Career as Illustrator

Early Salary

2 - 3 L

Mid Salary

6 - 7 L

Senior Salary

12 - 14 L

Academic Pressure


Job Pressure



A children’s illustrator has to submit drawings and paintings for any publication meant for an audience that has just started to read or enjoys flipping through books and looking at good pictures. Illustrators can work for children’s magazines or bigger publishing houses such as the National Book Trust, Children’s Book Trust, Scholastic India or Puffin Books (from Penguin)

What do they do?

You mention Hansel and Gretel and the image that always pops up in my head comes from a book my brother owned as a child. It had a beautiful illustration of the evil witch’s charmed cottage, with gingerbread windows, ice-cream walls and a beautiful roof made of the most delicious of cakes and breads.

After all these decades, through the passing of which one has forgotten so many things, I’m surprised how that one small picture has endured, as has that huge beanstalk Jack climbed, or that ancient Chand-er boori (old woman of the moon) from that Bengali classic for children, Thakumaar Jhuli (Grandmother’s Bag).

For Suddhasattwa  Basu, painter and illustrator, who studied fine arts at the Govt. College of Art and Craft, Kolkata, and has also illustrated Nature Watch by Khushwant Singh, and To Live in Magic by Ruskin Bond, illustrations for children are “very different”, from other kinds of art. “Work done for adults can be pretentious. In fact, the more pretentious it is the more acceptable it is to grown-ups, who cannot see straight, and are always trying to read between the lines. Children are different. If they like you they’ll tell you. Any communication to them has to come straight from the heart, clear, direct – it has to have a sense of innocence,” says Basu.

Delhi-based freelance artist Partha Sengupta took up drawing for children after he was unable to forget the beautiful illustrations in the Russian books his brother used to get from College Street in Kolkata. Every story for ‘little people’ should have a picture he says, one that gets into a child’s head. “Today, many people, especially new entrants work on computers, but that’s not the same as manual drawing. A computer will have a fixed style. I have an image in my mind and I feel I am best equipped to use my hands to draw it,” says Sengupta.

A love of reading got both Basu and Sengupta interested in art. Basu’s mother would present him books thrice a year, “though we were not very rich, almost lower middle class,” he says. So, he would get his first book during the Bengali New Year, the second one would arrive on his birthday, and the last one during the Pujas.

Says Sengupta, “A child’s imagination works differently. The work should be realistic, simple, colourful and catchy.”

Another crucial thing these artists have to remember is the child within them. “I may be illustrating for a business magazine, doing something for a ministry, or for children, but the child within me is always jumping. You can do nothing if the child is dead,” says Basu.

“I keep observing children, the way they play, the way they can’t seem to do without each other, their expressions,” says Sengupta.

Source: HT Horizons

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Skills Needed

.    A confident, strong hand
.    Sound knowledge of drawing and painting techniques, ability to play with colours and handle pen and ink, poster colours and watercolours
.    Good with children, able to guage their mind and deliver what they want
.    Excellent communication skills to market, sell your work

How do I get there?

Talent is something you are born with. If you are good with the pencil or brush you can continue to hone your talent at the senior-school level and build up a portfolio of your work before you join art school. Most colleges will hold an aptitude test. Those of you who make it to a good art college will be required to do a four-year Bachelor’s degree in fine arts in which you will be taught about visual communication, drawing, nature and object drawing, illustrations, etc. You can follow it up with a Masters in fine arts

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