It’s the million dollar question; should you hire an illustrator for your project? Whether you’re a business entrepreneur, or just publishing something small, you might’ve sat down pondered this very thing. 

Most people are unaware of the costs and time required to create high-quality illustrations. However, if you’re ready to elevate your project from ordinary to extraordinary, you may require the designer magic that only illustrations can provide.  Here’s what you should know before hiring an illustrator.

Illustrators vs. Graphic Designers

Here’s the deal: Before you learn how to hire an illustrator, you must determine whether an illustration is what you actually need. I realize it sounds a bit perplexing. Though  many people are unaware of the distinction between a graphic designer and an illustrator. While looking for someone to produce artwork for your brand,  you must be capable of distinguishing the two   Otherwise, you’ll be shelling out a lot of money for unnecessary items.

So, what distinguishes a graphic designer from an illustrator? In all honesty, a graphic designer and an illustrator have a lot in common. They perform comparable occupations and share many standard skill sets. Their key differences lie in overall goal.

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Graphic Designers

A graphic designer specializes in developing a cohesive style that establishes your brand. The process is always on the client’s behalf. Their personal inspiration or style should have no bearing on the final product.   If that sounds like what you require, take a look into hiring a graphic designer. If not, stay here.


An illustrator is typically hired for their unique style and contributions. Each illustrator has a special skillset they may provide. The exact same proposal can have distinct results depending on the artist hired for this job. 

As an example, let’s imagine that you’re an author wanting to commission the design your book’s cover. Your pitch may give easy instructions, such as designing a pink tree on a white background. Depending on the artist, you’ll get wildly different results.   While one artist may  draw something realistic, someone else may draw something abstract.  Another person may create details you never thought were conceivable. This is why it’s crucial to complete your research before hiring any illustrator. Though we’ll get into that later.

If you want something that pertains not only to your brand, but to a very specific art style, then you’re in the right place. You would want to hire an illustrator.

Why Hire An Illustrator?

You could still be unsure of whether an illustration is required for the project at hand. Perhaps you’re saying to yourself,  “Oh, it’s just a little drawing. I could easily do that. Or I get a friend to do that. Why does a picture require yet another person to hire?” When constructing something significant, it’s  beneficial to pinpoint what you need and don’t need. Having said that, sometimes an illustrator is a necessity. They do much more than sketch pictures all day.

An illustrator’s job consists of three main factors: 

  • project consultation 
  • research 
  • sketch production 

With these three things in mind, let’s go over the benefits of each. 

Product Consolation

Project consolation is the process by which an illustrator communicates with you and other team members .  They first talk about how the art will be used in a project. Illustrators will meet with marketers, editors, and even graphic designers during this process. This ensures that everyone is working in unison toward a common goal. When you hire an illustrator, you should always get clear communication from the start.


When it comes to research, Illustrators are expected to broaden their knowledge of the types of projects they’re working on.  Research is critical in order to create an accurate illustration. For example, if you’re an artist working on a drawing for a science magazine, you might be tasked to illustrate a dinosaur. In this case, you’d need to conduct research on the dinosaur’s skeleton, habitat, potential colors, and movement, among other things.

Likewise, if you’re illustrating for a historical project, you’ll need to do your research to accurately depict the environment and/or people. Of course, the illustrator’s research will be heavily influenced by the client’s instructions.

Sketch Production

Sketch production is an often-overlooked benefit of hiring an illustrator. Because illustration is such a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, artists frequently provide sketch previews to their clients. This means that while your hired illustrator is working on your project, you’ll have constant oversight of how things are progressing. If you’re dissatisfied with any aspect of the illustration, you can voice your concerns and have it revised as soon as possible. This helps to avoid mistakes or miscommunications along the way, while also saving time.

Still Unconvinced?

Despite this information, you may be tempted to hire a close friend or someone you know who can draw a pretty picture. If your friend is a professional illustrator with extensive experience, then by all means, go ahead. Though most times, when people make this argument, they’re referring to an amateur artist. Worse yet, it’s someone whose artistic background is unknown. 

Here’s the thing; professional illustrators have schooling and/or intense training in their specific field. They don’t just draw or paint for fun; they do art for a living. There is a key distinction in quality between a professional and amateur illustrator. 

Professional illustrators often have experience in working with other clients/business people. They’ll know what to expect from you, as well as what’s expected of them. They know structure, color, objects in space, and how to produce other intricate details that the average person couldn’t begin to understand. Professional illustrators are less likely to get these things mixed up. So although their services are notably more pricey, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when hiring a qualified illustrator.

In other words, don’t hire an amateur artist. Not unless you like gambling.

Step 1: Determine Your Needs

“The Low Road,” Art Spiegelman.

Before diving headfirst into the hiring process, determine the needs of your project.

