How to Find an Illustrator: Children’s Book Guide

10 books that will help you improve your drawing skills

Drawing can be so much fun, especially when you are good at it. It might take years of practice, trial and error but nobody said it shouldn't be fun all the way! These 10 amazing books will help you to improve your skills and keep you inspired all the way. Please click on the links below the title to go to the source of each book.

Also, if you haven't seen them yet, check out our How to Get Better at Drawing series below!

I hope you find these books inspirational, if you have any other recommended books, leave us a comment below, and we will love to check them out!

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How to Become an Illustrator? Turn Your Art Passion into a Career

Starting a career as an illustrator might sound daunting, but it is completely feasible if you follow this step-by-step guide.

Drawing is a passion and skill that people of all types and ages enjoy. From digital art to sketching to illustration, drawing can take many different forms and can be a relaxing hobby or a fun skill to practice. However, not everyone with talent is a professional artist – they may doubt their skills, or simply don’t know how to transition into a job in the industry.

This blog will cover everything you need to know about illustration, as well as offer some tips that will help you succeed as an illustrator. Read on for more!

What is an Illustrator?

We’ve all seen illustrations, but how about the hand behind the drawing? What does an illustrator do, exactly? A traditional illustrator is an artist who is hired or commissioned to produce a visual representation or imagery to accompany or explain a concept or text. Illustrators work extensively with a client, discussing their illustration needs, developing samples, and eventually producing a final illustrative work.

Illustrators are typically creative, realistic, and curious. They are open and communicative and know how to follow through with clients and projects. If you are interested in working as an illustrator, there are several choices and career paths for you to consider.

10 Common Types of Illustration Jobs

We have listed the 10 most common types of illustration jobs that you can find on the market. Illustrators make illustrations, it might sound very simple and straightforward. But they require different creative skills and creative design concepts.

Product Illustrator

A product illustrator creates specific illustrations highlighting specific features of a given product. These illustrations can then be seen in advertising, packaging, websites, and more. Product illustrators are skilled in portraying products technically, accurately, and attractively. They may go hand-in-hand with branding and digital marketing teams, helping a company solidify its brand image.

These illustrators may be hired by private companies or advertising agencies contractually. They are often good at conceptualizing products and may even draw products that haven’t been created yet. Their goals may include convincing customers to buy the product or making it stand out from competitors.

Editorial Illustrator

Editorial illustrators partner with books, magazines, and newspapers to bring written words to life. They may aim to transform points in an article, accessorize an editorial piece, or complicated blocks of text into understandable editorial illustrations.

Editorial illustrators work closely with art directors for magazines to convey a message through imagery to the readers. It is a wide-ranging job, however – editorial illustrators can draw traditional illustrations, maps, collages, and more. They are typically hired by editorial or magazine companies or work as freelance illustrators.

Comic Book Illustrator

Everyone loves a good comic book. This career path is interesting and fun, thus one of the most sought-after jobs in illustration. Illustrators work with authors to produce a full illustrative work, making it a highly saturated market.

A solid experience in Illustration or art school may be required to be hired full-time, but many who are not formal illustration graduates have found success with the rise in webcomics and popular platforms for individual artists such as WEBTOON, WebComics, and more. These jobs have influenced the rise of the freelance illustrator job. Overall, comic book illustration is competitive but very enjoyable and fun!

Children’s Book Illustrator

Children’s book illustrators work closely with authors to bring a storybook to life through illustrations meant for children. They are typically colorful, thought-provoking, and interesting illustrations that provide children with the necessary visuals to understand and comprehend a story.

Children’s book illustrators may work freelance or with a publishing company, from the planning stages all the way to the final published piece. As with any book illustration job, extensive planning is required and needed for children’s book illustration.

Storyboard Illustrator

If you are very interested in working for film and animation companies or marketing agencies, a storyboard illustrator might be a good option for you.

Storyboard illustrators work by drawing illustrations for films, videos, animations, commercials, and other multimedia. These illustrators work with a team that may include an art director, filmmaker, producer, or advertiser.

