Creative industries

Illustrator (creative industries)

Illustrator (creative industries)

Illustrators are artists who produce still drawings used across the creative industries in advertisements, books, magazines, packaging, greetings cards and newspapers. People with the core skill of being able to draw are well placed to have a portfolio career with a choice of clients, as there is demand for it in a wide range of sectors.

Case study – Theo Scott

Theo Scott is an illustrator and award-winning animation director based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  Theo’s heart is in animation. He has won the Royal Television Society’s Professional Excellence: Animation award and Best Animated Film and the British Short Film awards for his film Cuties.  He would like to be making his own animated films full time, but needs to do graphic design and package design to keep his income steady. This is what makes it possible for him to pursue his passion for creating cartoons.

“The main difference between designing a pack of coffee and making an animation is the design aspect,” says Theo. “With package design, it’s all quite insular and there are no surprises, but when you’re working with a team it feels like Christmas morning when you get a new animation through. It’s really exciting to see someone’s interpretation.”

Core skills in illustration and animation direction

  • Drawing – this is core to illustration and essential for concept art, storyboarding and designing in animation
  • Using software – working in both illustration and animation, you continually learn new software skills, which makes your work more efficient
  • Time management – both roles require hours of detailed work in front of a screen. It’s essential to spend time away doing something else
  • Ability to respond to notes – in illustration, notes come from clients; in animation direction, they come from commissioners and members of the team. Wherever notes come from, it’s important to be able to respond positively
  • Freelancing – be able to keep your books, manage your finances and stay alert to new business opportunities. For ScreenSkills’ guide on how to do this, go to Freelance Toolkit

Tips for moving between illustration and animation direction

  • Pick you craft – drawing – and hone it so that you can always fall back on it to pay your bills
  • Write to-do lists and stick to them
  • Find someone from whom you can get honest feedback and take it on board
  • Email people whose work you admire and ask if you can meet for a coffee and to show them your portfolio
  • Having developed your contacts, make time to maintain them
  • Learn the processes through which the work is created in each sector, from Gantt charts for story boards through to the final edit in animation
  • Balance the need for self-expression in creating your own work with the ability to attend to the needs of a client. Enjoy those differences and learn how to balance them within your portfolio

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