Editorial Illustrator

Illuminating Concepts with Image

Job Description

An editorial illustrator communicates concepts through two-dimensional designs that appear in the context of articles, op-eds, book reviews, and cover art published in newspapers, magazines, and other media. They create both realistic and abstract designs using traditional drawing methods and materials as well as graphic design software. Editorial illustrators often work freelance or in the employment of publishers, working on projects both individually and in collaboration with others.

Experience + Education

Editorial illustrators benefit from art school with focus on fine art or illustration. Practice is key to developing drawing skills and proficiency with graphic design software, and necessary for honing the ability to communicate ideas visually. Reading varied publications and choosing articles to illustrate is a great way to exercise this skill while building a portfolio of work. When an artist is ready to solicit for jobs, sending hard copies of work to editors will help to spread the word about your skills. Hard copies help to make a more lasting impression that an emailed portfolio or link.

Salary + Location

Editorial illustrators often work freelance, but it is helpful to live in the vicinity of publishing companies where work is more plentiful. In the US most publishers are located in the major cities listed below. Next to each is the average salary for an editorial illustrator working in that city:

  • New York - $64K
  • Boston - $67K
  • San Francisco - $72K
  • Los Angeles - $57K
  • Austin - $50K
  • Houston - $60K

Professional Organizations

Joining professional organizations is especially important for freelancers. Networking can lead to jobs and can help you to form a support system in your field. Consider becoming a member of one or more of the organizations listed below:

  • Association of Illustrators (AOI)
  • Graphic Artists' Guild
  • The Illustrators Partnership of America
  • American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA)