How to become a professional illustrator


Share advice in conjunction with the AOI Business Masterclass


1. Self-Promotion

  • Create an additional professional account: personal website, email, social accounts
  • Domain names can be found at:

–  Web:

          –  Mail: info/

          –  Ins:@yourname

This is good advice and I do the same:

–  Web: xiaoweitao. com

–  Mail:

–  Ins: @xiaoweitao

  • Suggestions for designing the website:

–  Keep it simple and functional

–  Must work on mobile/tablet

–  Clear contact page


2. Establishing collaborations

  • Research the industry: find the right field for you.
  • Create your dream client list and market yourself.

Here are the two directions I have chosen: I will then carry out in-depth research:

–  Artistic illustration (commercials, products and packaging, publications)

–  Picture books and children’s illustration (publications, children’s brands, products and packaging)



3. Copyright of works

  • Building awareness of copyright in your work.
  • Know something about the law relating to copyright.


–  Copyright laws vary from country to country and it is advisable to clarify the legal attribution in the contract.

–  Protect your work on the internet to prevent theft.


Here are some suggestions

–  Low resolution files (72dpi) and your name as part of the file name

–  Illustrations © Your Name 2020

   On website/folio site/social media

–  Read Terms and Conditions of Website/Social Media image use/filenames



4. Commercial Contracts

A proven commercial contract provides binding, certainty and professionalism.
The AOI team has provided a template contract.Contains: The content and format of the contract, and the division of rights



5. Quotations and income

The AOI team has given a proposal which I think can be used as an initial income target for all graduates and as a criterion for assessing income levels.

    • 1-3 years after graduation aim for Illustration as Sole income

–  Living Wage is £18,700 – so think of this as minimum

–  Starting freelance illustrators/designers 1-3 years after graduation: £20-25K


The AOl would like to see illustrators working predominantly earning at least:

    • Editorial £20,000
    • Advertising £35,000
    • Publishing £25,000
    • Products/Packaging £22,000
    • Corporate £25,000
    • Across a variety of areas £30,000.


6. AOI Membership

I think AOI membership is a good option if you want to develop your career in the UK or become an international professional illustrator. It provides us with more information and resources about the illustration industry.


Q & A

1. How long before we can get the student discount for joining?
2. Can I get referrals from agencies or clients if I join?


the AOI Business Masterclass



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