Many folks ask me what my profession is. I tend to hesitate when I say I'm an illustrator--not because I'm embarrassed, but because it just takes so much effort to explain, or defend my career. For some reason, my response often gets a look that is a mix between "is she serious?" and "what is that?" Sometimes, I just get "but what is your job?"
It's understandable. It's not as common to go off the paved roads, into a thicket of fog. I'm learning to just focus on my work, and have my accomplishments speak for me, but for now, here's some Illustration 101:
What does an illustrator do?
Well, to state the obvious, they illustrate. Yes. They are artists who create drawings that are used commercially. I paint with a reason, with an end goal.
Illustrators can choose to specialize in one single field. Editorial, (those illustrations you see in The New Yorker, for example.) Or fashion. Even medical. All you pre-med students studying those textbooks full of anatomical diagrams–medical illustrators!
They can also choose multiple outlets for their canvas. Whether it be advertising, childrens' books, or textiles.
So what is my job?
I personally came into this field when I realized I needed art, but also wanted to help/motivate others. So I chose to begin with stationery illustration. I founded Bright & Blue Designs, and focused on creating paper goods with happy and encouraging messages. I create products that are available for retail and also wholesale! Within this realm of illustration, I am the creator of the goods, as well as the salesperson, the marketing team, the website developer, the shipping manager, and the accounts department. Which is why I'm at art markets and shows as much as I can be, and why if you follow me, you'll see my work on Instagram, facebook, twitter, and my website.
I am also a published children's illustrator. I have illustrated cover art as well as all interior illustrations for a coloring book titled "Draw Near to God." I am working towards illustrating-as well as writing–picture books with a meaningful story. Within this realm of illustration, I work with art directors, editors, and publishing houses, to get my book acquired, and hopefully published. Or they see my style of work and can hire me for a project that needs my illustrations.
Along with these two realms, the great thing about being an illustrator is that there are many, many possibilities. You like my art and want a mural, sure! You want custom stationery? I've done many! You want a logo illustrated? Or an editorial piece– email me, we can definitely talk!
Teaching Artist By Day, Doodler by Night
Many illustrators also have side gigs. Many become teaching artists, either as professors for college classes, or workshops at studios. I chose to become a teaching artist for young kids. I work with two beautiful community art spaces to provide arts and craft lessons to children under the age of 12. I am writing and illustrating for young kids, so who better to hang out with, while teaching fun stuff!
The best moment of this realm came recently, when a parent told me that I have been so helpful for her child, that his frustration level has decreased and his confidence has increased. It was such a gratifying feeling knowing that a couple of hours a week have been so beneficial for a 7 year old, and I hope he carries this with him into the future.