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10 Things I have Learnt As An Illustrator

Updated: Mar 6, 2022

10 simple tips for illustrators and pattern designers to succeed in business.


I’m in my 10th year of business as an illustrator and I have literally no idea where that time has gone. One things is certain, I’ve grown up a little over the years, and I wanted to share a little of my own wisdom that I’ve accumulated with you, wherever you may be on your journey. 1. It’s a marathon not a sprint I say this not to put anyone off, but it’s something to be reminded of frequently. 2. Hone Your Craft Whatever that may be, get good at it. 3. Connect Networking doesn’t have to be boring. Messaging your peers, joining Facebook groups etc are some simple and fun ways to stay connected within the industry. 4. Forget The Numbers This is a work in progress for me, but something I’m trying to be more mindful of. Counting my success by the numbers on my social is not why I create art. 5. Build a Mailing List It’s important to try and collect your own database of emails including people you have worked with, would like to with and even customers if you have a shop. Imagine if all social media just one day didn’t exist. At least you have that database of email contacts as a safety net. I’ve recently split my list so that Art Directors receive a different email to this one with new work. Be sure to get permission to add names first. 6. Diversify Your Income Sell on Print in Demand sites, design greeting cards or sell fabric. You can write an ebook or teach. I wrote a BLOG POST all about this subject which is worth a read. 7. Stop Being Precious About Sketchbooks My sketchbooks are messy and are filled with notes and scribbles. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to keep a beautiful sketchbook like some illustrators can. 8. Update Your Portfolio As I was just reminded recently, potential clients do not want to visit your website one year only to revisit again the next year and for it to look exactly the same. Switch a few pieces out for some fresh art and it will look brand new (I’m off to do this soon myself) 9. Remember to Rest Take evenings off when and if you can, stop hustling and just be still. If you get a chance to go away, do it. If not, just take some alone time often and try and look after yourself. 10. Never Stop Learning Some of my favourite places to learn are Make Art That Sells, Skillshare and Domestika. Even if it’s an unrelated subject. I’ve got my eye on an embroidery class right now.

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