Exploring this Job
You can explore this field by taking drawing classes both at school and through local organizations such as community centers. Also, consider joining a school art club. These clubs will give you the opportunity to meet with others who share your interests, and they sometimes sponsor talks or meetings with professionals. Join the staff of the school yearbook, newspaper, or literary magazine. These publications often make use of visual art to accompany their text. Look for part-time or summer work at an art supply store, or assisting a professional artist. This work experience will give you the opportunity to become familiar with many “tools of the trade.” Explore your interest in the fashion field by reading fashion magazines that will keep you up to date on fashion trends, models, and illustrators’ work. Try drawing or sewing your own fashion creations. If you can’t find work at an art store, try getting a job at a clothing store. This will give you experience working with people and clothes, and you might even be able to suggest fashion advice to customers.
Talk with fashion illustrators about their careers. Ask them what they like and dislike about their jobs, how they training for the field, and what you should do now to prepare for a career in fashion illustration.
Illustrators can work in any of several different areas of the fashion field. They provide artwork to accompany editorial pieces in magazines such as Glamour, Redbook, and Seventeen and trade journals such as Women’s Wear Daily. Catalog companies employ fashion illustrators to provide the artwork that sells their merchandise through print or online publications.
Fashion illustrators work with fashion designers, editors, and models. They make sketches from designers’ notes or they may sketch live models during runway shows or other fashion presentations. They may use pencils, pen and ink, charcoal, paint, airbrush, computer technology, or a combination of media.
While illustrators must be artistically talented (able to visualize designs, use colors, and create style), they must also be adept at using technologies such as software programs to create and edit illustrations.
Fashion illustrators may work as freelancers, handling all the business aspects that go along with being self-employed. Such responsibilities include keeping track of expenses, billing clients promptly and appropriately, and keeping their businesses going by lining up new jobs when a current project ends.
Because the fashion world is extremely competitive and fast-paced, fashion illustrators tend to work long hours under the pressure of deadlines and demanding personalities.