Their job is to illustrate a play-by-play of the video or movie, including camera angles, character poses, and backgrounds. The storyboard is then used during planning for the final production. Portfolios are important for storyboard illustrating, and the job does require extensive teamwork, but projects are always unique.

Technical Illustrator

A technical illustrator is a broader career choice – it encompasses many fields including illustrating blueprints, graphics, diagrams, and more. They may be hired by companies to depict their products or communicate information of a technical nature. Technical illustrators must be able to draw accurate illustrations by reading and interpreting the text.

They may see their work published in manuals, instruction guides, research papers, and more. Proficiency in software like AutoCAD and MS Office is a huge plus for this job.

Medical Illustrator

Another type of technical illustrator is a medical illustrator. Though this profession is a niche, it is incredibly important. It typically requires an extensive background in scientific and medical training or a B.S. certificate in a related field – on top of illustration skills. Medical illustrators mostly produce accurate drawings of body parts to help medical professionals, researchers, and other industries.

Of these listed career paths, it is one of the least creative jobs; however, it pays well and illustrators have a responsibility to help medical professionals and the general public understand their bodies and medical options.

Fashion Illustrator

Fashion illustrators are experts in portraying clothes, accessories, and styles. It lives at the intersection of drawing, painting, and the fashion world. Fashion illustrators are typically commissioned by magazines or clothing companies for brand advertising, editorial features, or to make the buying process a bit easier for stylists.

They specialize in making clothes look appealing on paper using both realistic and abstract sketches. A portfolio is essential in the fashion industry – there are also many opportunities for traveling or attending fashion shows.

Salary of Professional Illustrators

As with any job, illustration offers levels of salaries for different skill levels. For a junior or entry-level illustrator in the United States, the average salary, according to ZipRecruiter, is $43,317 per year, about 2% more than the national average annual salary. Junior illustrators residing in California have a higher annual salary than the rest of the country. Senior illustrators, on the other hand, earn an average base salary of about $66,484 a year. Graphic designers and technical illustrators are two of the highest-paid types of senior illustrators in the U.S., with senior graphic designers earning an average annual salary of $85,907.

Part-time and freelance illustrators have a very high pay range, from as high as $94,500 to as low as $17,500 a year. This range is a result of differences in skill, background, location, and experience. The highest-paid part-time illustrator jobs are offered in New York City, with San Mateo, CA and Boston, MA close behind in second and third. Illustrator interns with less than one year of experience, on the other hand, are paid an average of $15 an hour. Interns may be just starting off in the design field and tasked with supporting an experienced team of designers and illustrators.

How to Kickstart Your Illustration Career

Getting started on a whole new career path might sound daunting and hard to achieve, but if you do your research well and structure your career plan, you can achieve your goal as an illustrator in a rather short period of time! We have broken down the plan into four essential steps:

Step One: Focus on One Area

To start, evaluate your personal skill level, including any previous training or formal educational background you’ve had in the past. This would be a good time to think about your specific illustration interests, strengths, preferred style, and more.

Then, try to narrow down your scope to a few specific jobs you want to dive into. For example, you could make a list of jobs you’re interested in, and cross off jobs until you get a smaller list. With a smaller focus, you can save a lot of time in finding the right resources and education, even as a beginner.

Step Two: Practice Your Skills and Tools

After you have decided which kind of illustration job you would like to work towards, you can start polishing your personal skillset and tools. Start by looking into your specific job and researching some common tools and software that professionals may use.

You can find this out by asking a seasoned professional in the field, looking up job requirements, or exploring the software that is out there. Common graphic design software may include Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or 3D design software, depending on the field you’re looking to go into. However, if you’re a beginner, this software might be difficult, to begin with, and/or a bit too expensive.

To begin your creative journey, you can use try beginner-friendly software like NoteLedge or Animation Desk.

Animation Desk is an amazing app to use for those interested in getting started out with animation or storyboarding. It can help you get started off and accustomed to the format of storyboards and moving images in a low-stakes environment, with easy-to-use yet comprehensive brushes, features, and interface.

NoteLedge is a note-taking app for creatives that features a great variety of brushes, themed color palettes, and the capacity to add images or video references to practice sketching. Newbies can easily navigate through the features and really focus on mastering drawing with a tablet and stylus and other digital illustration skills.

