How to Get Freelance Illustration and Artist Jobs (Online, Remote, Home Office)

  • Written By: Michael Haralson
  • Date: January 2, 2022
freelance illustration and artist jobs - freelancingboss

If you are an illustrator or an artist and want to be a freelancer, you are probably thinking about how to get freelance illustration and artist jobs. Even more, the possibility to do your freelance work online, remote and at home appeals to you. Whether you are studying at the moment or you have completed your studies and ready to practice your skills in the real world, this is an important question. 

So how can you get freelance illustration and artist jobs? To get freelance illustration and artist jobs, you first have to find potential customers needing illustration or artist work that you can do as a project. Then secondly, you need to compete effectively to win the job. After this, there are five key things to do. You need to:
● Define precisely the types of illustration and artwork that you can do and describe it in terms that a company would want.
● Take stock of your experiences by making a proper profile and portfolio of your previous work and projects. List them all out.
● Look locally in the city you are living in for potential projects.
● Choose 3 to 5 online job platforms which you can apply for projects.
● Apply for job projects and keep applying until you get one.

It should be noted that some preparations must be done as well because your freelance work will most likely be done online and in your home office. You can take advantage of the remote work possibilities, however, building a productive home office is something that’s covered in detail in other articles on this website. 

I’m assuming that you have already decided to be a freelancer, especially if you’re reading this article. You are choosing to strike out on your own and do freelance projects and start a business as an entrepreneur instead of finding a 9-5 company job. 

freelance illustration and artist jobs - freelancingboss
Being a freelance illustrator or artist has its benefits, especially if you can work remotely – Freelancing Boss

In the big picture, there are no good or bad decisions. Working for a company gives you a bit more freedom to relax regarding your finances, i.e., a paycheck will be coming in every month. Working as a freelancer and entrepreneur gives you a significant amount of freedom to do things the way you want to. 

Both options have advantages and drawbacks, and nothing is set in stone; you can always change your mind. Make a decision and get going down the right track.

My main point here is that you should make a firm decision. You can always change that decision, but if you don’t decide and commit to being a freelancer or small business entrepreneur, it may be difficult to continue when things get tough. 

We need first to take a look at what kind of illustrator or artist you are and define what you’re good at in terms a potential customer can relate to and see your value.

What Is a Freelance Illustrator and What Kind of Freelance Illustration Work Can You Do?

An illustrator is one who uses traditional drawing and coloring tools to illustrate a point, a concept, or an idea. That may include creating storyboards to illustrate concepts or ideas and draw 2D or 3D sketches. The tools they use can be physical, like clay or plaster or oil and watercolor paints. They can also be digital, using PC or tablet software. Wikipedia similarly defines an illustrator. Read their full definition here.

Watch illustrators tell about their passion – Freelancing Boss

If an illustrator is working freelance, as a freelancer, this means simply that the person is working on freelance illustration jobs for himself or his own small business, typically done in projects.

There are many different types of illustration work a person can do. To give you some examples, here is a list of different freelance illustration jobs. In this table, I have researched the different types of illustration job disciplines. I have ranked them in terms of the amount of specialization that is needed to get freelance projects on a scale of 1-5 and then ranked the starting difficulty (how easy it is to start in this field) as Easy, Average, and Hard.

Table 1 - Illustration Work Types and Levels of Specialization and Starting Difficulty

TYPESpecialization
1-5 Scale
Starting Difficulty
Easy-Ave-Hard
Book illustrator 2 Average
Children's book illustrator2Easy
Digital illustrator 3 Average
Vector illustrator 3 Average
Fashion illustrator4 Hard
Technical illustrator4 Hard
Scientific illustrator 5 Hard
Medical illustrator5Hard
Pencil & Charcoal Illustrator4Easy
Oil, Acrylic and Watercolor paint illustrator 4 Easy
TYPESpecialization
1-5 Scale
Starting Difficulty
Easy-Ave-Hard

What Is a Freelance Artist and What Does a Freelance Artist Do?

Let’s do the same for a freelance artist in the context of describing the types of artist jobs there might be.

An artist is one who creates drawings or paintings as a profession using a wide variety of tools similar to what illustrators do. In the broad definition of the term, it can include any hobby or profession in which there is a creative element. For the focus of this article, we will refer to artists that can produce value to customers via freelancing projects. Wikipedia defines an artist in this way – take a look.

