Being a freelance illustrator requires creativity, reliability, flexibility, critical thinking, and the list goes on.
But after more than twenty years of experience, I know that one attribute is crucial for success or failure in this dream job: efficiency.
The illustrator is not an artist. She is a creative service provider in a fast industry operating around the clock. An illustrator can create the most brilliant work. But if she can’t deliver it on time for the print deadline, it has failed in its function.
For young, motivated illustrators who dream of making a living from their drawings, I’d like to suggest three tips to increase efficiency dramatically.
Digital image editing programs – Whether it’s Photoshop, Affinity Designer, or Procreate. Here you can prepare all illustrations from the first sketch to the final print file. Even if you work analog with pen and paper, the programs help you to quickly fulfill change requests or offer the client several color variations, for example. Scan, adjust, and send.
Graphics tablets – Drawing and navigating the screen and programs becomes more effortless than using a mouse. It doesn’t have to be the largest and most expensive tablet. DIN A5 format is perfectly sufficient for starters. At first, it’s about getting a feeling for the new way of working. After all, it is unfamiliar to look at the screen while drawing. I still remember the first two days. I thought I would never be able to handle it. But then it went fast, and I’ve never used a mouse since. Wacom, for example, offers a great selection and excellent quality.
Shortcuts – The sooner you get used to shortcuts in programs, the better. The time we save with you is enormous—a real booster for our productivity.