People often confuse artists and illustrators. Both make a living from selling their art: fine artists sell art in an gallery, while illustrators sell art as a service to clients. Illustrators apply their art skills on solving creative problems, and that's called applied art.
The beautiful thing about applied art is, instead of creating art purely for personal expression, you create art to help others achieve a bigger project, such a movie, a book, or a video game. Before I enter the industry, I never knew illustration is needed in so many areas. So in this post I will share with you the types of work illustrators can do (as far as I know):
Probably the most well known job type, books can vary from children's books, textbooks, teen novels, adult fiction and non-fiction books. Each type of books requires specific skill sets, so illustrators usually focus on a certain type of book. (I draw mostly children's books.)
Newspapers and magazines, whether printed or electronic, require illustrations on a regular basis. Some are about illustrating a concept on current news and topics, and this type of illustration usually has higher creative freedom.
We see ads everywhere! Companies use art to sell all kinds of stuff, including products, food, games, services, events and basically anything you can think of.
This should be the most popular corner for aspiring illustrators nowadays - being part of the entertainment industry. Movies, animations and games need a ton of development, and illustrators are needed in many divisions:
In early stages of production, concept artists help to explore and set the look and feel of the movie/animation/game. This part has the biggest creative freedom.
Everything needs to be designed - even the cabinet in the corner and the windows outside the houses. This part requires extensive research to make sure the designs fit the story's culture and era.
Storyboard requires less artistic skills but more cinematic skills. The artist needs to be the director, visualizing the scenes from a script. This part needs a lot of editing to get the right look.
Color artists need to be skilled in using colors to convey different moods - called color compositions. This part happens in later production stages when the designs and storyboards are confirmed.
Illustration makes us more likely to buy a product. (As an artist, I always look for pretty package illustrations whenever I go shopping in the supermarket.) This can range from canned dog food to CD covers.
Retail Product Illustration
Have you ever buy a birthday card or a pretty cushion with cute patterns? Some illustrators specialize in creating greeting card designs and patterns. The art can be applied on all kinds of stuff - bed sheets, mugs, curtains, bags, T-shirts...(You can check out my online shop for products!) This area often touches licensing which I'll talk about in later posts.
Other lesser known but existing illustration types
Medical illustration: accurately shows how bodies work
Natural science illustration: accurately depicts animals, vegetables and minerals
Technical illustration: accurately shows how machines work
There is actually a very large and diverse range of work for illustrators, so don't feel discouraged if you can't draw pretty Disney princesses - your art style might be a match in another area.
Hello! I'm Bonnie Pang and I'm an award-winning illustrator and comic artist.