hire professionals to perform skills for you, minimum knowledge is needed to judge whether their performance is to some standard in your benefit.

Getting an agent may or may not be a great idea. Avoid agreements that will lock you into exclusive arrangements. Allow yourself to work on projects of your choosing in addition to what your agent brings to you.

Disclaimer: Graphic Designer, Montreal Canada

Source : Link , Question Author : martin , Answer Author : Stan

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