It used to be that our lives were simple. We didn’t need to go around scouring the internet for amazing illustration artists, for one. Alas, times have changed, and our needs with them. You see, having a solid artist (or team of artists) on the case whenever you’re starting a project is no small thing.  It can spell the difference between an enjoyable experience with great results or a “tear-your-hair-out” affair that you can’t wait to be over. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Graphic design is one of those things that everyone feels they have a knack for, but few excel at. As with many things in our era, aspiring artists can very easily set up accounts on freelancing sites. The thing is, it’s not that easy for would-be clients (ie: you) to sort the wheat from the chaff. How do you find great illustration artists? How do you know that they can do what they say they can do? Is there a way to avoid getting scammed and make sure they’re on the up and up? Where are the actual good artists? Is there, like, a community where they all live together like hippies or something?

Lucky for you, I know the answers to all of these questions and more. Don’t sweat it, is all I’m saying; we’ll take it from the top and go from there.

What Are Illustration Artists?

I’m sure at some point you’ve tried your hand at drawing. Heck, it’s even possible that you can draw a mean sketch. But, that doesn’t really mean that you’re ready for the prime-time, is it? Being a professional illustrator is a little more involved, and a little more demanding.

Illustration artists, according to Tuts Plus, are:

 The short of it is they illustrate for a variety of clients. (…) The same goes for book covers and interior illustrations. Graphic designers do the designing, but often illustrators are called upon for drawing, paintings, and more.

So, you’ve got your designers, and you’ve got your artists. But these illustrators aren’t just great at drawing; they’re amazing at creating content that fits the tone and context of the project. They’re both creative and amazing at following certain guidelines — sticking to a roadmap if you will. Generally, you’ll have a certain vision for where a project needs to go. Illustration artists will follow that vision to create the kind of content you need. While some projects may call for a more creative, hands-off approach, others may call for something a little more specific. Artists have to be great at moving between these worlds.

What Do They Do?

Illustration artists can perform many roles depending on the type of project. I went over this in our “Want to Become a Freelance Illustrator? Start Here!” article, and I’ll happily go over it again for your reading pleasure. Some of the most common jobs are:

  1. Concept Art and Character Design — Looking for out-of-this-world character designs and concept art for your upcoming projects? These artists will make sure to bring your vision into reality. Even if you have a rough idea of how a character should look like, they’re experts at finding the right look.
  2. Entertainment Art — Need a creative illustrator for a movie, video game, graphic novel, or anything else? Then these are the droids you’re looking for. Whether you need marketing material or something that will end up on the screen, they’ll have your back in no time.
  3. Product Design for the Textile Industry — These pros create designs for t-shirts, clothing items, or similar fare. Plenty of companies like Disney and Mattel outsource their textile designs.
  4. Book and Editorial Illustration — Ever gawked at an amazing book cover in stunned silence? Hey, we know you like your Danielle Steel. It’s all good, we ain’t judgin’. These are the pros who ensure you have great covers and inner-page illustrations every time.
  5. Packaging Illustration — Eye-poppin’ stuff is a must in packaging. These illustrators are partly responsible for products flying from the shelves. If you’ve ever stopped to stare at some great packaging, they’ve done their job right.

More Information About Illustration Artists

Sure, I’ve gone over some of the most well-known offshoots and branches freelance illustration artists can go down, but that’s not all. Some perform other duties, some just one of the above, some several, and some are jacks-of-all-trades.; in the world of illustration, variety is king. As long as they’ve got the goods, illustrators can easily shift between industries and projects. Sure, specialization is a bonus, but they can always learn new tools.

There’s one thing that’s for sure: being an illustrator is a high-paying job, but with a lot of variability. According to ZipRecruiter:

As of Dec 30, 2020, the average annual pay for a Freelance Illustrator in the United States is $59,837 a year.

Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $28.77 an hour. This is the equivalent of $1,151/week or $4,986/month.

