What to expect from a career in Illustration

Art can be a form of communication on its own, or as a complement or enhancement to words. People who work in the illustration industry are highly creative – they have unique skills that allow them to create visual stories that impact audiences. Whether used to persuade, sell or simply communicate, illustration programs at Ontario colleges provide students with the technical skills and business sense they need to succeed in this thriving industry.

If you have the creativity and talent to make ideas come alive through illustration and imagery, here’s what you need to know.

Illustration Courses

Ontario college illustration programs teach students both traditional and new methods of illustration – illustration done by hand, as well as with technology. This combination gives students the skills they need to work in a variety of industries.

Courses in these programs typically work toward developing the following three skills:

  • Technical expertise. Students will master various art forms and techniques in courses like life drawing, interpretive illustration, advertising illustration, graphic design, concept development, book and comic illustration, and much more.
  • Business know-how. It’s common for illustration professionals to do freelance work or own their own businesses, so students will take business courses that focus on basic marketing, finance, self-promotion and running a small business.
  • Visual creativity. Throughout illustration programs, students will be counselled and encouraged by professors to bring out and expand their creativity.

By the end of these programs, students will have numerous pieces for their art portfolio, which will play an important role in finding jobs.

General Illustration Program Requirements

Entry level illustration programs at Ontario colleges require an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent, including a grade 12 English credit. Degree programs require that the majority of senior courses be at the U or M level. Colleges may also suggest specific art courses to best prepare students for the program.

Illustration programs offered at the post-graduate level require a college diploma or university degree. A portfolio and other non-academic criteria may also be required, so check program admission information carefully.

Illustration Jobs and Salaries

Illustration programs provide diverse opportunities for graduates. As illustrators and entrepreneurs, students will be prepared to create visuals for the Internet, magazines, children’s books, graphic novels, television and movie backgrounds, technical illustrations, greeting cards and other paper products, and more.

Students will also find employment openings in a variety of fields, including (but not limited to):

  • Graphic design
  • Publishing
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Animation
  • Entertainment

The average salary for illustrators starts low, between $25,000 and $30,000 per year. It’s important to remember that many graduates of illustration programs go on to start their own businesses, so while their starting salary may be low at the beginning, it could easily be much higher once a client base is established.

Ontario Colleges Offering Illustration Programs

Use the left-column navigation to refine your search by College, Program Availability, Program Start Date and more, or see the table below for a complete list of illustration programs at Ontario colleges.

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