Three fantastic tips to help newly graduated illustrators make it in the creative industry.

We share with you some great advice for making it in the creative industry from our very own stellar illustrator Adam Stower. Adam has recently collaborated with international best-selling author David Walliams and has also written and illustrated his own award winning series King Coo.

Top Tip Number 1 - Draw

This is an obvious tip to give any aspiring illustrator, but it should be underlined. Feed your passion for drawing. Do it every day. Practice drawing from your imagination and from observation - each of these activities will feed the other. Never stop exploring the art of drawing and making pictures. Give yourself time to try new techniques and different mediums. Have fun and play. This will keep your work fresh and exciting. I continue to learn every time I put pen to paper. An ability to draw well and with confidence is the best foundation for a career as an illustrator.

For me, I illustrate children’s fiction and picture books, so I practice drawing all sorts of characters - people, animals and creatures. I am interested in making each of them their own person with their unique traits and nuances. To do this, I spend time people watching - drawing passers-by and taking note of their dress, their forms, their movement. I enjoy it very much and it feeds my professional work constantly.

Top Tip Number 2 - Be Professional

It is important to be a team player. Even as a freelance illustrator you will always be a part of a team, whether that is a single commissioning editor or a group of art directors and designers and editors. In children’s publishing it takes many people to make a book. Be friendly, meet your deadlines and accommodate feedback and criticism of your work. You are more likely to be commissioned again if you are an asset rather than a problem. Having said that, do feel confident to push back against requests to amend your illustrations if you feel you have an alternative to offer that might address their demands but also satisfy you. Remember that YOU are the professional illustrator and your vision and opinion has value. Just be nice about it and always work with your team rather than against them. They will love you :)

Top Tip Number 3 - Keep Going

 In my experience, life as a freelance illustrator has been one of feast and famine. It is the nature of the industry. Keep making beautiful work, even during times when you are not working on a commissioned job. Develop your own voice in your work. Be inspired by others but find your unique way of expressing yourself. You will stand out from the crowd. Stay interested - be curious - visit galleries, watch films, read, travel - feed your creative soul and keep the batteries fully charged. Your work will be richer and more YOU.
In my early career I illustrated everything from Maths textbooks to wine labels. Fiction is my passion, but it took a while to get there, and the jobs along the way taught me how to work to a brief and to a deadline, and it challenged me to work out of my comfort zone. It has all helped. Now I work almost exclusively in children’s fiction, writing and illustrating my own books and illustrating for other authors too. I love it. If you aspire to be an illustrator, work hard, have faith and keep going. It’s a wonderful job.

With huge thanks to Karl Foster at London College of Communication and Adam Stower.


To find out more about Adam and his work you can find him on Instagram and Twitter, you can also view his recently updated online portfolio over on our website.

If you have questions about breaking in to the creative industry, our team would be more than happy to answer your questions via our Instagram account.

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