Fashion Illustrators


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Creative talent is probably the most important qualification you must have for this field. There are a number of classes you can take in high school to help you determine the extent of your talent as well as prepare you for this work. Naturally, take as many studio art classes as you can. Drawing and painting classes are especially helpful. Take computer classes that teach you about computer-aided design. Business, accounting, and mathematics classes will give you skills you will need to keep track of your accounts and run your own business. Take English or communication classes to develop your communication skills. You will be working with a variety of people, often as a member of a team, and you must be able to convey your ideas clearly as well as accurately follow directions.

Postsecondary Education

Although this is a career in which you don’t need to take a specific postsecondary educational route, there are a number of options available to you. There are, for example, academic programs in fashion illustration at many colleges, universities, and adult education centers. Some community and junior colleges offer associate’s degrees in commercial art. An advantage to pursuing education beyond high school is that it gives you an opportunity to build a portfolio, which is a collection of an artist’s best sketches that shows prospective clients a variety of skills. In addition to studying art, it is advantageous to study clothing construction, fabrics, fashion design, or cosmetology.

Illustration studies will include classes in drawing, painting, layout, color, and traditional and computer-aided design.


Some colleges and universities offer certificate programs in fashion illustration or fashion graphic arts. For example, Harper College (Palatine, Ill.) offers a certificate in fashion graphic arts. To earn the certificate, students must complete the following classes: Fashion Design Illustration I and II; Introduction to Graphic Arts Technology; Graphic Arts Desktop Publishing; Digital Imaging; Digital Illustration; and Graphic Design. Contact schools in your area to learn more about available programs. 

Other Education or Training

The Graphic Artists Guild offers a variety of teleclasses and webinars. Recent classes included How to Create and Deliver Your Best Portfolio, Making Money While You Sleep: Creating Continuous Cash Flow From Your Artwork, and What an Illustrator’s Rep Can and Can’t Do for You. The Society of Illustrators periodically offers educational workshops for its members. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for fashion illustrators.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

There are several ways to gain experience to prepare for a career in fashion illustration. They include practicing your drawing, both informally and in classes, and working as an assistant to an illustrator.

Illustrators need excellent manual dexterity, good eyesight and color vision, and artistic ability. They need an eye for composition as well as the ability to work creatively. Because this job involves working with groups of people, illustrators need to be patient, accommodating, and professional. An eye for detail is essential. And, naturally, they should be interested in fashion and expressing style through images. Illustrators who operate their own businesses must have strong business management, financial management, and marketing skills.