Get into book il­lus­tra­tion: ten tips

Art di­rec­tors and suc­cess­ful cover artists pass on their hard-earned in­dus­try ad­vice.

ImagineFX - - Contents -

Yes, they’ll tell you that fan­tasy and sci-fi il­lus­tra­tion had its hey­day in the 1970s, when the mar­ket for pulp pa­per­backs was still boom­ing. And who hasn’t heard that print is dead and ebooks are ap­par­ently killing off those good-old bound edi­tions? So, it’s a ter­ri­ble time to get into book il­lus­tra­tion, right?

The an­swer to that is a re­sound­ing “No!” Yes, there has been a swing to ebooks. But pub­lish­ing in­dus­try fig­ures tell us that, un­like in the mu­sic in­dus­try, the dig­i­tal mar­ket has plateaued some­where around 30 or 40 per cent. Peo­ple still love to buy and col­lect fan­tasy and science fic­tion books. And they love it all the more when they can get their hands on copies with stunning jacket art­work. The in­dus­try needs skilled il­lus­tra­tors whose images are so amaz­ing that fans can’t help but pick up the books when they browse the book­shelves. Equally, that art­work also has to get them click­ing thumb­nails when they’re surf­ing Ama­zon.

How­ever, the avail­abil­ity of paint­ing soft­ware and graph­ics tablets means there are more artists who are busy cre­at­ing fan­tasy and sci-fi art­work than ever. They’re shar­ing it on­line and this means there are tens or even hun­dreds of thou­sands of po­ten­tial book il­lus­tra­tors out there ready to sa­ti­ate the needs of art di­rec­tors at the big pub­lish­ing houses. But not all of them have what you have.

No, they don’t all have copies of Imag­ineFX in their hands (fools!), and they’re not read­ing this very ar­ti­cle on how to make it in book il­lus­tra­tion. Read on, heed the ad­vice of the ex­perts we’ve spo­ken to, and give your ca­reer a boost…


Fan­tasy and sci-fi book illustrator Dave See­ley’s own art book, fea­tur­ing his great­est work, will be out in Septem­ber.


Fan­tasy illustrator Todd Lock­wood loves work­ing on cov­ers that fea­ture a dragon – and it shows on this cover for a JF Lewis novel.

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