Set illustration is the use of creativity to communicate an idea, story or message to an audience. Set illustrators are the professionals behind this activity. If you are a creative person with a high level of visual awareness, you can pursue a successful career as a set illustrator.
1. What Do Set Illustrators Do?
Their duties include:
- Discussing the requirements of an illustration with clients, authors or editors – Examples of projects include creating storyboards for films or television, designing video game sets and creating pictures for guidebooks
- Negotiating prices or project costs with clients
- Drawing sketches of an illustration and presenting to clients for approval
- Using computer design programs or drawing skills to create the final illustration
- Scanning hand drawn illustrations and converting them into various digital formats
- Ensuring projects are completed within the required timeframe
2. Work Environment
Many set illustrators have flexible work schedules since they often work on a freelance basis. Generally though, they work for about 40 hours a week. When projects have tight deadlines, they can put in more hours.
When set illustrators are not in their offices or studios creating illustrations, they can be found visiting clients to discuss project requirements.
According to Indeed, set illustrators in the US earn an average annual salary of $51,000.
4. Entry Requirements
Although there are not set educational requirements for becoming a set illustrator, many of them have a bachelor of fine arts in illustration. As such, pursuing this degree will sharpen your skills and help you stand out from the crowd. You will learn concepts such as pattern and surface design, life drawing, advertising illustration, comics and graphic illustration, motion graphics and gallery art.
Some of the institutions offering this programs include:
- The New School, New York
- Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia
- Maryland Institute of College Art, Maryland
Throughout college, you will have countless opportunities to create illustrations. Be sure to maintain your work properly, since you will need to create an illustration portfolio after graduating. Portfolios make it easy for you to present your work to potential employers or clients.
5. Important Qualities
To be a sought-after set illustrator, you need:
- Visual awareness
- Strong drawing skills
- Strong artistic skills
- Creativity and imagination
- Technical ability
- Good communication skills
- Business skills
- Good manual dexterity
- A keen attention to detail
- Computer skills and internet proficiency
- Good presentation skills
6. Career Advancement
After getting started as a set illustrator, it is important to focus on delivering high-quality illustrations. If you can do this, you will not face any challenges finding regular gigs.
As your work portfolio gains strength, you can pursue additional courses, such as graduate certificate programs in illustration, to broaden your knowledge and enhance your skills.
If you are ambitious enough, you could pursue an MFA in illustration.
7. Job Opportunities
Although many set illustrators are self-employed, you can find fulltime jobs in:
- Advertising agencies
- Illustration studios
- Companies that publish books and magazines
- Art galleries
Experienced set illustrators often progress to run their own profitable illustration studios. Those in formal employment can advance to become lead set illustrators. With an MFA, you can secure teaching jobs in art colleges.
See Also: The Power of Art
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 3 percent job growth (slower than average) for all fine artists, it does note that demand for illustrators, especially those who work on computers, will keep rising through 2022.
So if you are imaginative and creative, and you possess artistic skills, you could become a competent set illustrator.