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Fashion Illustrator: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a fashion illustrator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and salary expectations to find out if this is the career for you.

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A career as a fashion illustrator typically requires a bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related field. Those interested in pursuing this career will need to build a portfolio to showcase their work to potential employers. Fashion illustrators use art to express fashion designs and ideas, and they may be employed by publications, studios, fashion designers or clothing manufacturers.

Essential Information

Fashion illustrators, also known as fashion design artists, are specialized illustrators who focus on expressing fashion designs and ideas through art. They must be familiar with computer design software and usually hold bachelor's degrees in graphic design or a relevant field. Fashion illustrators can work for many types of employers, including publications and fashion manufacturers. Many are freelancers and work on contract.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in graphic design or related field
Additional Requirements Artistic portfolio
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1% increase for all graphic designers
Median Salary (2015)* $46,900 for all graphic designers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Job Description

A graphic designer, illustrator or other artist who concentrates on fashion, including clothing lines, fashion magazine artwork, footwear and drawings found in sewing pattern catalogs, can be classified a fashion illustrator. Combining a background in art and fashion, the artist creates illustrations of clothes and accessories for different purposes. Computer skills and an understanding of digital software illustration tools is increasingly necessary. A fashion illustrator may be hired by a company, a studio or an individual fashion designer.

Some illustrators are hired for full-time, permanent positions, but many operate as independent freelancers who work on short-term contracts. An understanding of business concepts and a strong network of contacts can help fashion illustrators manage their freelance business and find work. To stand out in this field, illustrators need to polish their skills and develop a personal style.

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Duties

Whether drawing for a magazine's fashion spread or creating ads, posters and brochures to generate consumer excitement for a new line of clothing, the fashion illustrator must clearly communicate fashion concepts through artistic means. The fashion artist may be called upon to draw the human figure in illustrations associated with the fashion industry. Illustrators may apply different drawing and illustrating techniques to express fashion designs in detail, including colors and fabric textures. They might use realistic representations or more abstract sketches. Some jobs require specializations; an October 2011 search for fashion illustrator jobs at CareerBuilder.com yielded postings seeking illustrators to develop eyewear sketches and shoe illustrations.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic designers earned an annual median salary of $46,900 in 2015. Continuously refining skills and developing professionally might help fashion illustrators earn more with time, as the top 10% of graphic designers earned over $81,000 that same year. The BLS predicted 1% employment growth for all graphic designers from 2014 through 2024, which means there will be little to no change in the number of jobs available.

Fashion illustrators often run their own businesses and work on short-term contracts; as a result, they may need the skills to manage their own business effectively. The job market for fashion illustrators is very competitive, and fashion illustrators who hone their artistic skills and develop their own personal style may have an advantage when competing for jobs or contracts. A bachelor's degree is typically required for this line of work.

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