How To Earn an Illustrator Degree in 5 Steps (With Benefits)

What is a degree in illustration?

How to Become an Illustrator is a question that many students with an interest in a career that allows them to use art and illustration to tell stories may have. Professional illustrators not only create illustrations for comic books, books, and fashion companies, among others, but they are also skilled at capturing different moods, emotions, and perspectives in their artwork.

A wide range of industries, including marketing, advertising, film and television, publishing, web design, and video game design, are in high demand for skilled illustrators. Candidates must acquire the knowledge and abilities necessary to succeed as illustrators. Graduates can acquire the knowledge and skills they’ll need to pursue careers as visual communicators by finishing a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as an online bachelor’s in digital media from Maryville University.

“What Can You Do With An Illustration Degree?” // Markets of Illustration

Why get an illustrator degree?

Although independent practice can lead to professional illustrator status, earning a degree has a number of advantages. You might consider earning a degree in illustration for the following reasons:

Improve artistic skill

One of the main advantages of an illustrator degree program is that it can give you the direction and framework you need to advance your artistic ability. Attending lectures and practical courses will allow you to expand your skill set and learn new artistic techniques. These new techniques might involve using different styles or materials. You could experiment with drawing with pencil, charcoal, watercolor, ink, or digital software, for instance. Additionally, you can hone your artistic abilities with a lot of practice and constructive criticism from mentors.

Build a professional portfolio

Taking part in a degree program for illustrators can be a great way to build a strong professional portfolio. You can showcase your talent to prospective employers by using the illustrations you produce for your classes or extracurricular projects. You could also ask your teachers or peers which works they feel best capture your style and value as an artist. You can then emphasize those pieces in your portfolio.

Develop a specialization

Getting a degree can be beneficial for developing a specialization. After graduation, this might facilitate connecting with clients or finding employment. Additionally, you can use your degree experience to investigate new areas of illustration and identify new passions. If you are already aware of the illustration style you would like to specialize in, you could use that knowledge to assist you in selecting the best degree program to help you turn it into a marketable skill.

Here are a few types of illustration specializations to consider:

Build a professional network

Another advantage of enrolling in an illustrator degree program is the chance to develop a professional network. You might establish helpful relationships with academics, managers, mentors, and colleagues in the publishing and illustration industries. These connections may help you find professional work after graduating. Additionally, you can benefit from any professional preparation assistance that your institution might provide. This can include assistance with application materials like resumes, cover letters, and portfolios, career counseling, and networking with alumni.

How to get an illustrator degree

Here are some steps you can take if you want to earn a degree as an illustrator:

1. Reflect on your goals

To become an illustrator, you must first consider your objectives. You might think about your artistic objectives, such as the genres or mediums you’d like to experiment with. You can also reflect on your professional goals. These could include your intended career path, your desired income level, and your ideal workplace. If you’re unsure of where to begin, think about keeping a journal or talking to a friend or mentor about your objectives. After that, you can use those objectives as a set of standards to compare various degree programs.

2. Research programs

Once you’ve made a list of objectives, you can use them to guide your choice of program. Here are a few program options to consider:

You can research specific program options after deciding on the type of degree you want to pursue and make a list of your top choices. You can take location, cost, and whether the program is online or in person into consideration in addition to degree type. To learn more about the initiations mission, values, and educational philosophy, visiting the school website can be helpful. Additionally, you can look up notable professors, the expected type of coursework, and alumni success rates.

3. Assemble your application materials

Next, you can assemble your application materials. A personal statement, academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores, and additional essay prompts are frequently required for degree programs.

Some illustration degree programs might require a portfolio. Some applicants might accept a portfolio as an optional supplement. You can gather your favorite illustrations from classes, extracurricular activities, or personal practice to put together an illustrator portfolio. Consider including any illustrations you’ve submitted to contests or festivals. Include a selection that demonstrates the breadth of your skills and your unique illustration style.

4. Apply

You can send your application materials to each degree program on your list once you’ve completed them. The application requirements for various degree programs may differ, so it can be helpful to carefully read each set of instructions. To keep track of various requirements and deadlines, you can also make a spreadsheet or calendar. You can continue to learn about and demonstrate interest in the institutions after submitting your application by going to events or setting up alumni interviews.

5. Complete the program

You can start the program once you are offered admission to your desired degree program and accept it. You can participate in studio coursework, go to lectures, finish assignments, and take tests. Some degree programs conclude with a senior project, such as an exhibition of your own artwork. When you graduate, you receive your illustrator degree.


What degree do I need to be an illustrator?

Although it is possible to be hired for some entry-level positions with just a high school diploma and exceptional drawing abilities, the majority of illustrators have at least an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in illustration.

Is a degree in illustration worth it?

According to collegetuitoncompare, the average annual salary for illustrators with degrees is $67,913. It is safe to say that if you borrow student loans, it may take you ten years or longer to repay them. The majority of illustrators end up working for themselves as freelancers, marketing and networking to find clients.

Do illustrators get paid well?

According to the BLS, the average annual salary for illustrators was $63,030 in May 2019. Their pay greatly depends on the size of their employers, their level of experience, and where they live. 50% of these fine artists were paid between $32,400 and $74,110 annually.

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