Step Three: Build a Portfolio

With many jobs, the most important item to bring with you is a resume. For illustration jobs and the art and design world, a well-done and robust portfolio is another key requirement to getting hired, sometimes even outweighing your educational background.

A portfolio is incredibly important, so take time to build it up! You can be creative with your portfolio by showcasing your best illustration projects, or any work from previous illustration gigs. Grow your art skills, carefully curate your best works, and become confident in your own artistic skills. In our digital age, you can easily build a portfolio through a website, on an Instagram or social media account, or even start a YouTube channel. Some portfolio-specific platforms are Behance, Dribbble, and ArtStation. A digital portfolio can be a way to “get noticed,” make your work visible and public online, as well as advertise yourself and your skills.

Step Four: Cultivate Your Personal Brand

You can have a perfect, glittering portfolio; but that doesn’t mean the right people will come across it. People won’t be able to discover your amazing portfolio if you’re not actively marketing it and yourself! Opportunities won’t come unless you make the first move, here are some ways to market yourself:


It’s easier than ever to meet people online. Using designer-dominated sites like Dribbble or following seasoned illustrators on Instagram are great ways to get your foot in the door, connect with some creative professionals in the industry and start building your network.

You can even branch out and go to in-person meetups and events for illustrators and connect with people there.

Apply for Jobs

Again, opportunities won’t fall at your doorstep; you need to get yourself out there. Using job search websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, Upwork, Linkedin, and more can help you get a good grasp on what companies are looking for, and aid your application process!

Always remember to include your portfolio, website, anything for interviewers to have a glimpse of your style and skills. Furthermore, these kinds of job listing websites usually have a job alert feature. Apply to your chosen illustration positions, then select the function to be notified when there are new job postings.

Make Use of Social Media

Nearly everyone is on social media nowadays. In a way, it can be easier for others to find your work via your social media channels, rather than your personal website. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have effective search features that allow users to search with keywords, hashtags, names, etc. If you play your bachelorette hashtags right and find the sweet spot for that algorithm, who knows? Your work could end up on the right person’s “Explore” page!

Tips that Help You Succeed as An Illustrator

Some additional tips to help you succeed:

Always make deadlines: The creative field is a cutthroat industry. There are many more illustrators out there, waiting to scoop up the job you may have. Making every deadline can help build up your credibility to a client, and possibly land you referrals to other clients. Either way, it’s good to be on time, showing that you value the client’s time as well as have your own pacing on the right track.

The creative field is a cutthroat industry. There are many more illustrators out there, waiting to scoop up the job you may have. Making every deadline can help build up your credibility to a client, and possibly land you referrals to other clients. Either way, it’s good to be on time, showing that you value the client’s time as well as have your own pacing on the right track. Develop your own style: It can be tempting to follow artists or illustrators you see online, but developing your own unique style of illustration is crucial. A client hires you for your work, not a copy of someone else’s style. Make sure to stay true to yourself and constantly practice your craft to hone your style.

Launching your career as an illustrator takes time and a strategic plan to achieve, but is definitely possible – even if you are a beginner or someone who is looking for a career transition. You can easily kickstart your illustration journey with beginner-friendly tools like Animation Desk or NoteLedge.

For those who already have a solid art education and training, find out your strength and niche market, there are plenty of remote or freelance illustration jobs available on the market. Next thing you know, you are paying your bills with your brushes!

How to Find an Illustrator: Children’s Book Guide

You have a great idea for a children’s book. It begs you to write it. So, you do. You know with some work, and an editor, you can get it to a place you love. But then what?

This is exactly where a lot of children’s authors get stuck. They have the words they need for their picture book… but lack the pictures. We’ll explore how to find an illustrator for your children’s book in this guide.

I get asked all the time, “How do I find a good quality, affordable artist for my book?”

This is one of my favorite questions because…

I’m excellent at finding incredible illustrators within my budget and I love living vicariously through authors I work with when they begin to see their words come to life through an illustrator’s skill. There’s nothing like it.

