The new year is here and it is time to evaluate your fashion illustration career and make a mega-plan of action for 2018. It is time to move to the next level, commit yourself to your creative job and stretch yourself artistically. Here are 10 tips to kickstart your illustrator’s career.


1.  Be intentional 

If you want to improve at anything, first of all, you have to decide to do it. You need to make a commitment and even schedule regular time in your week and/or your day to pursue drawing. Inspiration is a result of work, not of waiting. In order to become better at drawing you need to make a habit of it. Everyone is able to become a professional artist; you simply have to believe, stay true to your course and work your ass off. If you want it enough, it will happen.

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” ― Stephen King


2. Create 6 new pieces of art, specific to a single industry

Focus on skills that you have and skills that you’ve wanted to acquire recently (ink linework or textured background). Find tutorials to deal with your weakest points. Then focus on creating 6 pieces of the best artworks you’ve ever made. Put all your attention and heart into the process. Pace your work so you get finished, polished works. They should all suit one single market – if you go for fashion magazines, create printing-friendly works, that match the concept of the chosen magazine. Set the deadlines so you’ll finish the works at the definite moment. The goal is to upgrade the quality of your portfolio while focusing on one specific industry.

Repeat the process once 3 months pass.

Katie Rodgers illustrations

Katie Rodgers illustrations


3. Stay classy

The process of continuous improvement includes not just upgrading your technical skills, but also reaching good taste overall. Does your art have a power that is connected to the beauty of nature and the greatest artworks of history? The search of that beauty requires continuous discovery of the world by observing, reading, listening and feeling in general. Go to galleries, check historical books, go hiking, cook good food, talk to intelligent people, – connect more with the beauty of this world.

Laura Laine illustrations

Laura Laine illustrations


4. Have an online and hard copy portfolio

Your job as an illustrator, aside from drawing, is to make your works easily accessible to your potential clients and followers.

  • You need a good hard copy of your portfolio with your works complete and neat.
  • You also need a PDF copy of that portfolio in case you need to email it or send it to someone in chat.
  • An Instagram gallery with your works can be very helpful too. Especially if your Instagram account attracts attention and has high engagement.
  • A good web-portfolio is essential for a professional illustrator. You can build your website with WordPress and pick a theme (a website template) with a layout and design that matches your personality.

Take a look at this amazing portfolios: 8 inspiring digital art portfolios and why they work.

Portfolio of Nathalia Suellen

Portfolio of Nathalia Suellen

The quality of the images of your works, photographed or scanned, must be high. Otherwise, you will look unprofessional. If you have many works, then you should organize them. Especially when you do different types of works (book covers, editorial illustrations, etc.) or work with various mediums.


5. Always keep your portfolio fresh

There is a big difference between your first work and the recent one. You grow as an artist. You continuously learn and improve. You have to show your mature, up-to-date and more advanced drawings to catch the clients’ attention. A professional will notice the difference in the quality of works if you mix your drawings in one portfolio.

Simon Prades illustrations

Simon Prades illustrations


6. Ask for feedback

Show your works to your friends, colleagues or other artists. The best is to find artist community somewhere around or even online. Ask them what they think of your work. Embrace their critiques. It might not be necessary later when you are all cool and happy with your artistic achievements. However, if you are struggling to get exposure for your art and nab a job, you need to know strong and weak points of your drawings. 


7. Stay true to yourself

We all have that inner compass that points at the things that we care about. That compass should lead your art. Don’t let trends, opinions of others, industry standards or comments about what is “cool” and what is“not cool” interrupt your inner compass. Keep discovering yourself, put the visions that you have on paper, express your true self.

Sarah Tanat Jones illustrations

Sarah Tanat Jones illustrations

However, popular things can help you grow fast as a professional illustrator. E.g., fanart can attract attention not just of many followers, but also of big companies. You just need to put your unique perspective and skills into that fanart, make it personal. Check out this inspiring article about artists that actually were paid for their fanart.

Remember, it is important to keep in mind that a client is a different person. And you have to respect that. If the client wants something in his/her own way, then it is your responsibility to satisfy those needs.


8. Keep drawing

Even if you are drawing at home for yourself, you are growing your mastery and as a result, opening new opportunities. Find time for experimenting, for breaking the rules and your own barriers, for fun after all!

Resting on laurels isn’t an option too. So don’t just stick with the works that you have already done, keep creating. Just because it has made it into your portfolio doesn’t mean it has to stay in it forever. Starting a new project is always a challenge. By embracing that hard work you can show how serious and passionate you are about your art.


9. Don’t stop learning

Surround yourself with people that are creative, passionate and curious. They say that the best way to learn is to be among people that are better than you. Seeing how others are making it happen and absorbing their knowledge can be extremely motivating. Moreover, it can affect your mindset in a positive way.

Malika Favre illustrations

Malika Favre illustrations


10. Promote your art

Start by showing your works to people around you. Network! Building a healthy network in the art world is one of the most effective ways to promote your works.

Then use the power of social media to enlarge your audience. Consistently post your works and engage with your followers. 

You can participate in competitions for illustrators to launch your career. For that, you need to win in a significant one, such as Spectrum.

Connect with other people, collaborate. Remember, that opportunities do not come by themselves, they come from other people. Moreover, by collaborating with other creatives you can work on more complex projects. Stay in touch with people; it is easy to lose connections. 


Keep striving to become better, but always believe in yourself. There is no artist that came great out from the womb. Spend more of your time making stuff, less time thinking about it.  Believe in yourself, work hard and keep your portfolio fresh. Be proud to show it off 😉

Comments: 5

  • Windy McGreal


  • Promise

    Thank you for this post

  • Кубат

    я хочу учится

  • lusi kailee

    this is so very helpfull,so thank u so much

  • Agnieszka Zagroba

    Really great article. I hope I will draw like you one day 🙂

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