You will need to be determined if you want to succeed within freelance illustration, but this applied art form also opens up opportunities across various media and visual communications

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.

Work experience

Try to gain experience via a short placement in a graphic design or animation studio as this will help your understanding of the skills required in the art and design field. It will also give you an idea of the challenges and triumphs of the creative process.

Any work experience that helps you to improve your business skills, as well as creative skills, will be useful. For example, experience of creating and selling your own products shows employers your entrepreneurial capability, in addition to the type of product you can produce.

You need a portfolio of work to present to potential employers that demonstrates your evolving skills, so try to add to this with any work experience you get.

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

Graduates can go into 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.

If you want to work within illustration it's worth considering that 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 areas that you may work on as a freelance illustrator include:

  • film posters;
  • billboards;
  • greetings cards;
  • packaging;
  • fine art posters;
  • animated commercials, television shows, short films or government information services (including health and education).

Find information on employers in creative arts and design, marketing, advertising and PR, media and internet and other job sectors.

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 will 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.

Further study

Although there are few postgraduate courses in illustration, an MA illustration will be suitable if you want 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.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses.

What do illustration graduates do?

More than a quarter of graduates in employment are artists - the top job held by graduates. Two of the four top jobs include graphic designers and commercial artists.

Other job roles include photographer, trainee estimator (ceramics) and online shopper. Almost 7% are undertaking further study, either full time or part time while working.

DestinationPercentage
Employed79.3
Further study4.9
Working and studying2.0
Unemployed8.5
Other5.3
Graduate destinations for illustration
Type of workPercentage
Art, design and media43.4
Retail, catering and bar work25.5
Secretarial and numerical clerks5.8
Childcare, health and education work4.4
Other20.9
Types of work entered in the UK

Find out what other graduates are doing six months after finishing their degrees in What Do Graduates Do?