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Logo for the school of illustration online course 'Breaking into the Illustration Industry'.



We've seen this problem countless times - artists have a killer portfolio and a wealth of talent but they just don't know how to make those first steps into the industry.  How do I approach clients?  What kind of markets are my illustrations suited to? How do I promote myself?


Well here’s the solution!  In this course we demystify the world of commercial illustration with a comprehensive overview of how it all works and how to find your place in it. We walk you through all the basics of being a successful professional illustrator, from training and qualifications, market sectors and self promotion, to agency and self representation, pricing and the commission process from start to finish.


Learning is brought to life with real world examples and behind the scenes stories from our own careers, plus a bank of easy-to-follow tasks enabling you to put your newfound knowledge and skills into practice so you can get out there and make your mark as an illustrator!


Who is this course for?

This beginner level course is suitable for: 

The illustration-curious

Career changers 

Graduate and early career illustrators who need a kickstart to launch into industry

School or college students researching career options 

A commercial illustration studio at the school of illustration.


Bitesize lecture-style videos breaking down the foundational principles of how the illustration industry works, the role of the freelance illustrator, and how to find your place as a professional in this creative commercial landscape.

Freelance Illustrator Nick Moffatt at work in his illustration studio.

Module 1 - Defining Illustration

·    What illustration actually is (*spoiler* - it’s not just drawing!)

·    The role of the freelance illustrator

·    The commercial opportunities available to freelance illustrators

Module 2 - Niches and Specialisms

·    Niches and specialisms available within the illustration industry

·    How to choose the right niche or niches as an illustrator

·    Balancing specialisation with flexibility and adaptability

Module 3 - Qualifications Vs Experience

·    Exploring your options for degree and postgraduate level study

·    Taking a ‘self taught’ route into illustration

·    The pros and cons of both paths, and how to make a decision that is right for you

·    Why a good portfolio is essential


Module 4 – Agents

·    Different types of illustration agencies

·    The pros and cons of agency representation 

·    Questions to ask a prospective agent

Module 5 - Industry Structures

·    Differing industry structures across a range of illustration market sectors

·    The role of the freelance illustrator within these structures

·    The importance of correctly pricing your work

Module 6 - The Commission Process

·    How to win commissions as a freelance illustrator

·    How to successfully complete a commission, from brief to final artwork

·    Best practice for illustrators 


Hours of video case studies and insider insight based on our own experiences as commercial illustrators

Another series of bitesize videos to accompany each Creative Fundamentals module, but more informal and chatty, kinda like a seminar.  These videos contextualise the module content, exploring real life examples and sharing behind the scenes stories from our own careers to deepen your understanding. Topics include:

  • Our personal journeys into the industry and how we found our path

  • What your most important assets are beyond just being able to draw

  • How we found agency representation

  • How the commission process works - from contacting clients to delivering the final artwork


Downloadable documents and tasks to help you on your journey and put the course into practice

A treasure trove of focused tasks to help you put what you’ve learnt into practice!  This can sometimes be the hardest part of the learning process but our easy-to-follow prompts make it a breeze.  Our tasks help you to apply your newfound knowledge and sharpen your skills to reflect, plan and take action to craft your dream illustration career.


Tasks include:​

  • Client Tracker – create your own bespoke client database

  • Identify your market niches – define and analyse potential commercial avenues for your work

  • Submission template emails – take the stress out of contacting clients with our ready to go email guides

  • Critical reflection – helping you make the decisions that are right for you 

A selection of books on Illustration in the school of illustration studio.
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