The most common role within illustration is that of an artist, but this applied art form also opens up other opportunities across a range of media and visual communications platforms
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Concept artist
- Graphic designer
- Multimedia programmer
- Production designer, theatre/television/film
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Advertising account executive
- Arts administrator
- Fashion designer
- Fine artist
- Higher education lecturer
- Special effects technician
- Textile designer
- VFX artist
- Web designer
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
Undertaking a short placement in a graphic design or animation studio will help deepen your understanding of the skills required in the art and design field. You'll also gain an insight into the challenges and triumphs of the creative process.
As well as developing your creative skill set, improving your business skills is also useful. For example, creating and selling your own products demonstrates your entrepreneurial capability, as well as your ability to produce them.
You’ll need a portfolio of work to present to potential employers, evidencing your skills. You can then add to this every time you complete more work experience.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
Graduates can get work in many different areas, particularly within the creative arts and design sector. Employers include advertising and marketing agencies, publishers, and graphic design, web design or animation companies.
Most illustrators are self-employed and generate their own work based on client needs. Paid vacancies are rarely advertised.
Potential clients can include advertising agencies, design consultancies, publishers, print (newspapers and magazines) and events management companies. Other projects you may work on as a freelance illustrator include:
- film posters
- greetings cards
- fine art posters
- animated commercials, television shows, short films or government information services (including health and education materials).
Skills for your CV
An illustration degree allows you to develop a mix of subject-specific and technical skills, which can be used across many careers. You'll be able to demonstrate:
- creativity - learning to find your own style while being flexible to new ideas and client needs
- the capacity to work independently - in order to produce your own work and build your portfolio
- design skills and methods - drawing and sketching, moving image and digital media
- IT skills - using specific creative software
- entrepreneurial skills - your portfolio has to be creative, imaginative and commercial
- interpersonal skills - to collaborate with others
- effective networking - using social media to brand and promote yourself and your creative products
- business management capability - knowing how to deal with tax, copyright and licences.
Although there are few postgraduate courses in illustration, a Masters in illustration will be suitable for you if you're hoping to pursue a career in teaching at further education (FE) or higher education (HE) level.
Postgraduate courses that allow you to specialise in other areas such as graphic design, marketing, animation or advertising are available. For example, a Masters in design management can lead to roles in the Design Council or in communication management.
Completing a postgraduate course demonstrates to potential employers your investment in personal growth and gives you the opportunity to develop your portfolio and expand a network of contacts in the industry.
Short courses to refine IT skills are also an option.
What do illustration graduates do?
More than a quarter of graduates in employment are artists - the top job held by graduates. Two of the five top jobs include graphic designers and commercial artists.
Over a tenth are undertaking further study, either full or part time while working.
|Working and studying||3.4|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Art, design and media||46.4|
|Retail, catering and bar work||22.4|
|Secretarial and numerical clerks||4.3|
|Marketing, PR and sales||4.2|
Find out what other graduates are doing six months after finishing their degrees in What do graduates do?
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.