But this is also a piece of the publishing journey where a lot of authors make mistakes. They either settle to fit their budget, don’t have an adequate contract (or any contract at all), or don’t know what to communicate to the illustrator, leading to publishing challenges and more expenses later.

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Here’s how to find an illustrator for a children’s book:

This article will keep you from making those common mistakes. Below, we’re going to cover the potential costs of hiring an illustrator, what to look for in a children’s book illustrator, where to find high-quality, affordable illustrators, how to hire that artist, and what to do if the relationship isn’t working out.

Do you need a good book illustrator?

The beauty of a picture book is the symbiosis between the text and the art.

Neither the words nor the art should tell the story alone. They should rely on the other to tell the whole story. Therefore, hiring an illustrator is a little like a marriage.

This person will be the other half of your story forever. Most of the time, you will be the one standing behind your book, not the illustrator, and you don’t want to stand behind something you’re embarrassed about.

When looking for the right illustrator, don’t settle. You’ll be so grateful you didn’t.

How Much Does A Children’s Book Illustrator Cost?

You can expect to spend at least $500 for a book illustrator if you know where to look and how to find a good illustrator.

Sometimes that $500 has included the formatting and cover design as well. This often surprises people, and it should.

It’s low and fair price for those who are just starting out and working with a new artist who wants experience while also wanting to be paid for their work, and I’ll explain how it works and other ways I compensate the illustrator below.

Illustrating a book is a lot of work. The artist is bringing their years of experience and skill and their creativity to a story they didn’t write, hoping to both please the author and express their unique “voice” in the storytelling. You are indeed lucky to find an illustrator that is talented at a budget price.

Find an Illustrator in the Traditional Publishing Industry

In the traditional publishing industry, illustrators are usually acquired by a publisher and contracted assignments when the book acquisition team determines they’re the best fit for the current book in production.

Once an illustrator is chosen, the publisher may offer them an advance, a form of payment that will be paid off once the book begins to sell. Once the advance is paid off, the illustrator will split the royalty with the author.

Find an Illustrator in the Self-Publishing Industry

In the self-publishing industry, illustrators are a work-for-hire contractor for the author. Once an illustrator is chosen, illustrators are typically paid a flat rate.

Most of the time, royalties are not part of the agreement, though it does happen sometimes.

Currently, Print on Demand publishing options like KDP or IngramSpark do not allow for split-royalties within their platforms, meaning that for an author to offer royalties to an illustrator, they need to keep careful financial records and honor their commitment to the illustrator. For this reason, most authors and illustrators just agree to a flat rate.

You’ll find quite a variety of pricing among illustrators. To find an illustrator that is more seasoned, experienced, and published an illustrator is, the higher they will charge for their work. For example, I’ve seen illustrators in this caliber charge anywhere from $3000-$12,000.

Likewise, if an illustrator is just getting started or has zero to a couple of books published, they will likely be less expensive. Another factor in pricing can be geography: if an illustrator lives in Easter Europe versus North America, and you’re paying in the US dollar, your payment will go a lot further for that person.

My personal favorite process is to use a platform like and post a job. I include every important detail in my posting, including the number of pages, timeframe, synopsis of the book, and what I’m looking for in an illustrator. I also set my budget.

This is how I attract the right person rather than need to search and find an illustrator. Having them discover your posting is a much higher leverage way of starting the conversation—and you’re attracting a person who agrees with your posting, the pay, and what this includes.

Interested illustrators apply for my job and I sift through their offers. Illustrators can bid higher or lower than the listed budget price, based on the specifications of the project in my ad. I find an illustrator whose style I love, within my budget, and I hire them. It’s that simple.

Now, having been in the industry for a long time, and having many illustrator friends, I know that starting at $500 as a new illustrator looking to grow a portfolio of experience is not a lot of money. I also know how much hustle it takes to sell a children’s book, and how long it will take me to “pay off” the cost of my illustrator in book sales.

Because of this, I find other ways to “surprise and delight” my illustrator by supplementing their payoff.

