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Earning Six Figures As A fashion Illustrator

Updated on March 1, 2010
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If you have always wanted to draw fashion sketches or simply want to make a new career by drawing creative fashion designs and did not know who to approach. The information you will need are here. I understand you have been through several searches online and it all ended up with you having to buy books or software because no one is giving free information. So i wouldn't waste more of your time as I list to you all you will get as information at the end of this hub.

1. Income sources of fashion illustrators

2. What you need to be a fashion illustrator

3. Basics of fashion illustration

4. Fashion illustration materials

5. How you will freelance your illustrations

6. Web links for fashion illustrators

1. Summary of income sources of fashion illustrators

There are absolutely lots of ways you can break into this creative and highly demanded profession.

As employee/ a staff of a company: this way you will be able to work for any creative team in a company be it fashion designing or fashion apparels companies. Mostly, big fashion houses do hire fashion illustrators as staff/ employee in other to keep their creative business running for long and also with newer ideas of fashion.

As a self-employed/ Freelancer: this way you will get to freelance on project basis and also through assignments introduced by artist agencies & consultation work. Through this way, you will make allot of income as you will be able to work with several people and fashion house at a time compared to when you are employed.

Teaching: of course you will need to be well experienced before you can get teaching opportunity and when you are experienced, you will be receiving professional fees or salary by teaching fashion skills and knowledge to students.

Licensing Intellectual property right: you can also earn money through retaining ownership of you fashion art works (intellectual ownership right) which your corporate client can use subsequently.

Endorsements of products and other accessories

Have your brand name: run your own fashion business with fashion apparels and accessories. I know that it's a great task starting up a fashion line but most established fashion designers today started very small especially as a fashion illustrator.

2. What you need to be a Successful fashion illustrator

To become successful in Fashion illustration there are 4 skill set you must have.

Talent: to be able to express your fashion illustration ideas more effectively, you must have an instinctive ability to use your good judgment in managing visual communication through colours, patterns, scale and creativity.

Technical Skill: you will need the mastery of current tools that are necessary to produce and implement your ideas. It could be free hand fashion sketch drawing or the use of computer software like (Adobe illustrator) to assist the presentation of your creative solutions.

People's Skill: Good interpersonal skill is also important for a fashion illustrator. This means being a good verbal communicator and a good listener who is able to maintain positive relationship with others. You should know that as a fashion illustrator, your clients and colleagues remain within the set of creative people also like photographers, models, and established designers e.t.c. So it will be easier to build your career as a designer if all this important people of the industry are happy to work with you.

Business Skill: As not only in fashion illustration, business acumen is really important if you want to succeed in any aspect of your career. Identifying changing trends and marketing opportunities will be a great advantage. Must be able to meet client’s expectations in terms of efficiency and creativity. You also need to be wise in managing your own business as that is important if you want to grow.

3. Basics of fashion illustration

as a newbie who want to catch up with the fashion design drawing skills in the early stages, figure template and poses will help you express your ideas.

First, you create the figure next by adding the sketches of fabrics, adding colours and accessories to your figure template. The ultimate goal of your sketch is to provide you and the people you want to share with the feel of how the garment will look like when won. this gives the visual impact.

4. Fashion illustration materials

Pencils (wood cased)

The degree of hardness is printed on each pencil. (2B, 3B etc)

F and HB medium, EX is extremely soft

Charcoal Pencils

The effect is like using real charcoal sticks. It comes in hard, medium or soft.

Carbon Pencils

It can be used to provide a dull matt finish to a sketch

Black Pencils

Heavy large leads for bold drawings with a matt finish

Colour Pencils

A good range of colours are available in the market. It gives good control in colour depth. Easy to use.

Watercolour Pencils

Soft water soluble pencils. You can use dry or use a brush to wash over to achieve a watercolour effects

Other colour materials


Inks can be mixed with one another or diluted with water. A wide range of colours is available.

Acrylic colours

Can be diluted with water, but become waterproof when dry. Can be used with a variety of techniques.


Quality of the pastels is important.

Colour inks

Some are waterproof. A wide selection is available.


Document Paper

White paper with a smooth surface. Suitable for pencil, crayon and colours. This type of paper is made in varying thicknesses and qualities.

Drawing Paper/ Sketch Book Paper

The surface has slightly rough texture. Suitable for colours work like watercolour and pastels

Ingres Paper

This type of paper is suitable for pastel and tempera work.

Tracing Paper

Come in sheets of different sizes. Translucent.

Carbon Paper

Coated on one side with a layer of a loosely bound dry ink or pigmented coating. It is used for making one or more copies simultaneous with the creation of an original document


Fashion boards

Very good quality thick board that will take charcoal, crayon, and watercolour paints etc.


A white for general use and or paste up usage.

Other Art Materials


Come in many sizes and qualities (hairs types)

5. How to freelance your fashion illustrations

If you are not convenient with working with fashion/apparels companies as an employee then you can freelance your sketches in this following ways.

