Since you first added pencil to paper as a toddler, you’ve loved drawing and now you are in the envious position of having turned your passion and talent into your career. How many people wish they could say the same? You know you’re an illustrator when…

…you forget how bright the sun is because you spend so much time indoors

blinded by the sun

Whether it’s deadlines or your slight OCD, you’re probably working around the clock and barely see daylight, yes? That amount of focus makes you sometimes genuinely wonder what’s real and what isn’t. Concentrating all your energy on an imagined world, strange figures and bright colours can confuse matters… Though in reality, this hibernation (if you like) is necessary because you’re focused on the project in hand – and that focus is a vital attribute for illustrators. You can’t afford to be distracted. Literally, you can’t or you won’t get paid.

…your Wacom tablet becomes an extension of your arm

wacom tablet is an extension of your arm

There are a great many tools in the illustrator’s armoury and the chances are that you have more paints, pens and sketchbooks than you’ll even be able to use. That said, there are some tools which you simply can’t do without – and the Wacom tablet is widely considered among the illustrator community as one of the best. Well-made and easy to use, Wacoms don’t come cheap, but they do offer a budget line which is popular with students, and there’s always the option of leasing a full spec model. Most illustrators will say they can’t do with it.

…your sketchbook is your best friend

Sketchbook is your best friend

With you at all times, your sketchbook is both an essential and fiercely personal tool. You never know when inspiration may strike and you need to capture an idea or scene with your Staedtler pencil. To the untrained eye, it might look like pages of scribbles but that’s why you won’t show anyone what’s in it. Ever. That and the fact that you’re a total perfectionist and never happy with your own work.

…you can’t stop admiring the nicely illustrated menu when having dinner out with friends

Beautiful menus

If you do ever escape the house, you find yourself always seeking out illustrations. Ready to order? Oops, you were appreciating the work that went into that beautifully-designed menu or the poster on the wall or simply the chalk-drawn curlicues on the specials board. No matter where you go, your eye is always caught by other people’s illustrations – sometimes with envy, sometimes with a sense of smug self-satisfaction (you can do far better than that). Though do hurry up and decide what you want to eat.

…you’ve developed a skin thicker than an elephant

Thick as elephant skin

As we’ve said, your work is intensely personal. You spend hours and hours and hours creating an image, so when a client turns around with ‘suggestions’, it can be more than just a little grating. You’ve had no choice but to develop a thick skin; sometimes the client is just going to be picky. Or maybe you’ve had to endure rejections before finally someone hires you. However, having a thick skin is what allows you to bounce back, to continue and to finally achieve your goals.

…when the happiest day in your life is seeing your own work in a shop window

Own work in the shop window

All that work – the hours, the revisions suggested by the client – it all fades away when you see your creation in a public place; be it online, a poster or a book in the window at Waterstone’s. This is why you do it. Illustrating is more important to you than winning the lottery. You love what you do or you wouldn’t do it, right? Plus you’re pretty darned good at it!


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