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How to hire a great Illustrator - 5 top tips

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While many of the creative arts have been shaped and moulded by the passage of time and the gentle thrum of technology, illustration is, at its core, still the same art form that it was hundreds of years ago. It’s also an incredibly transferrable skill and one that is held in high regard across the creative spectrum.

What or who is an illustrator?

While computers might have changed the way we create, there is always going to be room for those who can wield a pen, pencil or paintbrush with skill and that’s true in all creative sectors - from advertising to film making and everywhere in-between.

An illustrator is an artist that can weave a tapestry of creative intent with little more than a few brush strokes and a rough pencil outline. They are the ones bringing ideas to life through a variety of mediums but always utilising original ideas in their own distinct style. They work with clients to turn ideas and concepts into inspiring illustrations that tell stories and turn businesses into brands.

How to find and hire the right creative director

If your agency, studio or one-off project is in need of a skilled illustrator to hire, there are literally thousands to choose from on Creativepool alone. Whittling down the right pair of hands to visualise your concepts and ideas and finding the best illustrator for your needs means asking yourself and your potential candidates the right questions.

1. What’s your style?

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This is something that should be apparent from a perusal of their portfolio (on that note, if they don’t have a decent portfolio then you’ll probably want to look elsewhere). Take a look at their previous pieces of work and see how they gel with the style you’re looking for. That doesn’t mean you should completely discount an illustrator with a distinct style that doesn’t match your own though. If you ask, they might be pretty enthused by the idea of escaping their comfort zone.

2. How do you work?

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For many freelance illustrators, working from home has been a way of life for many years and the pandemic has made the idea of remote work more palatable for more of us. So, on a practical level, if they are more comfortable working from home than coming into the office and riffing ideas with the team it shouldn’t be an issue. That is, of course, unless that’s how you want to work. You should ensure you’re both on the same page as far as working conditions are concerned before pressing further.

3. Do you even digital? 

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Yes, I understand I spend the opening lines of this very article espousing the “ancient art of illustration” but that doesn’t mean modern illustrators can’t adapt to the times. There are hundreds of tools available for illustrators that allow them to utilise their computers as digital canvases, either using bespoke digital drawing tablets or even ‘smart pens’ on iPads and other options such as the Windows Surface range. If a lot of your work is going to be in the digital domain, it’s probably important that the illustrator you choose is well versed in digital drawing.

4. Do you work well with others?

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Even if they are working freelance and working remotely, if the illustrator is being brought on board as part of a team then how they work with other people in that team is going to be a major concern. Are they happy to take constructive criticism? And are they open to collaboration and taking on the ideas of others where necessary? Not everyone is great at working with others so it’s an important question to ask.

5. Have you done this kind of work before?

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Finding illustrators isn’t difficult but finding illustrators experienced in your field is another matter entirely. While the illustrator you’re courting might have ticked all of the boxes above, if they have never illustrated an advertising campaign or a children’s book or an instruction manual before (or whatever it is you’re asking of them) then you might be taking a bit of a risk. Of course, everybody deserves a chance and everybody needs a first time but ask yourself if you want to risk being the first? It’s a risk, for sure, but sometimes it’s the risks that make our creative industries so damn exciting, right?

To hire the perfect illustrator for your project, you’ll find thousands of skilled illustrators on Creativepool ready to bring your ideas to life.

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