How can I start artistic or illustration work?

How can I get started for an artistic or illustration career?

How can I get started for an artistic or illustration career? 

— Rafael

Expert answers

Melanie Shee's reply:

Hi Rafael,


To be honest your question is a little vague as `artistic' can cover so many different disciplines. Nor do you say if you have an experience, skills of knowledge in these areas. In light of this I will base my feedback on the assumption that you don't have any formal training in art and design or illustration. 


You may want to consider studying art and design at a Further Education College as this will help you determine which area of art and design you wish to work in. You would be expected to have a portfolio of work to show them prior to having an entrance interview. If you don't have a portfolio I recommend you  spend some time developing your portfolio.  There are a number of colleges and websites out there that offer advice on developing a portfolio such as,


I suggest you contact a Further Education college in your area and have an informal  chat with one of the art and design tutors as they will be able to offer you more advice on studying and working in the sector.


In relation to working as an illustrator, there is no fixed route to becoming an illustrator. You do not need to go to college or university to work as an illustrator. However,  although as I said you don’t need to be a qualified  to work as an illustrator you need to remember that will be competing with people  who have very specific design portfolios, often in digital format. You will be expected to be proficient in using the specific software used in every design office such as  Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator.  You can teach yourself these programmes but you will be expected to very competent it using them. 


Again, you could talk to your local college about illustration courses or even approach a local design agency and have an informal chat with them about what skills and experiences they are looking for when the employ or contract with an illustrator. 


Take a look at the Association of Illustrators website ( and other sites promoting illustration to see the quality of the work, portfolios and who you would be competing with for work.

I hope this is of some help.



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