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $128,000 and as low as $18,000, the majority of Freelance Illustrator salaries currently range between $37,000 (25th percentile) to $70,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $100,000 annually across the United States. The average pay range for a Freelance Illustrator varies greatly (by as much as $33,000), which suggests there may be many opportunities for advancement and increased pay based on skill level, location and years of experience.

That’s not too shabby. It also means that with a little finessing, you’ll be able to find plenty of freelance illustrators with great prices. Some may be worth just as much as you expected, some may actually offer great value for their price. If you look around a bit, there’s no telling what you’ll find.

illustration artists for designers

How to Find Great Illustration Artists

Now comes the fun part. Illustration artists are everywhere, but you’ll need a little help to find ones that are actually worth their stuff. It’s easy to be bamboozled by promises of greatness but — and this is especially true in the freelance market — flashiness doesn’t always equate to great results. What you need is to know where, when, and how to pick out great pros.

First, let’s talk platforms and studios. These are going to probably be your #1 go-to when attempting to hire talent. Then, after you’ve built a solid relationship and established trust, you can think about hiring directly.

Freelancing Platforms

Places like Freelancer, Workana, and Upwork are veritable oases of talent. Thousands upon thousands of pros line up each day to create accounts there, and with good reason. At the same time, many enterprising clients go to these platforms attempting to hire rockstar illustration artists for their projects. How to go about it, you wonder? It’s easy!

The process is simple, and it’s much like creating those old-time classified ads:

  • First, you create a job posting that details the job and the estimated pay. Try to make this part as detailed as possible; don’t just say “Illustrator wanted,” entice the reader to participate, show samples of what you’re looking for, be as specific as possible. Don’t just imagine that pros are going to be lining up to provide something that fits your mental model. On the contrary, anticipate that the more direct and detailed you can be when providing guidelines, the better pros will appear. Talent appreciates somebody who really knows what they want.
  • Then, illustration artists line around the virtual block to hand you their CVs. That includes a cover letter that lets you know why they’re a great fit, their proposed budget (which should fit your stipulations), and some samples of their work.
  • Finally, you choose the one you like the most out of the list of applicants. You begin a contract, either short or long-term, and you start communicating with the artist in order to give feedback and provide an even more detailed idea of what you want. Once you’re done with the job, you’ll leave each other a great review, and that’ll be it for the time being.

What to Pay Attention to When Hiring

Now, this may all sound easy, but it’s rather more complex in practice. Here are some things you should prioritize when choosing pros from all of the applicants:

Price. Sure, give a chance to the little guys who are just getting their sea legs, but high earners generally get paid the big bucks for a reason. If you don’t really want to pay for the higher echelons, or your budget doesn’t allow you to, don’t fret! You can choose a mix of experience and value. Many pros can offer a great mix of price and value. If you can’t pay for the superstars, aim for the mid-tier guys who can still deliver. Remember: nobody likes a miser.

Prioritize experience. Again, if you have something you can delegate to the unproven talent, great, but don’t jeopardize your project. Always ask illustration artists for proof of their previous job. Bonus points, of course, if they’ve worked on something similar to your current project. Having a proven track record of delivering great results is always a great sign.

The Bunny Studio Way

Bunny Studio is an alternative solution to your illustration artist needs. It’s a vast talent pool like the other freelancing platforms, but it’s got quite a few added perks:

  • Our pros are vetted, so you don’t have to second-guess yourself about making a hire.
  • We only hire pros with previous experience. It’s also super-easy to browse their portfolios so you can see whether they’re what you need.
  • You get unlimited revisions. That means that the job is not over until you say it’s over. Just like that song.
  • If you don’t like the results, you get your money back. Simple.

Basically, we’ve made it so that all the guesswork is taken out of the equation and you can focus on hiring high-quality talent. If you’re looking for the best, then this is definitely the place for you. Give us a call and we’ll sort out any project you throw at us, big or small.