Again, if an artist is working freelance, they are creating artwork working on projects for themselves or their own company.

Unlike a graphic artist, who mainly makes commercial type of artwork for an advertising company for instance and mostly use digital tools, and artist creates drawings and paintings, and it can be considered to be fine art.

When it comes to the types of freelance artist jobs, here is a short list of them. 

Table 2 - Artist Work Types and Levels of Specialization and Starting Difficulty

TYPESpecialization
1-5 Scale
Starting Difficulty
Easy-Ave-Hard
Portrait artists 4Average
Fine artists 5 Hard
Interior design artist 4 Average
Fashion artist4Average
Sketch artist3Easy
3D artist 4 Average
TYPESpecialization
1-5 Scale
Starting Difficulty
Easy-Ave-Hard

In this table, I have researched the different types of artist jobs and ranked them similarly as I did with the illustrator types of jobs. There are lots of different types of artist in almost every discipline, however, keep in mind I only chose artists who create value in freelancing projects. It’s not a comprehensive list but covers many of the jobs offered on freelance job platforms.

Create a Portfolio of Your Illustration and Artist Experience

Once you have determined what kind of illustrator or artist you are and the types of work and value you can produce, you need to create a portfolio of your experience and interests and assemble it so that you can showcase your work to potential customers. By doing this, it will increase your chances to get freelance illustration and artist jobs.

It is an essential step, and we took some time to define what is an illustrator and what is an artist in the previous sections so that you can bring out your talents in this part. I will have more comprehensive information on creating a portfolio and other articles on this website because this is a critical tool that you need to have to get freelance jobs.

So, create that list of illustrator or artist projects that you have done, what you have studied, your interests which you could apply to possible new projects, and try to sum up the value that you can give to a customer. 

freelance illustration and artist jobs - freelancingboss
Create a portfolio of work that shows your experience and talent – Freelancing Boss

For instance, if you are skilled in fashion illustration and you have created all types of illustrations for fashion companies or fashion magazines or even your local fashion boutique, then collect your best to work in this area. 

Scan your top five illustrations and write a brief description of who you did this illustration for, what it was used for, and any comments from the customer. Put all five of these illustration scans and descriptions into one PDF document, and this can be the start of your portfolio. 

By doing this, it gives you something concrete about your experience as an illustrator or artist and showcases with a description that you have successfully completed work for someone. Later if you make a website to showcase your portfolio, you can easily add to this document or put these best illustrations on a webpage.

The best part of taking some time to create the portfolio is that it gives you something concrete to show to a potential customer. 

A Winning Combination to Get Freelance Illustration and Artist Jobs

To find freelance illustration or artist jobs, you need to find customers who are willing to pay for your work. I’m suggesting here that as a first step, you scout local companies where you are living, and then secondly, you try to compete in the freelance job platforms strategically. It may be best to use a combination of both of these methods to increase the chances of finding work. If you rely on only one of them, you may be missing opportunities.

Scouting Local Companies in the City Where You Are Living

Although most people, when they think about freelance jobs, automatically think and start with freelance job platforms, I’m going to start instead by suggesting that you take a look at the local companies in the city where you are living to find freelance jobs.

freelance illustration and artist jobs - freelancingboss
Look for freelance projects in the city you are living in as well as searching on freelance jobs platforms – Freelancing Boss

Depending on the type of illustrator or artist, you are there are lots of companies that may be willing to pay for your work. It will take a little extra effort, and you will need to search for the right people to talk to, but this will pay off in the long run. The key reason to try this approach is that you will have little or no competition if you connect with the right person.

To do this, look in the phone directory, on the internet, or even in the local paper for the leading advertising and design companies in your city. Try to make a list of 25, to begin with for now. Then call them and ask to discuss with a creative director of someone who is in production.

Present yourself as an illustrator or an artist and see if you can arrange a meeting. If this is not the right person to talk to, ask who it might be. This approach needs you to go out of your comfort zone, but remember, if you succeed here, the competition will be very low. 

Freelance Job Platforms

There are many freelance job platforms. The big ones like Upwork or Freelancer can be very difficult for beginners or people who have not collected a lot of work experience to showcase. For the big platforms, lots of experience counts, and some even require you to pay them just to use their platform. 

