These are some of the questions I have been asked most over time. There’s not the same path for all the people who want to be an illustrator, but I can explain (always from personal experience) some things you may asked to yourself. I hope you can find here some useful info.
Becoming an illustrator
How can I start my career?
It’s important to know what segment of the profession you want to focus on. In the world of illustration there are infinite specialties. I am almost 100% dedicated to illustration in the field of children’s and young adults’ literature.
Once you decide which specialty to dedicate your efforts to, create a good portfolio where quality stands out over quantity. There are many resources to learn how to do it, from countless videos on Youtube, articles from illustration.tools or advice from other professionals, like these from the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).
Once you have a solid portfolio, improve your online presence and contact those potential clients where you think your portfolio can fit. It’s a matter of time, perseverance and not stopping improving and learning a little more every day.
How to develop my own style?
The style is a controversial question, I personally believe that it should not be an obsession. Your own style generally develops little by little and is a sum of your personality as well as the inspiration that comes from many different sources (other authors you admire, the things you like to do, your life path, etc). There are many factors and each one develops at a different speed. It is an added value, but it is not essential to consider you as an illustrator.
How to reach to publishers and agencies?
There are different ways to contact with them, in Google you can find a lot of publishers and representation agencies, many of them have information about how to contact them in their own websites or give you some guidelines to send them your portfolio.
If you are not sure where to start, take a look at the exhibitor directory of Bologna Children’s Book Fair, where you will find publishers from all over the world.
In addition, there are publications such as the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrators Market guide, of which a new edition is published every year.
How to create a good portfolio?
If your portfolio is going to be focused to children’s and young adults’ literature, I recommend that you include two or three illustrations that proves you can tell a story . It is important to show that you can maintain a consistence, beyond making stand-alone illustrations.
Besides that, it can be interesting to include expressive characters and well worked backgrounds or environments, the variety will make you learn and develop your skills better.
How to grow on social media?
Nowadays it is important to be active in social media. You don’t have to be obsessed with the number of followers or likes, but you never know where they will find you. Personally, some clients have discovered my work from Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, so I try to be active there.
Also, some initiatives like #PortfolioDay (Twitter) or #Drawtober (Instagram) will help you move your work around, stay active and feel inspired.
About my work
Which tools do you use?
I love traditional techniques so I have used some of these tools a lot:
- Schmincke & Daniel Smith watercolors.
- Polychromos (Faber Castell), Prismacolor, Luminance & Pablo (Caran d’Ache) colored pencils.
- Saunder’s Waterford & Arches watercolor paper.
- Canon Lide220 scan.
But for my daily work, I usually use digital techniques:
- Adoble Photoshop CC ( using a Cintiq 13HD)
- Procreate (on iPad)
Some of my favorite digital brushes are from these artists:
- Alex Dukal (Photoshop)
- Kyle T. Webster (Photoshop + Creative Cloud)
- Max Ulichney (Procreate)
- Shauna Lyn (Procreate)
- Jingsketch (Procreate)
- Vivien Mildenberger (Procreate)
Do you work for free or exposure?
Illustration is a profession, and like any profession, we prefer to be paid for what we do.
Do you do personal commissions?
From time to time I do personal commissions (mostly portraits for special dates) but just in specific moments when I have enough time.
Any other interesting source?
There are so many amazing blogs and newsletters as well as other very interesting resources by artists that I admire such as Rebecca Green, Marloes de Vries, Anke Wekmann, Anoosha Syed o Diana Toledano. In addition to many interesting courses from platforms like Domestika or Skillshare.
Along Eva Carot and Laura Gómez we host a podcast called Viviendo del Cuento where we talk about illustration (and many things we like), but it’s only in Spanish for now, sorry!