Here’s my compensation plan for supplementing my illustrator’s fee:

I offer my illustrator the option of buying books at a wholesale cost. This means that I’m willing to send them books directly from KDP or IngramSpark at my author cost, for them to sell for profit. We work out the details of the money exchange, and they can host or attend their own live events and showcase our book. This is money for them, and more marketing for our book.

I send my illustrators a hardback and paperback copy of our book once it’s done. I don’t tell them I’m going to do this, it’s a surprise. They can use this in their portfolio or just put it on their shelf like the accomplishment it is!

I allow them to use images or pages from our book in their art portfolio.

I promote them all throughout the book. I include them on the cover, on the title page, in the copyright information, on the dedication page, and an About the Illustrator page at the back of the book.

I talk about them everywhere I go. When I do an author visit in a school, library, or bookstore, I brag about them as if they’re my best friend (and after a book project together, I often feel like they are!) This brings awareness and new fans to my illustrator.

I recommend them to every author I think would be a good fit, bringing them more work and recognition.

This has been such a successful approach, that many of my illustrators are now living professionally full-time on their art! My first illustrator lived in Romania. This was her first illustrated, published book. She did amazing, as you can see. I promoted the heck out of her using the bullet points above.

When I was ready for the sequel a few years later, she had illustrated so many of my clients’ books, that her fee had increased from $500/project to $3500/project and she had moved to London! I am so proud of her!

Another value of working with beginning artists this way is knowing that I got to be part of developing someone’s skill and career to an actual livable wage.

Action Step: Determine your budget and compensation plan

What To Look For In A Children’s Book Illustrator

Like I said above, hiring an illustrator is a little like a marriage commitment—it’s for the life of your book. Here are some steps to follow when looking for an illustrator.

#1 – Know Your Book Details

When hiring your illustrator, make sure you know the specifics of your book first. This will guide you in what you need. For example, you want to know

The size of your print book: 8.5×8.5? 8×10? 6×9?

The number of pages or illustrations you’ll need. Do you want artwork on the title page or dedication page or elsewhere? Include that in the count.

Where you want to publish: KDP, IngramSpark, LuLu, a Novelty Press, etc.

The formats you want to publish: Hardback, Paperback, ebook, etc.

The timeframe within which you want the book completed, as this will impact your publishing date

Your budget: what’s the maximum amount you’re willing or able to pay?

#2 – Know Your Style Preference

Do research! Find art styles you love in other books or portfolios. Keep a list of the illustrators who stand out to you. Ask yourself what you love about those styles so you can be clear in what you’re looking for in your own illustrator.

Is it a color palette you’re drawn to? How realistic versus cartoony the artwork?

A live medium (like watercolor or pen and ink) versus digital art? Individual style?

#3 – Know Their Offer

By offer, I don’t just mean the financial compensation they’re willing to work for. I mean, what do they bring to the table?

Here are some questions to ask and find the answers to when trying to find an illustrator:

Have they illustrated a published book before?

What tools do they use?

Can they format the book for publishing?

Can they design and create a formatted cover?

Are they responsive to your communication in a timely and clear manner?

Are they teachable?

Do they work well within deadlines?

Has their overall artwork been appropriate for children?

Are they an artist or an illustrator? These are not the same. Make sure they understand children’s book illustration (and the dynamics and differences from normal “art.”)

You can learn this about your potential illustrator by reading any available reviews, perusing their social media accounts and portfolios, searching their name on Amazon (or Google), and asking them follow-up questions to their application.

I sneak a code word into the bottom of my job posting, asking interested applicants to start their application with the code word. This right away tells me if a prospective illustrator read the full application or not before applying.

When an artist with potential doesn’t use the code word, I kindly bring it up and ask if this is what I should expect if we work together, just to set a clear boundary from the start.

Action Step: Make a list of your book details and style preferences.

Free Video Training Reveals… How to Write & Publish a Children’s Book Step-By-Step Learn how to tell a story kids love, parents can’t wait to buy, and teachers want in class—and publish it successfully! Please select... CHOOSE A TIME YES! ACCESS THE TRAINING! Share Pin 5 5 Shares

Where To Find Children’s Book illustrators

There are many great places to find illustrators. I’ve already mentioned my favorite, but there are a variety of other places. Below is just a sampling to get you started.

