Career as an illustrator: Artists share how they got into illustration

Aditi Gupta
Aditi Gupta
Posted on 31 Oct 2022
17:41 PM
Representative Image

Representative Image Source: Shutterstock

The demand for illustrators has risen more than ever, especially for brands that focus on visual merchandising and promotions
Illustrators often work for media agencies where they have to adhere to a specific set format according to their creative brief

Pursuing art as a full-time profession in 2022 is no longer associated with just fine arts or oil painting. The field is diverse and with digital advancements, art has branched out to several aspects, of which illustration is one.

Illustrators often work along the lines of graphic designers, either as freelancers or for media agencies, digital marketing or branding agencies. They adhere to a specific set format according to their creative brief for promotional campaigns.

We at Edugraph, share the experiences of two illustrators working at different companies who share a similar approach towards illustration: the passion for art and storytelling.


Kiran Agarwal, a full-time illustrator at Rekhta Foundation, says she didn't even know this was an actual thing when she started working as a social media executive. Her love for art and painting followed her into this new job when she was asked to design a few social media briefs. Youtube became her guide as she started to try her hands at Adobe Photoshop, little did she know that this brief stint would turn out to be a pageturner for her career.

Kiran Agarwal with her illustration

Kiran Agarwal with her illustration Kiran Agarwal

“While giving an interview, I was asked if I could combine both my painting and video skills in an image. I had no prior experience in illustration before and realised the industry is going towards video, so that was a learning point for me and I never looked back”, said Kiran.

Also Read | 8 exciting career options after getting a Fine Arts degree

Social media as a tool for showcasing work

The problem faced by her generation (ages 22-27) was a basic lack of awareness. After school, pursuing traditional courses was regarded as the most ideal option and social media was just considered as a mere platform to share travel pictures.

The opportunity lies in the present where knowing about new career opportunities has become comparatively easier. With just a few clicks one can get to all the industry insights as well as get the right job opportunities. Instagram has become more than just a platform to showcase one's work but as a place to be seen and to be employed!

Khushboo Mehta, a freelance illustrator at Estee Lauder, says her first gig for illustration came through Instagram. “Instagram opened up the idea of digital illustration for me because everyone around me was into traditional art. No one I knew was doing digital art. So, when I started finally uploading my work on Instagram and would follow other illustrators, I saw that people were getting into the digital space and there was room for me to grow. That's when I invested in an iPad and Procreate and started creating digital art. I found illustrators on Instagram and approached them for work”.

Khushboo Mehta and her work of art illustration

Khushboo Mehta and her work of art illustration Khushboo Mehta

Khusboo goes on to add: “Have an Instagram page and keep updating it daily. Clients these days go on Instagram mostly. Look out for people working in a publishing house, or art enthusiasts”.

Finding jobs in this field

There are several freelance websites like Fiverr and Behance - where one can send in their entries.

According to Kiran, for illustrators, the portfolio matters more than the degree. “Do not go after building a follower base but instead focus on building a portfolio. Do the research and find the companies or organisations whose work you are liking and whether it inclines with the kind of work you want to do. Go to their careers page and apply. If not, reach out to the HRs and send them a mail saying you are looking for a collaboration. You can also approach people on LinkedIn”.

Illustrations by Khushboo Mehta

Illustrations by Khushboo Mehta Khushboo Mehta

Speaking of where illustrators derive their inspiration from, Khushboo, who is a food enthusiast and is planning a food calendar for her next project, says that her life experiences/daily life activities are her major source of inspiration, just like any other artist. Additionally, Pinterest is also a good source for any topic in the world, especially for accessing artwork.

On overcoming a creative block

“There are days when there is no inspiration around me, then I feel like checking the works of other illustrators, and trying out new things in life, basically, things that will help me to get off the creative block”, says Khushboo.

Meanwhile, for Kiran, coffee helps a lot as does practising a fun exercise of drawing random shapes and turning them into pictures. “I make a rectangle into a bus or a sleeping bag. So, the idea is to animate something from an inanimate object. This will help you to give a fresh perspective and will reassure you that you haven't lost your creative flair.”

“Pick up any story and imagine putting that into one or two images. Practising putting text into a picture is how you will be briefed when given assignments. Start from a sketch and take any short story or a poem and put that into an illustration or a drawing”, Kiran concluded.

Saving your artwork from being stolen

It is nothing new for artists to witness their work being plagiarized and used without being given any credits. This is especially true on the internet, since it's pretty easy for one to copy and post them. Upcoming artists should always make sure that their artwork is copyrighted or watermarked.

Some more illustrations by Kiran Agarwal

Some more illustrations by Kiran Agarwal Kiran Agarwal

Speaking from her life experiences, Kiran stated, “Every artwork should probably have consistent branding and a watermark, which speaks for itself that it is your work. Mentioning the image is subjected to copyright will also prevent your work from being plagiarized”.

“Get your credits, it is important to discuss the credit mentioned to you before you sign up for a big opportunity. Do not get swayed in excitement, because this is a mistake that many artists make and have to face the consequences of later on”, says Khushboo, who has also illustrated a children's book.

The demand for illustrators has risen more than ever, especially for brands that focus on visual merchandising and promotions. Art enthusiasts have a wide variety of options to pursue a career in and so much to look forward to.

With that being said, the world's an oyster. Let's make our younger generations more creative and open to opportunities. After all, as Khushboo says, “Be consistent if you want to take this up seriously, and don't be afraid to put your work out there. Don't let imposter syndrome take you over.”

Last updated on 04 Nov 2022
15:56 PM
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