Becoming a Children’s book illustrator


Becoming an Illustrator for Children’s Books

The role of a children’s book illustrator is the creation and design of images to complement children’s stories. An illustrator could be employed by a publishing house or magazine, but most commonly, they work on a freelance basis. This means that they work with a variety of writers or others who produce children’s stories and may have a list of clients they work with regularly. Becoming an illustrator for children’s books isn’t terribly difficult if you have the talent required, can work according to a deadline and know how to find clients.

Educational Requirements

While a degree is not required for becoming a children’s book illustrator, it can be a helpful addition to your resume. A bachelor’s degree can be obtained in the area of illustration, or you may want to invest in private lessons. Workshops and art classes are also very helpful in building your credentials for becoming an illustrator. While you do not have to have formal education to become an illustrator, it is demonstrably easier to do so if you have some formal training in your background. Classes are available that cover a wide range of illustration types, drawing strategies and techniques and contemporary art.

Building a Portfolio

A portfolio contains samples of your work to show prospective employers; you might have samples created from previous jobs, an apprenticeship or internship or various courses you’ve attended. There are programs available in various secondary educational settings that focus solely on developing your portfolio.

Every employer who’s looking to hire you to illustrate a story is going to want to be able to look at your portfolio. An excellent portfolio is the best tool you can have to find good illustration jobs. It’s important that your portfolio reflect your unique style. Look into various portfolio formats; online portfolio options are growing in popularity and offer an outstanding option for displaying your work to its best advantage.

Getting a Job

Getting an illustration job can be difficult if you don’t have previous experience. Whether you have contacts in a publishing house, want to work for a magazine or just have an online freelance profile, it can take time to build a reliable clientele. Successful freelance illustrators can transition into full-time jobs once they have built a good reputation. For illustrators who are already employed, it’s important to understand that you have to stay current and relevant to keep your position. New illustrators are always gaining recognition, so staying ahead of the curve is essential to staying employed.

Building a Client List

Whether you have been employed as a full-time illustrator or you’re just beginning to build your portfolio, a client list is essential for any illustrator who decides to become a freelancer. In order to build a client list, you must wade through many jobs and painstakingly cultivate those relationships where repeat work is a possibility. Becoming a successful illustrator for children’s books requires talent and diligence, as well as a head for marketing.

A few of my previous clients

happydesigner clients

  • "WOW! Love it! I'm so happy with what you've produced- and with so little input from me. FANTASTIC!!! THANK YOU” - Darren Pascoe: 'Red Rabbit Book'

  • Sarah really understood the brief right from the beginning and has been able to translate my ideas and mental images, that at times were quite specific, into magical illustrations that are better than I’d ever hoped. She has absolutely nailed it!” – Gareth Edwards

  • "I can’t speak highly enough of Sarah! She has brought Roopert Snoopert to life in a way I could never have imagined.
    The illustrations are fantastic! Sarah keeps you update with progress from the draft stage right through to sign off." - Paul Micklewright
  • "Outstanding illustrator with exceptional talent. You couldn’t wish for a better artist, as it would be impossible to find. Such a spectacular gifted designer who is always happy!" - Rachel Lake

  • “Books arrived safely today- I am absolutely delighted with how they look – I can’t thank you enough – you’ve made my dream come true :)” – Jane Collins

  • "Sarah is amazing - very fast at understanding the requirements, great pictures and never too much trouble. I recommend her wholeheartedly" - Fernando Caldeira-Saraiva
  • “I am so happy that I found Sarah to bring my book to life. Sarah took the time to listen and really made the effort to make sure that I was happy and her brilliant designs translated the words of my book into a beautiful visual story." - Jodie Jackson

  • “Sarah’s advice has been invaluable, she could have just illustrated my first attempt but knew there was more to be had from the story and pointed me towards the right help." – Darron Jon Love

  • "The logos are absolutely fantastic, they are spot on brief and are even better than we imagined!Paolo Pini, Step Up To Languages

  • "These posters and flyers are perfect”
    - Julia G, Manager at the Truro branch of Pets at Home

  • Sarah is an extremely talented designer and illustrator. She has that rare gift of being able to find something in your business or character that you never knew existed" Craig Green

  • "She has a keen eye for the quirky detail, she is punctual and a joy to work with. I simply cannot praise her enough.” - Clickety Books

  • “I was so nervous ringing you as i've never done anything like this before, but you were so friendly and put me completely at ease.” - Donna Purvis

  • "It's been great working with Sarah as our illustrator! She's been so great in taking all feedback on board and delivers work of the highest standard. Would 100% recommend :-)" - Michelle Gibbs, Doodle Dozen Series
  • "I hope my recommendation will persuade you to use Sarah! I cannot fault her, for her professionalism, enthusiasm and talent." - Michelle Hawkins, Director: The Flying DoDo

  • “Sarah’s re-branding of my business has given it a much needed fresh and quirky feel. She provided us with an extremely friendly courteous and efficient service and injected an energy into the project, that only Sarah could.” – Discovery Leisure

  • "Sarah loves her work, her friendly ‘can do’ approach is reassuring whether you’re on your first or tenth book."  – Darron Jon Love
  • “Sarah was lovely to work with and keen to make sure that the illustrations were a perfect match for the story. It’s obvious that she really cares about her work and wants you, the author, to be happy with the final results.” – Marion Adams

  • "Sarah understood what I was looking for and produced a fantastic logo for me.  She is very approachable and friendly – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her” Katie Jarvis, Fancy Prints

  • "Thank you both so much for your hard work and dedication. Sarah is a fantastic illustrator! It is nice to know I have worked with someone who is so professional at her job, and will certainly remember her for the future if I need another book illustrating."
  • “When we first contacted Sarah, Dainty Dizzy was a concept;  an idea to be shaped into a brand.  Sarah took this idea and illustrated it perfectly….and our brand look and feel was born.” – Dainty Dizzy

  • “Thank you, Sarah, for the amazing work you did on the illustrations for my book. Working with you has been so easy thanks to your enthusiasm, flexibility, support, professionalism and, of course, the amazing quality of your work." – Stuart Neath

  • "Sarah quickly understood what I wanted to achieve and the look I was after. Sarah kept me informed and brought me into the whole process” – Darron Jon Love

  • Sarah is professional, friendly and very knowledgeable, she delivered 100% with a new logo that was spot on! We can't recommend her enough!” - Lucy @ Get Active

  • Sarah has a great insight into how to best produce a children’s book and is really helpful in getting you there! I really cannot recommend Sarah enough – brilliant designer, friendly and professional. The experience has been a great one!“ – Jodie Jackson
  • "I am absolutely thrilled with the colours and love the look and overall feel of the book, its so different and unique, thank you so much"