One perk of being a Children’s Book School student with Self Publishing School is that we include a list of recommended partners for every author! With special deals and access, plus tried, tested, and loved illustrators, our authors have a head start on finding the best fit illustrator.

We also have all of the templates needed for posting a job, following up, and hiring an illustrator.

Action Step: Using the links above, make a list of illustrators (and where you found them/how to contact them) to being your reach out.

How To Hire An Illustrator

Whatever platform you choose for hiring an illustrator, make sure you have a good contract with the agreed-upon terms and conditions.

We have a template for this in Children’s Book School.

The contract for your illustrator should define:

Roles of everyone involved Compensation The nature of the Independent Contractor Relationship The ownership and rights of the artwork Deadlines Revision policy Deliverables Communication policy Credit of the work Governing law Severability Failure to Deliver clause Termination or cancellation Non Disclosure

Action Step: Choose your illustrator and send them a good contract to sign before money is exchanged or work is begun.

What If Your Illustrator is Not Working Out?

Most of the time, this relationship is like magic. Both the author and illustrator are highly fulfilled, satisfied, and proud of their teamwork.

But every now and then, no matter how well you planned and prepared, the relationship isn’t a good fit. I’ve coached a handful of writers through deciding how to respond to a poor-fit illustrator relationship.

Two things are always my priority in these situations.

The author is proud of (and not embarrassed by) the finished product The illustrator as a person and professional and their career and skill development opportunity

If it’s determined that an illustrator just isn’t providing the agreed-upon quality of work, you have to kindly let them go. One of my students really struggled with this.

She felt bad because her artist was really trying to provide good illustrations but just didn’t have the skill she’d promised. My student was torn between settling on less-than art for her book to not disappoint or hurt the artist, or let her go.

By the end of our conversation, this student (who had an entire series of books planned) decided to let her illustrator go. She did it lovingly and they parted ways on good terms and fairly (falling on the details of their contract for guidance).

My student immediately found another artist who was absolutely the best fit. He did the entire series in record speed with the level of quality my student wanted. She was so glad later that she didn’t settle on the artwork, even though it meant an uncomfortable conversation and possible delay in the timeframe.

Here’s the thing—it might feel good to settle on disappointing art in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or letting them go. But the reality is, this isn’t loving at all.

As we partner with people in career and personal development, we need to be lovingly honest. If that artist is going to grow in their career, they have to know the scope of their skill. They have to be willing to learn and grow and invest themselves. But if no one will be honest with them, how will they know? When we withhold our feedback out of fear, we actually cause more harm and potentially delay their career growth. Now notice, I’m saying “kindly” and “lovingly” in our honesty. Build them up and encourage them, even as you acknowledge that they aren’t the best fit for your project like you’d both hoped.

And remember, just because they’re struggling, doesn’t mean you have to let them go. Are they coachable? Willing to learn? Quick to apply your suggestions? Then this also is an opportunity for them to gain skills and experience with your book, as long as you are proud of the art in the end.

Action Step: If the partnership is struggling, determine whether you need to let them go as your illustrator, or if there’s coachability and potential to love your book at the completion of your partnership.

Are You Ready to Find Your Illustrator? Get Started Today!

You’ve got everything you need to get started! An idea on how to budget and offer fair compensation, what to look for in an illustrator, where to find them, how to hire them, and what to do if it’s not a good fit partnership. If you follow the action steps, you’ll be way ahead of other authors trying to find an artist.

If you’re looking to publish a children’s picture book, we’d love to help. We have a whole community of authors, just like you, investing in their stories to get them into the hands of kids. We can change the world through our children by bringing them good stories!

We can help you get your book in the hands of kids asap – but only if you take action now.

Free Video Training Reveals… How to Write & Publish a Children’s Book Step-By-Step Learn how to tell a story kids love, parents can’t wait to buy, and teachers want in class—and publish it successfully! Please select... CHOOSE A TIME YES! ACCESS THE TRAINING! Share Pin 5 5 Shares

Have you hired an illustrator before? What was your main takeaway from the experience? Drop it down below so we can all benefit from them!

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