 First off, what is this piece going to be about? Do you have a specific theme in mind, a certain action, or character? This should not only be the first thing discussed with an illustrator, but also the main component that drives you to an illustrator. Remember when I mentioned that different illustrators will yield wildly different results? When pitching a project, you must have a particular art style in mind. Would you like the pink tree to look realistic or cartoony? Dull, or brightly colored? Three-dimensional, or flat? “The Low Road,” Art Spiegelman,

Every illustrator has unique abilities and areas of expertise. Some are excellent at drawing scenery; they can create a detailed set of palm trees next to a gleaming lake, or an abstract rainforest teeming with flora and fauna. On the other hand, some excel at drawing people; they can draw lips, noses, and mouths. They are able to draw various body shapes with varying degrees of movement. What does your project necessitate from the artist? What skills should they have?

Each of these questions will give an idea of what to look for when hiring.

Remember your deadlines. You must decide how much time an illustrator should need to finish their work. Once more, a great deal of these features depend on the illustrator in question. Some artists produce their work incredibly rapidly, usually within a day or two. However, these quick turnaround times frequently come with lower quality. Numerous artists produce high-quality work, however, there can be a long wait.

There is, of course, such a thing as balance. An experienced professional illustrator will be able to effectively manage their time without sacrificing quality. Fast and excellent services could be more expensive. Though if time is of the essence, it is worth considering.

Step 2: Find Your Illustrator

So, let’s say you now know what to look for. How do you actually go about hiring an illustrator? Where exactly should you do the looking? 

The Hiring Process

Thanks to the internet, you no longer need to resort to hanging posters on the street.  To hire an illustrator, there are several trustworthy resources available. Nowadays, many firms look for freelance websites. You can locate individual artists on websites like Fivver and Upwork at a range of costs, skill levels, and turnaround times. They can be an excellent place to look for illustrators.

If working in person is more your style, you can always choose the standard hiring procedure. Create a new job posting on Indeed or LinkedIn. After reviewing each applicant’s resume, you can determine whether you want to arrange a meeting to explain your vision to them in person.

Whatever method you employ for hiring, you must maintain your attention on the important issues. You don’t want to pay an unqualified artist for the work, after all. Along with basic information about the artist, a decent profile ought to feature a portfolio of the artist’s work. Investigate the body of the illustrator’s work on several websites. Check their online reputation on social media accounts. Make certain to read the reviews of said artist. You want them to have at least a three and a half to a four-star rating. Furthermore, you want a sufficient number of reviews to verify that rating.

Sound Like Too Much?

As you read this, you might be completely dreading the hiring process. After all, selecting the ideal designer is a pretty difficult procedure. What if I told you that the hiring process could be avoided altogether?

It is feasible to avoid the hiring procedure, yes. You can sign up with Penji if you want someone to handle all the work for you. It works especially well with those who require numerous and regular illustrations.

Only the best designers from around the world make up Penji. We exclusively produce expertly made, high-quality work. Using our customized system, we’ll quickly match you with the most qualified designer for the task at hand.  Penji provides the greatest outcomes for each client.

Step 3: Figure Out the Technical Details

Regardless of the approach you choose, once you have your illustrator, it’s time to work out the technical issues.  I’m referring to compensation and copyright.


What will the payment look like?  If you’re remotely as frugal as I am, this was definitely one of your first queries when considering hiring an illustrator   It’s an essential question, I assure you. The answer to this issue is strongly influenced by the hiring procedure you’ve selected.

Hiring sites usually handle the payment for you, acting as a middleman. The price of your illustration will be determined by the artist.

When you sign up for Penji, you will be given a fixed monthly payment. So you don’t even have to worry about paying each illustrator separately for each project.

If you hire an illustrator the old-fashioned way, you’ll need to figure out how to pay them. If your job posting calls for a full-time or part-time illustrator, you’ll set the salary range and list your benefits. Freelance illustrators, on the other hand, usually charge their own rates. Some charge by the hour, while others charge by the illustration.

 Generally speaking, the more detailed your pitch is, the more it’s going to cost you.

The price will also be determined by the artist’s reputation. Big-name illustrators are seen as more trustworthy, so they will charge more than the average. Smaller and newer artists will frequently charge less than the average to get their foot in the door. Remember that these artists will typically have less experience.

If you don’t have a huge budget to hire a big-name artist, it all comes down to balance. You want someone who has a large following and a good reputation while charging reasonable prices.


You must ensure that your copyrights are in order

The rights to a particular piece of art vary depending on the illustrator.  Artists will sometimes permit you to use their work while retaining the copyright. This means that you can use their work for whatever you want, but they can also post it as long as it is unmonetized.

In other cases, you can get full copyright over the illustration. This means that the original artist can no longer use their peace without permission, as it legally belongs to you. 

In your job listings, you can define your own copyright policies. If for whatever reason you want the full rights to a piece, then it must be clearly communicated when you hire an illustrator. Communication is the key to avoiding future complications.

Step 4: Stay Involved in Sketch Production

It’s crucial to be involved in the creation once you’ve officially hired an illustrator. As I said before, the artist will discuss the picture as it’s created. It is not only your responsibility to let them understand what you require, but also to provide feedback and modifications as necessary. It’s essential to communicate with the illustrator even after the employment process. By doing this final step, you’ll guarantee your own satisfaction.