What does a Children’s Book Illustrator do?

A picture book for kids Illustrators create the illustrations that go along with the text in children’s books. The children’s book illustrator uses artwork to help bring the book’s words to life. Children’s books, which include picture books, chapter books, and others, are generally defined as works for children aged 12 and under. Illustrators design illustrations for both fiction and nonfiction books. They also create the artwork for children’s books’ covers.

Paint, collage, and computer-generated art are among the mediums used to illustrate children’s books. Children’s book illustrators typically specialize in one medium, though some can work in several. Many children’s book illustrators are known for a specific style of art, such as realistic or cartoon-like, and are sought out publishing houses and other clients looking for that style.

In the publishing industry, children’s book illustrators are frequently freelancers. He or she could work for trade or educational book publishers, or writers who want to self-publish their books could hire him or her directly. Illustrators for children’s books may be paid royalties for works that have been published, or they may be paid flat fees under work-for-hire contracts. Some illustrators are also writers, and vice versa, so they can provide the whole package for a book.

The children’s book illustrator rarely works one-on-one with the book’s author for traditionally published books, and the two rarely meet. Instead, the text is given to the illustrator the publisher. The illustrator’s job is then to interpret the text and create artwork that enhances and complements the story or non-fiction work. In the self-publishing world, authors will look for artists to illustrate their works directly. The illustrations will take into account both the text of the works and the authors’ personal style preferences.

Illustrators for children’s books receive training in a variety of ways. Some have graduated from colleges and universities with formal arts degrees. Others take classes in drawing, painting, and other disciplines on a sporadic basis. Some illustrators for children’s books are self-taught artists.

To gain exposure for their work, many children’s book illustrators put together artist portfolios. Portfolios can be digital, printed, or both. Publishers, writers, and other potential clients are shown their portfolios. Illustrators for children’s books may also use publishing agents to help them find work. Some children’s book illustrators put their skills to work for advertising agencies, product developers, and others who require illustrations for children’s books.