To get freelance illustration and artist jobs, the freelance platforms give a great indication of the types of projects customers are hiring for so do your research well here.

Here is a list of job boards which are focused for artist and illustrators. In this table I indicated whether the job platform has jobs for artists or illustrators or both and also indicated if the job board is easy to sign-up or if it requires detailed information. The size of the job platform is indicated – small or medium or large. The next column indicates if the job platform is specialized for artists and illustrators. Finally, in the last column I give the link for the job platform which opens up in a new tab.

Table 3 - Freelance Job Platforms for Artists and Illustrators

Freelance Job
Platform
Illustrator or Artist (or Both)Difficulty to Get Started - Easy sign-up /Detailed sign-upSize of Platform (Small-Med-Large)Specialized for Illustrators & Artists- Yes / NoJob Platform Link
Behance JobsBothEasy sign-upLargeYesBehance Jobs
Smashing JobsBothEasy sign-upSmallNoSmashing Jobs
DribbbleBothEasy sign-upSmallYesDribbble
99 DesignsBothEasy sign-upMedYes99Designs
IndeedBothEasy sign-upLargeNoIndeed
Simply HiredBothEasy sign-upLargeNoSimply Hired
Hire an IllustratorIllustratorEasy sign-upMedYesHire an Illustrator
Toptal BothDetailed sign-upLargeNoToptal
Association of Medical IllustratorsIllustratorEasy sign-upSmallYesAssociation of Medical Illustrators
MintyIllustratorDetailed sign-upSmallYesMinty
TwineBothEasy sign-upMedNoTwine
Freelance Job
Platform
Illustrator or Artist (or Both)Difficulty to Get Started - Easy sign-up /Detailed sign-upSize of Platform (Small-Med-Large)Specialized for Illustrators & Artists- Yes / NoJob Platform Link

You should take a look here to see which ones have a lot of projects that are similar to the type of experience that you have or an area that you have interest in and can connect with your current experience.

I think here it is vital to be strategic in how you approach finding your illustrator or artist freelance jobs. Try this instead:

Choose three to five job boards and create your account in each one of them.

Flag or make a note of the posted jobs which you think are the most relevant to the illustration or artist experience that you have.

If you are a beginner, you will have to choose the ones who pay less money or are asking for less experienced people. Otherwise, the competition will be too difficult for you. The most important thing if you are a beginner is to get experience and when and complete several projects so that you can compete for the better-paying projects.

freelance illustration and artist jobs - freelancingboss
Apply for projects on freelance job platforms and keep applying until you find a project – Freelancing Boss

If you have some experience and several projects under your belt, then choose the projects which are most closely aligned with your experience and portfolio. 

Apply for these projects according to the instructions, and be sure to link or attach your portfolio as a showcase of your skills.

It’s a good idea to apply to several jobs on each platform until you start to get some replies and are able to win the job. It’s not easy, and a lot of times, it feels as if you are spinning your wheels. But keep at it and persevere until you win the project. Remember, you only need one yes to get started on a new project.

As mentioned in the introduction, it may be a good idea to use a combination of scouting your local city companies for illustration or art projects and applying for projects on the above freelance job platforms. By taking the initiative and reaching out to local city companies and talking to people, it will give you more confidence and maybe quicker than waiting for the job platforms to answer you. Do what it takes to find a project, and you’ll be on your way to not only building your portfolio and gaining experience, but you will be able to compete more effectively for other jobs.

Conclusion

In order to get freelance illustration and artist jobs, it less difficult if you approach it the right way. Remember to summarize your experience in a clear and specific way and use the definitions of what is an illustrator and what is an artist to your benefit.

As you are planning to be a freelancer, if you are interested in learning how to do your work at home, check out this article I wrote How Can You Start Working From Home (Tips, Ideas, Skills)?

Build your portfolio so that you showcase your strengths and organize it in a way that can easily be referenced when you are discussing with a potential customer.

Finally, use a combination of searching for local projects in your city where you are living and in addition to applying for projects on strategically selected freelance job platforms. It will take a lot of determination and perseverance as well as smart choices in where and how to apply for your freelance projects. Good luck, and go get those projects!

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