Jesús Escudero is a freelance illustrator who has contributed to a number of textbooks, children’s books, and magazines. He has also done illustrations for advertisements and campaigns. As Jesús says, “Illustration – that great line of work that allows you to listen to music while you work.” For more information on Jesús and his illustrations, visit his web page.
The world of professional illustration is an attractive field and once you are in it, it can become even more fascinating. If you would like to become part of this intriguing world, here are five steps you can follow.
If you like drawing and want to spend your day drawing – then do it! Be determined about using all of the free time you have to draw and create illustrations. To stay creative, always take a notebook with your where you can sketch, brainstorm ideas or take notes. The notebook needn’t be a work of art, quite the contrary, just use it to test your ideas and let them flow. On top of this, you can attend conferences, keep an eye on details in your daily life and motivate yourself by going to exhibits and by keeping track of creators not just in the world of art but also in cinema, photography, novels, or even in dishes by famous chefs. Remember that you do not need to focus on styles that are fashionable for inspiration – there is a lot to be learned from the rich and deep history of this profession so it is a great idea to submerge yourself in it to learn as much as you can.
Draw a lot
Drawing a lot, and when I say a lot, I mean, a lot, is part of being a professional illustrator. Artists spend hours drawing, creating visuals, creating compositions and to be an illustrator it does not just involve spending a Sunday afternoon in front of a blank page and coming up with new ideas. Being an artist means developing a series of abilities to solve problems and provide visual solutions that accompany specific content. Being trained to think on your feet will help you when your hobby becomes a profession.
Create a personal project
A certain amount of time might have gone by and you are drawing more and more. At this stage, it might be a good time to focus your abilities on a personal project which needn’t be big, but should be yours. The project might be a set of illustrations with a common thread or illustrations of something you are passionate about. This series of drawings can be the first step to developing a professional portfolio that can be used as your ‘business card’ in the future. Create and enjoy!
Show and send
Once you have spent a certain amount of time pencil in hand and with a series of personal projects under your belt, you can decide if your passion for drawing is something more than a hobby by showing others your work. Display your illustrations on social networks or send samples of your work to publishers and agencies. Make sure you send your illustrations with a meaning in mind and that they are contextualized. Show, send and eventually, if all goes well, sell your work.
Sell your ideas with dignity and stay strong
When you get to the point where you are looking to take on possible assignments and jobs you can really start to see yourself as a professional and you will see that your dedication and hard work has not been a waste of time. You are still an artist but now you are a commercial artist. There will be those who will get in touch with you and will appreciate that you are a developed professional and pay you for your work but, unfortunately, there will also be a number of cases where someone will ask you to illustrate something and not be prepared to pay or not pay what you deserve. You will even be offered unpaid work so you can promote yourself or for prestige or visibility. Living in the age of image, and with the possibilities available on the internet, the fact that some customers want to pay by offering ‘visibility’ is a bit of a joke. It is definitely complicated to pay the electric bill, the rent or for food at the supermarket with visibility! So, you will not only have to be a skilled artist but you will also have to know what your work is worth through online forums, joining associations or talking to colleagues in the field. Make sure you keep your dignity in mind – if someone wants your work, they should pay for it.