Personal freelance: this way you go from fashion house to fashion houses to showcase your creative work. This way you will be earning direct and multiple streams of income as a fashion artist but will require more of your time and dedication.

Fashion agents: or you can simply contract with fashion agents who will help you get your work to the people he knows in the industry. This is also good as fashion agents already knows those you want to know but the only cut down is the little service percentage they get to charge on every deal they close for you. You can have as many agents as your finances can carry and one better thing is you will have more time to do the work while they take care of the business side of it.

Also these days when internet and one day carrier service has made almost everything possible, you can freelance your work internationally and get paid for it.


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    • profile image


      2 years ago from indonesia

      Should a fashion Illustrator to know how to sew using a sewing machine?

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      For being creative and talented you don't need college, because YOU'RE already talented and creative. You needed college to acquire the skills such as drawing, pattern making, etc.

      And nowadays you can get that just from the internet! There're tons of websites teaching you exactly what you need at an affordable price, and sometimes for free, some of them are: There's a free course of Fashion Illustration for beginners here. and are other sites with affordable prices.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      This is an interesting article, I also discovered a place in Nigeria where they offer training on Fashion Illustration, maybe it can of help to anyone too.

    • Zengpin profile image

      Mister Zenpin 

      3 years ago from Unknown

      Thanks a lot.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Thanks a lot. This was eye opening, I love illustrating, I love fabric I just find it hard to get jobs in Nigeria that require an illustrator and I have been on the lookout.

    • profile image

      Fashion Events and Webinars 

      6 years ago

      There are times when we have no concept what we should use at a certain occurrence and experience the need to basically ask for a person's help. In this scenario the best factor that you can do is to go on the internet.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      thank you so much for this article...i however would love to know how i can make it on internet though i have got my dream actualizing on owning my own fashion company...i hate sowing but i love illustrating...this is hard in nigeria but not impossible...pls i would love you to mentor me on the step forward...thankyou; my email is

    • profile image

      Bil Donovan 

      6 years ago

      Fashion Illustration is a very competitive field. One must be adept at drawing the figure, and not following a template or croquis. If you have a passion for drawing and you like fashion then you should develop your observation and drawing skills, learn anatomy and be able to draw not only the fashion figure, but a still life, landscape, shoes, utensils or animals. These skills will allow you to not only solicit the limited fashion illustration market but also to expand into other markets such as animation-graphic design and general illustration. To succeed as a commercial artist today one needs to be versatile and prolific and have a command of digital technology. Passion will always rule so follow your passion and the path will be illuminated. Best of Luck.

      Bil Donovan

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      answering your own post

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Jaime or Tosch has marked rightly the silverline difference between Fashion Illustrator and Fashion Designer. If my understanding is correct, Fashion Design is mostly related with Garment, Pattern Making, Apparel Matching, Apparel and Body fitness drawings. But as an illustrator in Fashion one should know the expressive way of presentation of any kind of passion towards fashion. Is it so?

    • bugslady8949 profile image


      7 years ago from The Bahamas

      I did not know this career even exist. I like to thank you for opening my eyes. you did a great job on hub.

    • profile image

      Jeanne Brown 

      7 years ago

      What is a person called who is good at fashion illustrating and designing but not good at putting the garment together?

    • profile image


      8 years ago


      thank you for you help on this site its been very helpful

      i have the same question like Richard peter i live in the netherlands and i have been a lot an google but there is nothing that helps you with being a fashion desinger here in holand only you must to go to a college that cost a lot of mony and i want that but ita a lot of many..but i got a fashion design i want to archieve and i just dont know where to start so please so i can archieve my dream ..thank you

    • Darey profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Lagos, Nigeria

      Hello Richard, thank you for the encouragment. I underatand that skills like this in Nigeria are not openly accepted with wide arms in the industry because i've been in the industry and knows how the chances are kept so tiny but I'm glad you made this post with you email provided where I'll be glad to give you all the rightful info on how to Go from here. Jaime, Thank you for most aprreciated comment. Even though I'm fully aware of this fact but choose the word illustrator as to what most people would probably search for under a topic like this. Once again, thank you.

    • profile image

      Jaime R Tosch 

      8 years ago

      Dear Sir,

      I believe you are using the wrong title for this post. A FASHION ILLUSTRATOR is an artist that draws or paints the fashion figure for advertising or any other reason. A FASHION DESIGNER is one that you are describing here. She would be the one working with the fabric, patterns and color stylist.

      Working in LA, I illustrate for Advertising agencies, Fashion Houses, Fashion newspapers and magazines. Rarely, you may find a 'Fashion Designer' being as good as a 'Fashion illustrator'. The reason is because their emphasis is on the garment, not the form of the body underneath.

    • profile image

      Richard peter 

      8 years ago

      This is a motivating and a helpful document.

      It helps and serve as a guideline.

      But it works better in a country that practice entreprenual skills with open oppurtunities.

      Have got dream but here in Nigeria,its hard to archieve.

      Can you help?

      If yes,please mail me

      i got a fashion design i want to archieve and basically i need help archieve my dream and earn a living.

      Thanks and God bless.


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