Illustrators provide their artistic talents to a range of clients, including advertising agencies, publishers, stock image services, web content providers, and other businesses.

As a freelance illustrator, you can take your skills in a number of directions. You might work for advertising agencies, stock image houses, magazine or book publishers, record labels, greeting card companies, digital properties, merchandisers, or other businesses. Some illustrators serve such narrow specialty niches as courtroom sketch artists, or niches in fashion, medicine, or technology. Or you might primarily work in fine art to be sold to customers directly or through galleries or agents.

What are the costs involved in opening a illustration business?

The good news is that you’ll probably not need a studio or employees at first. Your overhead will be rather low. However, since a great deal of illustration work today is done digitally, you’ll need to invest in technology. Here’s how your main startup costs might break down.

Hardware -$2,000 or higher. This includes a computer, a printer, a scanner, and a digital camera. You might already have some of this equipment, and some might be unnecessary to how you do business, but the investment will most like fall in this price range.
Software -$1,000 or less. Again, your needs will depend on the work you take on, but some of the general must-haves of illustration can be found in the Adobe Creative Cloud bundle for around $600 a year.
Art supplies -$500 or less. These are the non-digital tools of your trade, and can include brushes, markers, paint, canvas, or whatever other materials you use.
Marketing -A few hundred dollars and up. This covers your website and portfolio, as well as promotional mailings and social media.

What are the ongoing expenses for a illustration business?

Once you’ve stocked up on your hardware, software, and supplies, your ongoing expenses will be few. You might spend a few hundred dollars on self-promotion or on transportation costs to get to appointments if you’re meeting clients in person.

Other than that, your only costs are likely to be whatever you’ll need to live on until your revenue grows to the point where you can support yourself. This is a good argument for starting your business slowly, maintaining a full-time job and moonlighting to serve a few clients until your business grows to the point where you can operate without an outside paycheck.

Who is the target market?

Anyone who has a need for and an interest in your art. This might be commercial clients from your chosen areas of expertise or consumers who admire your artistic talents.

How does a illustration business make money?

You’ll charge a fee for your business that’s often based on your estimation of hours to complete the job. Some clients will let you quote an hourly rate, but most will want to hear a flat fee.

How much profit can a illustration business make?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has a category called Fine Artists, including Painters, Sculptors and Illustrators, and lists a mean annual wage of $57,410 for that category. BLS also lists Graphic Designers, a related field, at an annual mean wage of almost $48,000. Of course, your earnings will only be l

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