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Have a background in art? Like working with clients to create graphics that fit their needs? A career in professional illustration might be right for you, especially if you use the examples and guidelines below to create a resume that “illustrates” your creativity, versatility, and grasp of modern artistic tools.
The modern illustrator is a creative hired to make original artwork for a third party. Depending on the industry, this artwork can be anything from comics and animation stills to book covers, brand icons, or even elaborate oil/watercolor paintings.
The combination resume example below has a very flexible layout, thanks to blending features from chronological resumes (which focus on describing work experience) and functional resumes (which focus on describing skills). By using or tweaking this example, you can build a resume that shows hiring managers your strengths and really gets into what makes your artwork unique and desirable.
One useful part of this resume example is the areas of expertise section, which has three slots for listing different categories of art skills. With this section, you can build a resume that lets hiring managers quickly look up the info they need to see if you’re the right match for the job. This resume template also puts the education section near the start of your resume, not the end. This unconventional touch lets hiring managers quickly learn about your academic background and proficiency with graphic design software/hardware.
Many clients hire professional illustrators on commission, which can be tricky to describe in a standard resume. Thankfully, this example resume’s professional experience section happens to have a dedicated “independent freelance contractor” entry where you can list past art commissions, short-term projects, and other temporary illustration gigs. In this space, you have the chance to mention high-profile clients by name, describe the types of art you made, and where that art can be found (books, websites, etc). Theoretically, you could even use this section to talk about your creative process and how you changed it between projects.
1. Header. List your name and contact information at the top of your resume, then write out your job title (illustrator) and titles of other artistic careers you’ve pursued in the past.
2. Professional summary. This should be a short paragraph that describes your strengths as an illustrator and the types of illustrations you excel at creating
3. Area of expertise section. Here, list and sort your professional skills into subsections with titles such as “animation,” “illustration,” or “storyboarding.”
4. Education section. Here, describe the degrees you’ve earned and the institutions you made them from. Also list relevant technical proficiencies of yours such as expertise in Adobe Illustrator, illustrating with pencils or paints, etc).
5. Professional experience section. Here, list past/present artistic jobs of yours. Describe each job’s day-to-day duties in a single paragraph, then use bullet points to list special accomplishments.
Hiring managers are always interested in applicants with degrees in fine art, graphic design, or digital arts, but often prioritize illustrators who can use modern digital illustration software and have portfolios with art samples that demonstrate creativity, attention to detail, and versatility of style.
Professional illustrator resumes often list skills such as:
2D & 3D Animation
Drawing & Painting
Planning & Coordination
Creative and multitalented Illustrator with training and skill in using both traditional and digital animation, including pencil drawings and marker renderings to create and illustrate final project designs, breaking down scenes, and planning shots. Exceptional collaborative and interpersonal skills; able to work directly with clients to develop and manage projects from concept to completion. Skilled working independently and on cross-functional teams to ensure project success. Adept at learning new technologies and processes.
Employment history example
Illustrator as Independent Freelance Contractor, Los Angeles, CA
2018 - Present
Interface with diverse range of clients to complete development of sophisticated projects within budget and ahead of schedule. Collaborate closely with authors and management to edit, refine, and finalize content for production.
ABC Publishing: Illustrated and painted 10-15 pages for “Winter Day”, “Frogger”, and “Fun Five” children’s books.
Miller Publishing House: Illustrated and painted 30 pages for two children’s book series.
Runner / Client Services at The Mill, Los Angeles, CA
2014 - 2018
Served as point of contact in managing and assisting clients in completing key projects. Interacted with executives, producers, directors, and artists to understand project needs, plan shoots/sets, and serve as “Eagle” in relaying messages and instructions to key personnel. Collaborated with other departments to execute action plans and provide exceptional customer service to all clients. Tracked and recorded expenses and financial purchases.
Assisted engineers in setting up computer and equipment repairing building fixtures, and helped the Marketing Department plan and coordinate events, deliveries, and parties.
Credited for training new runners in how to understand and meet the client needs, while keeping executives updated on managers and client’s requests and proposed solutions.
Honored for winning the “Character Drawing” contest in 2015.
Bachelor of Arts, Animation at Columbia College Chicago - Winner of the 10th Annual Illustration Competition
Cartoons / Movies
2D & 3D Animation
Concept Sketch’s & Designs
Finance / Expense Tracking
ToonBoom, Adobe (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign), Stop Motion Pro, Google Docs, Cintiq, MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)