Take a Course (or Get a Degree)
Read Books & Learn the Process
Practice, Practice, PracticeThose that want to take illustrating from a hobby to a job will need to develop a strong portfolio of work. This portfolio should be unique but also demonstrate that you have mastered a number of techniques. Draw from real life, photos, and what you envision in your head. You should compile a traditional portfolio and consider putting your work online, where it is more easily viewed by a wider audience. Just make sure your website is professional looking and easy to navigate so it doesn't do your work a disservice.
NetworkMost illustrators are freelancers, and they work on a serial array of projects. You’ll have more luck finding work if you put your networking skills into action. Attend shows, conferences, and job fairs; these are typically held at art colleges. Art directors and others are more likely to take a chance on you if they meet you in person and shake your hand, and if they get a sense that you’ll be a pleasure to work with.
Join Professional GroupsDepending on the type of illustration you’re into, there may be a professional group out there supporting and catering to illustrators of your stripe. There’s the more general Society of Illustrators and the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators. Other illustration areas such as architecture and fashion illustration also have their own professional groups. These groups can make you aware of job opportunities and news in the industry; they also often give out prizes and awards.
Bear Skin Rug