Illustrators are creative people with strong drawing, sketching, and/or painting skills. But jobs for illustrators often require specific computer software skills and responsibilities that seem to have nothing to do with art.
Job options are surprisingly varied, but there is lots of competition. You need a good, well-crafted resume to help get your application to the top of the pile. We’ve put a full sample together to help you.
Resume objective for illustrators
Nowadays you don’t have to include a resume objective when applying for a job as an illustrator. But it’s not difficult to put a compelling objective together, and it can be the make or break of getting noticed.
But how can you draw attention to yourself in just a few lines?
One not-so-secret key to writing a good objective for an illustrator job is to use powerful adjectives that help you stand apart from the crowd. We scanned numerous job postings for illustrators and noticed some that recur constantly.
The adjectives we identified include: Excellent, talented, responsive, confident, productive, reliable, creative, imaginative, motivated, organized, and extraordinarily awesome!
Companies are looking for illustrators with experience who can do specific jobs. In addition to personal talent, like hand sketching or painting, they often want illustrators who are highly proficient in specified computer applications like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
When you write your resume objective, take care to incorporate all the skills and abilities you have that meet the requirements and specifications of the job.
As an example, we have crafted a resume objective for a company advertising for a graphic designer and illustrator for book design and print and internet design work.
Experienced graphic designer and illustrator with a wide range of skills. Specialized in book-cover design for five years. Superb attention to detail. Traditional illustration skills as well as Adobe Suite including Illustrator. HTML editing. Thrives in a fast-paced environment.
Resume skills for illustrators
Illustrators are creative people with enviable artistic skills. But specific skills required for jobs do vary. For instance, one job might require strong sketching skills while another values the ability to work in design programs like the Adobe Creative Suite, Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign.
Make sure you include computer skills. Recruiters might assume you don’t have these if they aren’t mentioned.
According to the Joseph Meyer Center for Career Development at the Maryland Institute of Art when building a resume it is important to tailor your resume so that the skills you highlight are in keeping with the skills required for the job you are applying for.
They point out that illustrators shouldn’t list skills that aren’t relevant for the job they are applying for. You need to focus on the skills that will market you as the best person for the job.
You are a creative person, so show your creativity and personality when you list your skills. Your skills should show the person sifting through what is likely to be a pile of applications, at a glance, what value you will bring to their team.
Remember to add soft skills too, like communication and the ability to meet deadlines.
Excellent drawing and computer skills | Creativity and imagination | Focused | An eye for detail | Problem-solving | Storyboard creation | Adobe Creative Suite | Microsoft Office Suite | 3D design software
Illustrator work experience
Work experience is vital. It can be tough getting a job as an illustrator if you don’t have work experience or you’ve only worked for one employer for a short time.
Internships are a good way to get work experience. Short-term freelance jobs can also be added to your resume, but be sure to state which jobs were freelance to avoid the misconception of job-hopping.
Adrienne Burke, a senior recruiter who has placed creative talent including illustrators for more than five years, likes to see where they have worked so she can evaluate the relevance of their work experience to the job advertised.
She believes that where you’ve worked is more important to recruiters than what you’ve worked on.
Marti Stites, the owner of artLinks, a recruitment and placement agency based in California that specializes in creative talent, emphasizes the need to include the dates and places worked.
When you list your work experience be sure to highlight any of your illustrator achievements. These could be anything from winning an award, creating original artwork for books or internet sites, or working with prestigious clients.
Sample Work Experience
The Branding Company
Digital illustrator/designer, 2015 – 2020
Worked collaboratively with the creative team translating concepts and expanding the creative direction of retail brands and big-name entertainment products. Developed project concepts into compelling, visual solutions for branding and integrated programs.
- Worked under the direction of the marketing team utilizing style guides and finding creative solutions for graphic communication challenges
- Juggled conceptual illustration design with mechanical design and production processes
- Consulted with Jabber Media Productions and designed more than 20 storyboards for them
- Won an award for the best branding on gaming packaging in 2019
Revance Health Company
Illustrator, 2011 – 2014
Contributed to the design team in terms of concepts, illustration, and digital painting. Created a wide variety of original 2D artwork and concepts for characters. Undertook research and created trend guides to support concepts and projects.
