7 Tips to Becoming a Children's Picture Book Illustrator: My Journey and Advice

Becoming a children's picture book illustrator is an exciting and fulfilling journey that requires a combination of artistic skills, persistence, and a strong portfolio. I know this because I've been through it myself. Allow me to share my story and offer you some valuable tips to help you pursue your dream of becoming a children's picture book illustrator.

Tip 1: Develop your artistic skills: When I first entertained the idea of becoming a children's picture book illustrator, I was working as a graphic designer in London. I spent my lunch breaks visiting bookshops, immersing myself in children's books, and marveling at the creativity and artistry they offered. To improve my skills, I started drawing, painting, and illustrating (pretend briefs) on a regular basis.

Tip 2: Study children's picture books: To understand the intricacies of children's picture books, I immersed myself in the world of storytelling. I frequented bookstores and joined the local library, where I read and obsessed with my favorite illustrators. I also educated myself about the structure of a picture book by deconstructing the picture books I read. Becoming familiar with the number of pages and illustrations, and how the text and images worked together. I also started to make a list of publishers aligned with my aspirations.

Tip 3: Build a tailored portfolio: With my background in graphic design, I understood the concept of a portfolio. However, I had little illustration work to showcase. To bridge this gap, I focused on creating more artwork in line with children's picture book illustrations. While doing this, I discovered my love for watercolor and illustrating animal characters, which became the core of my portfolio.

Tip 4: Embrace the feedback journey: Now, I must admit, I didn't have the luxury of online communities to guide me through the start of my picture book journey. This is why I encourage you to reach out to trusted mentors, fellow illustrators, and industry professionals for their invaluable feedback. You'd be surprised how their constructive criticism (and it needs to be constructive) can fast-track and transform your work into something truly exceptional. Remember, we're all on this creative adventure together!

Tip 5: Embrace the power of community: Connecting with fellow illustrators and industry professionals has never been easier. There are amazing organizations out there that provide invaluable resources, networking opportunities, and even online courses. By attending workshops and joining online communities, you can surround yourself with like-minded creatives who share your passion for children's picture books. These supportive spaces offer a focused and nurturing environment where you can learn, and grow, as you work towards your goals.

Tip 6: Submit your work to publishers: As my collection of picture books grew, so did my list of dream publishers. It took me a solid year to put together my portfolio and take a leap of faith. And here's the thing: even if I didn't hear back, I kept in touch, continually sharing my latest art. And you know what? Eventually, I got a callback. Koala Books publisher reached out and invited me to showcase my work. Let me tell you, that moment was an absolute game-changer, and I haven't looked back since! It's proof that persistence pays off, my friend.

Tip 7: Continuously improve and learn: Staying in the loop with industry trends, techniques, and technologies is an absolute must. Attend the workshops, dive into courses, and continue leveling up your skills. But here's the thing, with all that’s on offer, don't get lost in the sea of possibilities! Stay true to your bigger picture book goal while sharpening your craft. 

And there you have it, my fellow aspiring children's picture book illustrators! These tips have been crafted from my own journey, filled with ups, downs, and everything in between. 

Remember, becoming a children's picture book illustrator is a magnificent adventure that requires perseverance, passion, and continuous growth.

I'm truly excited to be on this journey with you, and I can't wait to see where your artistic talents take you. Keep dreaming, keep creating, and always hold onto that spark of imagination.

Warmest wishes,

PS – To join the waiting list for my Picture book Illustration e-Course, PBIC LIVE, an 8-week program starting February 2, 2024, CLICK HERE.

PSS – Join me on Instagram! I'll meet you there. I'm so excited to get to know you! 
The best place to dive right in is by visiting my website www.ninarycroft.com


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