How to become a commercial illustrator

Written by Lina Navickaitė

Becoming a commercial illustrator takes time. Overcoming the stereotypes of an artist and becoming technically skilled expert illustrator takes hard work and commitment. Has anyone ever questioned your reputation as a creative? Have you been in that uncomfortable situation before? It’s very often disrespectful. Regardless of who questions you, take your time and you’ll succeed. It takes work and time. And, most importantly, you must study. More on that later.

Illustrator vs. artist

There is a big difference between an artist and an illustrator. A journey begins with personal illustrations or art projects. In order to become a successful commercial illustrator, you need to sacrifice some of your artistic flair and dedicate yourself to understanding your client, their business, and how the industry works.

Before the project begins, it involves brand and content analysis, industry research, and many other steps. Illustrators often work with clients from different industries. Not that you have to be a genius at everything, but basics make a difference. So, continue to learn, co-creators!

To provide your clients with the best visual tool to help solve their problems, it is best to get to know their problems. If you’ve understood the crux of the problem, sit down and learn the basic industry language, get to know the specifics, and then apply your creative brain to it.

If you think: ‘It takes a lot of work to become an illustrator!’ – that is the best way to become a top player in the competitive world of commercial illustration.

Here is how you can become THE BEST COMMERCIAL ILLUSTRATOR

Firstly, you are born naturally creative. Don’t kill these vibes too soon. The key to becoming good at what you do is creativity. Techniques can be learned.

Second, you’re discovering a skill that allows you to express your ideas visually – drawing.

The third step is to begin creating.

After that, you enter a transitional period, from amateur illustrator to professional or commercial illustrator. However, don’t get too excited – it takes time. Have patience and don’t give up.

The client sends you heaps of content to work with. Wait, I know what you’re thinking now… Is this really what an illustrator does? Well, it does in part – to visualise content, notably graphic recorders who illustrate verbal content during an event, as well as Business and Data illustrators. In my opinion, we have chosen the most difficult route, since it requires a lot of processing content. On the other hand, you learn about the latest world trends and become smarter every day. You may learn about ‘The secrets of the financial world and digital currencies,’ or discover ‘The best nano-medicine inventions’ before anyone else. Of course, if you sign those NDAs first! Only for your own ears and development, until it goes live. But hey, you’re already ahead of the game!

Therefore, choose an industry you are interested in working in and get smarter every day. You can choose from a wide range of industries. If you practice your craft in one single direction, you will become more skilled.

We work with a lot of verbal and written content at Smartup Visuals. Previously, our office looked like a lawyer or clerk’s office. The digital age has changed that.

Our expertise grew from a wide range of content visualisations down to more specific types of illustrations.

As graphic recorders, or Live Scribers, we have gained recognition in our field and among business and corporate institutions. With every project we undertake, we build knowledge about our clients.

Our journey to commercial illustration worldwide

In the course of our experience, we’ve realised that we’re not just Graphic Recorders, but also provide clients with visual solutions for capturing, simplifying and presenting data in tangible forms – Data Illustrations and Infographics. Digital scribing – the creation of digital infographics – was our innovation twist. Live Scribing is part of the service, along with technical skills, including working with digital vector illustrations. 

Our illustrations also tell the stories of our clients. Presenting new ideas in this way can be an effective method of pitching clients, launching products, etc. Visually, the viewer is taken through a story of complex information in a very pleasing manner. This is known as whiteboard animation or explainer videos.

After all that has been said, take your time, develop your strengths, identify your weaknesses and choose your style as an illustrator and perhaps the industry that you like most and become an A player!

Work and recognition are needed to prove your skillset and expertise and achieve excellence. However, practice makes perfect. The only way you will earn the confidence you need as an illustrator is through hard work. Ultimately, this builds trust, respect, and recognition among your agents and clients.

Being invited and promoted by Illustration X as Ecopic and joining some of the best commercial illustrators in Northern America is a very proud moment for us.

We are so excited to let the world see what we are made of! We will be exhibiting Live Scribing and Business Illustration at next month’s Graphic National Show. Join the troops, people.

We can’t wait to see what you accomplish! And if you ever wish to join our team, just send us an email!