Thursday, December 6, 2012


It’s no secret that working in illustration can be tough and competitive, and making a living doing it takes a lot of hard work and patience. Illustrators with the goal of quitting their day job may have work that fits well in other fields of illustration – and many must venture into multiple fields to pay the bills. For example, did you know that making a living solely off of picture book illustration is very rare unless you’re a top-selling award-winning illustrator? I didn’t know that when I started. So until we get there, consider incomes from other fields that employ illustrators.

Here’s a general list of some other markets for illustrators:

Advertising Illustration – includes art for print ads in magazines, brochures, displays, outdoor ads, and animated TV commercials

Editorial Illustration – art for magazines and newspapers

Animation/Film Storyboards – art for animatics, storyboards, TV programming, animated films (includes concept art, character design, visual development, background art and more)

Trade Book Illustration - book covers, black and white interior art in novels (for chapter books, MG, YA and adult books), picture book art

Educational Illustration – art for books, products and materials used in the classroom

Licensing Illustration – art for retail products; greeting cards, packaging, gift items, textiles, apparel, toys, games, housewares, etc.

Fashion Illustration – drawings of clothing and accessories for fashion designers, magazines, retailers and advertisers

Medical/Scientific/Architectural/Technical Illustration – drawings for these markets used by companies or institutions for training and education, books, advertising, research, exhibits, museums, project guides, manuals, presentations, etc.

Cartooning/Comics – art for cartoons used in magazines, newspapers, comic books, licensing and merchandising, and online

Digital Media – art used for Web content; online games, apps, advertising, etc.

Gallery Work – original illustrations and prints produced to display and sell in galleries or online

Teaching- educating future illustrators in schools, universities, conferences, workshops and online

Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines, 13th editionKeep in mind that each field requires its own expertise (both in a creative and business sense), a complete and cohesive body of work, and often-times education specific to that trade. And of course, each requires a lot of time and commitment to pursue, learn, and master each trade. 

 To learn more, a great resource for artists and designers is the Graphic Artists Guild HANDBOOK: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. This guide is chalk full of useful information about creative fields, pricing, contracts, rights, etc. 

Eliza Wheeler illustrates and writes for picture books and middle grade novels. See her work at


  1. Very, very helpful post, Eliza. Thank you!

  2. Excellent post, Eliza. And CONGRATS on receiving the F&G's for MISS MAPLE'S SEEDS!!!! They look fantastic!!! (to others who haven't seen the photos yet: Can't wait to buy a copy next April!!

  3. Congrats on winning...challenges always pay for your creativity...

  4. Nice information that inspire me a lot..
    Plastic card, as plastic is much more durable and long lasting...