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  • Writer's pictureTeam DesignerShala

Career as a Fashion Illustrator

Updated: Oct 2, 2021

Fashion is no more just about the clothes you wear and the runway shows that churn out new trends every season. In today’s world, fashion has also been revolutionised into styling, the art of carrying yourself and even something as simple yet impactful as reinventing your entire persona. This is also why there’s a career that focuses only on one but the most important part of fashion designing—fashion illustration. Now, a fashion illustrator is someone who can visualize and communicate ideas related to fashion through a series of sketches or paintings. As a professional in this domain, you get to make the next big fashion trend your baby and give life to it!

Generally working alongside the digital media and fashion industry, fashion illustrators develop skills like drawing, sketching, painting and digital skills in order to showcase their fashion talents through advertising, social media or print media. With the sudden boost of fashion and lifestyle-related industries in the 21st century, this job profile is currently in high demand and will be for a long time.

Being a fashion illustrator means you can either start your own entrepreneurial journey by creating a fashion media house that works on designs and curates them or even work individually with creative companies to produce content. Along with knowing fashion and the latest trends, a fashion illustrator comes with a unique skill set. Being creative, resourceful, observational, and detail-oriented are some of the skills that do very well in the fashion industry. But, If you plan to start your own business here, a certification in business management would serve as a booster for sure.

A fashion illustration collection with designer clothing sketched on paper
Fashion Illustrations are the visual language of fashion.

Do you think you have what it takes?

To be a fashion illustrator, you need to have basic educational qualifications and a creative-driven mind. As far as the basic qualifications go, here are the following -

- Class 12th Pass certificate from a recognized board of education like ICSE, CBSE, etc.

- A diploma or bachelor’s degree in fashion design/fashion illustration/graphic design or similar certification.

- Candidates that have a degree or certification in software tools/computer tools that assist with fashion illustration will have an added advantage.

These are the basic qualifications needed to become a fashion illustration. But, there’s a lot more that is required from a candidate to gain success in this field. Despite garnering a tremendous amount of popularity in the last few years, this field certainly requires a lot of work. Having an incredible eye for fashion and a strong background in art, graphic designing or illustration will work wonders in this field. Not just that; you must also be able to channel your inner creativity and set your talent into action!

What does a fashion illustrator do?

The fashion industry has left a remarkable impact on the world today and it would be nowhere without fashion illustrators. You get to create trends and share your ideas with the world! The job of a fashion illustrator is divided into two main roles, one involves sketching out a fashion piece using pencils, charcoal, paper, etc. and the second one involves replicating that image with the help of computer software like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop or CAD.

Basically, you will be required to spend most of your time sketching out the latest fashion apparel, jewellery, accessories and footwear with the help of your sketching books or computer software. If you are passionate about everything fashion, this job will, certainly, excite you and keep you hooked! A career like this one not only utilizes your fashion knowledge but also your graphic designing skills. Besides these qualifications, you also require a high level of accuracy, attention to detail and colour interpretation. Moreover, you will be working alongside designers, artists and customers who trust in your work, so you got to make sure that you are a team player!

Experience in this field can be gained through internships or working as a part of apprenticeship programs to upskill and add the relevant experience to your portfolio. If you are planning to fly solo or start your own venture, a certification or a course in business management can also help you in the long run. As a fashion illustrator, you will be required to have basic knowledge about photography and animation to organize or edit the work of your colleagues.

Fashion illustration with pantone colour swatches
The blue print of a design is in the sketch

How to become a Fashion Illustrator?

To become an extraordinary fashion illustrator, you need to create eye-catching designs, visualize concepts and work with illustrators. But, to be all of that, you need to start at the very bottom. So, here’s a step by step method to become a fashion illustrator:

1. Get a Bachelor’s Degree

Any aspiring candidate who wishes to enter the fashion illustration field must hold a bachelor’s or associate degree from one of the design fields. It could be graphic design, fashion design, or illustration. Additionally, you could opt to get certified or take online courses in typography, anatomical drawing, digital illustration or web design. Despite serving as accessory certifications or learning tools, these courses will surely give you an upper hand when it’s time to apply for internships or jobs. Once you are qualified and you’ve graduated, you can work with a variety of companies and execute plenty of professional skills.

2. Create a Portfolio

If you wish to work with well-known fashion houses, designers, artists and clients, you need to set up your professional portfolio. Your professional journey into fashion illustration will begin once you have created your portfolio that displays your skills through visual representation. Once you graduate, you will, definitely, get the opportunity to build one through internships or apprenticeship programs. We’d say, a well-made portfolio is the first step towards excelling in your career in fashion illustration.

3. Work experience

Once you create a portfolio, you need to enter the professional set-up to secure a job in fashion illustration. To gain experience, you must put yourself in professional situations with experts from the industry and learn skills to garner individual recognition and experience. Some of the tasks expected of you in a professional set-up will be conceptualizing sketches or drawings with the help of CAD (Computer-Aided Designs), researching on latest fashion trends and coordinating with various teams on design layouts. The projects you work on will help you achieve visibility and get the experience you need, to go further into the world of fashion illustration.

An impactful portfolio along with remarkable work and experience at a major fashion house can help you climb the ladder to success in this field.

So, what is the takeaway?

Following your heart and becoming a fashion illustrator in today’s world can be a very rewarding experience. With the type of exposure that the 21st century offers to fashion aspirants, you will be able to polish your skills and work with some of the very powerful names in the business. If you’re still unsure whether this profession is for you, speak to your peers or mentors who could guide you in the right direction. Meanwhile, you could also opt for small courses or certifications to understand your passion for the profession better.

As a fashion illustrator, you will have the power to change the way the world views apparel, footwear, jewellery or simply anything related to fashion. You could create new trends, work with brands that reign the current industry and make a name for yourself. In this field, it is very easy (But, challenging!) to turn your passion into a paycheck!

Wondering where you can get started? Here is your cue! Click Here to enroll for a Fashion Illustration master class and learn all of the above and much more!

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