Postgraduate Courses in Illustration

By Gemma Creagh - Last update


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A passion for creating great work across multiple mediums, attention to detail and creative flair which can illuminate everything from graphic novels and comic books, books, billboards and international campaigns. A huge interest in all mediums of art is obviously a requirement for someone looking at postgraduate courses in illustration. As is the ability to be able to create a great piece of illustration. Equally important is an understanding and appreciation for the various mediums (such as paint, clay, watercolor, etc.) that are available and how you can utilise them in the course of developing your skills as an illustrator.

Working as an illustrator requires persistence and tenacity too, and being able to take constructive criticism as well, regardless of if it comes from your peers or your professors. Illustration is an incredibly subjective field, and everyone will have an opinion on your work and how it suits any text or messaging it accompanies. You will learn how to incorporate critiques and suggestions, where applicable, into your work. It’s also very important to be able to keep yourself on schedule when working on projects, and it’ll only become more critical as you transition from studying to working in this demanding but rewarding sector as an illustrator.

Postgraduate Courses in Illustration

Skills You Will Develop

Developing skills as an illustrator require an exacting and self-critical eye as you work to match your skills to suit particular mediums. Postgraduate study in illustration is designed to develop your creative and intellectual abilities through the investigation of a bespoke project aligned to your own particular interests and aspirations as an illustrator. The course is intended to inspire you to consider what area you will specialise in and how you can develop your skills so you will be well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities available within the growing sector of illustration.

What you will learn

Course content varies depending on the length and speciality of the course, but common course content includes:

  • How to liaise with clients, editors, and authors  in order to target your skills and understand and deliver upon their business needs
  • Learning different styles of illustration and how to use appropriate styles
  • How to negotiate deadlines and pricing
  • The specifics of how you understand a brief’s specification
  • The vital importance of thinking imaginatively and creatively
  • How to create images and designs by using the traditional hand skills of drawing and painting
  • How to use computer-aided design (CAD) packages to construct images and scan images and change size, colours and other elements
  • The importance of providing roughs for approval
  • Learning the specifics of running a business and developing new business, particularly when working freelance

Career Pathways in Illustration

Some studios and agencies employ illustrators on a permanent basis, but the majority of illustrators are freelance, working from home or a small studio and negotiating sales via an agent or directly with clients. Some illustrators discover a market for their talents and develop their work for that sector, receiving many commissions, while others may have many rejections before securing work. Pay will vary according to the regularity and scale of commissions and during the early years, regular work may be difficult to obtain. As careers and commissions develop though, illustration is a highly sought after and specific skills, which had gained a new lease of life in the digital marketplace.

And Remember…..

Self-promotion is vital in the competitive world of illustration would make sure you don’t pigeonhole yourself in a narrow field. You will need to be commercially aware and ensure that you follow up your postgraduate study with relevant work experience and/or voluntary work.

 


Gemma Creagh

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