- Worked with the marketing department to develop artwork for product campaigns
- Introduced current pop culture trends into my work
- Developed key art images that were used in packaging for ABC health products
- Created several new styles and techniques for illustrations that were used for company clients
Illustrator/Animator Intern, 2011
Provided support to the company’s operations team. Planned key scenes and characters. Executed illustrations and animations. Collaborated with art and creative directors and the studio artist.
- Included in weekly brainstorming ideas with the operations team
- Designed 3 websites that incorporated 3D animation
- Contributed ideas for a successful company pitch for incorporating 3D animation into a television series
- Offered a full-time position as an illustrator/animator
Education and training for illustrators vary immensely.
There are no formal academic requirements for illustrators other than a high school, trade, or industrial school diploma or general education development (GED) certification. Some very successful illustrators are self-taught in terms of drawing and digital skills.
However, many artists who want to become illustrators do opt for university degrees to make it easier to get jobs in the industry and to further their careers and make more money.
Generally, any formal degree or diploma programs will provide illustrators with the necessary technical knowledge and experience required to get a good job in the industry.
Degrees range from associate to master’s levels. Popular options include a bachelor’s degree in fine arts/illustration or a diploma in art and design. They are available at schools and universities, and online.
While there is no doubt that a degree and postgraduate courses in subjects like children’s book illustration or graphic design are beneficial, many employers value aptitude, artistic abilities, and the relevant experience above qualifications.
Certainly, career progression can be achieved by specializing in a particular area.
Savannah College of Art and Design
Bachelor’s & Master’s in Illustration, 2016 – 2019
Academy of Art University School of Illustration
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Illustration degree, 2014 – 2017
Certificate in Illustration, 2018
Illustrators who don’t take the degree or diploma options often take courses to improve their skills and hone their talents. Courses also look good on an illustrator resume.
These range from drawing and illustration design to courses that teach how to work with computer software applications like Adobe Illustrator for creating drawings, illustrations, and other artwork.
There are also courses for graduates who want to specialize in children’s book illustrations for example.
The Udemy online learning platform has basic illustration courses. Lynda, which charges for membership, offers a series of classes that focus on illustrator skills. Skillshare, another membership-based site, also offers courses on illustration.
- Adobe Illustrator
- Pen and Ink Illustration (Skillshare)
- Digital Illustration (Udemy)
Certifications aren’t a big deal for illustrators but it is possible to become certified by Adobe using Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. These certifications not only ensure you are 100% proficient using the software, they also tell employers and recruiters that you are an expert in the industry.
Once you have mastered Illustrator, you can apply to do the entry-level certification, Adobe Certificate Associate (ACA). Then, if you wish, you can take the advanced exam to become an Adobe Certified Expert (ACE).
The exams must be done with an Adobe Certified Authorized Testing Center.
The ACA exam is mostly technical and about 25% theoretical, and you have 50 minutes to answer 39 questions. The required pass is 70%.
Because medical illustrations are so specialized, the international Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) offers certification in medical illustration.
To be certified, you need to be a member of AMI, and they generally only admit illustrators with a relevant bachelor’s degree. Board certification by the AMI must be renewed every five years.
There is nothing to stop you from working as a medical illustrator if you aren’t certified although employers will be more impressed if you are.
- Certified Associate Graphic Design & Illustration Illustrator – ACA & ACE
- AMI certified medical illustrator
Complete illustrator resume sample
We scoured relevant websites to find resumes and job postings that offered exciting opportunities for illustrators and chose this one offered by a leading video production company in Hollywood.
As you will see, the position is for artists and illustrators to participate in digital marketing, web design, and video production projects. They will also be involved with story-boarding of motion graphics.
There is not a lot of information in the advert, and it doesn’t request information about education, qualifications, or experience. It does, though, direct applicants to their website where there is additional info about the company and what they do.
We have crafted this sample resume according to the advice we have provided above. Never be tempted to leave out information just because it isn’t requested!
Artist & Illustrator
Talented illustrator with a passion for motion graphics and animated design. Extensive experience doing computer animation, storyboard creation, and live video production. Comprehensive computer skills including 3D design software and Adobe Creative Suite.
Infographics | Website videos and graphics | Whiteboard animation | Deadline & timeframes | Detail-orientated | Broad artistic skills | S& Imaging | Illustration & animation design |Team player
Animator and Motion Designer, 2018 – 2020
Created motion graphics for a wide variety of projects. Supported day-to-day animation needs of the company and took responsibility for the creation and maintenance of animation assets for dozens of clients.
- Worked with world-class developers and artists on numerous interactive projects
- Created new templates, style guides, tutorials, and animation ops
- Worked with a creative toolkit that included After Effects, Premiere, Lightroom, Photoshop, Illustrator, Cinema 4D, and Harmony
- Won a medal for my entry to the Advertising and Institutional Exhibit in the Society for Illustrators annual exhibition in 2019
Multimedia Illustrator, 2017 – 2018
Produced graphic artwork for army publications. Created illustrations, layout, and overlays used for advertising. Produced computer-generated graphics and drew cartoons for animation and movies in collaboration with TV and film producers.
- Completed the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery prior to starting the job
- Designed and launched a new website that incorporated 3D animation and live-action videos to tell the Army Story
- Designed backdrops that were used in about six different film sets
- Won the best Former Soldier Multimedia Award in 2018
Design Intern, 2016
Assisted the design team with the creative elements of web design for company clients. Communicated creative ideas to associates and team members.
- Worked in Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator
- Brainstormed multiple new projects with the company’s design team
- Was encouraged to work alone on several projects
- Didn’t miss one of more than 30 deadlines during my internship
- ACA in Graphic Design & Illustration using Adobe Illustrator
Savannah College of Art and Design
MFA in Illustration, 2018 (online)
Academy of Art University School of Illustration
BFA, 2013 – 2016
- Digital Painting (Sinixdesign)
- Digital Photography
However much or however little information is called for in a job post, you need to tailor your resume to show that you have exactly what it takes to make the job a success.
The complete illustrator resume sample above shows how important it is to check out company websites before completing your resume. They sometimes hold the ultimate key to what a company is looking for that isn’t specified in the job description advertised.
- Illustrators are creatives who need all kinds of skills for a wide variety of illustrator jobs. Be aware of the specific skills, talents, and abilities the job you want has specified, and mention these in your resume.
- Illustrators don’t need to be certified, but there are a few certifications that are offered, including those that show you are able to use certain software professionally. If you have the skills, get the certification.
- As an illustrator, you don’t need formal education, but it does help to get better jobs. Even if you don’t have a degree, embrace the opportunities available to you and do courses to better what you have to offer. Ultimately, it will help you to increase your work experience and will look good on your resume.
Tips from Experts
“Do not list skills or copious details that are not relevant to your audience. A resume is not your full history but a marketing piece for the parts that are relevant.” – Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Career Development at the Maryland Institute College of Art
“With illustration back in popularity, all kinds of different illustrators are honing their craft and entering the market, from Adobe Illustrator experts to Photoshop pros to Sketch pioneers. With so many fields, it’s hard for an illustrator to get hired on their technical skill alone. To get noticed and hired, illustrators need soft skills that make them even more desirable to clients.” Ellie Martin, HR.com
“It is essential to prepare a sound portfolio of work that can be used to demonstrate abilities.” – Career advisor at Target Jobs, UK
Being creative is what you do best!
There is no stopping the power of creativity, so make sure you’re at full throttle when you craft your next illustrator resume.
But just as you need soft and hard skills to make a successful all-round illustrator, you also need to highlight your full range of talents, skills, and experience. Use the advice we have provided in this article to create the best possible resume to market you as a winner in the world of illustrations.