If visual effects are your passion, graphic designers and illustrators will be your dream jobs. But you can only follow one career path. Which should you choose?
Both use their skills and creativity to create images. No matter how similar they sound, you will experience different things from the two jobs.
To help you make an informed decision, we will compare an illustrator and a graphic designer side-by-side. Let’s follow this guide to determine your favorite!
Illustrators are visual artists. They use the media to express their ideas attractively. Hence, companies and individuals need them to entertain and interact with audiences.
Illustrators play important roles in these fields:
- Product decoration: Customers will look at a product’s package and appearance before buying. As a result, illustrations can work as a selling point.
- Branding: Companies and individuals need marketing strategies to develop and maintain their brands. So they need illustrations to attract audiences.
- Artistic employment: Design is popular these days. Many people want artwork made by professional illustrators to make their new artwork.
- Text accompaniment: Texts will look much more entertaining and gorgeous when paired with well-designed images.
Graphic designers are also visual media experts. They help convey the message that companies and individuals simply use images.
Some graphic designers create artwork by hand. But most prefer using graphic software to achieve a remarkable visual effect.
Graphic design is prevalent these days in many fields. For example:
- Branding: The logos, images, fonts, and color palettes are all products of graphic design.
- Product marketing: Each product demands a different image. Graphic designers are in charge of generating different styles for each.
- Public communication: Graphic designers use images as languages to communicate with the public.
- Campaigns: A campaign requires a series of images for promotion. Graphic designers will be responsible for the visuals in the project.
Illustrators and graphic designers both produce artwork. However, they use different tools and have different roles. Hence, you will also notice the difference in their learning curves, duties, salaries, and many more.
Illustrators learn skills in painting, drawing, and other digital illustration methods. Moreover, they should have deep knowledge of advertising, editorial, and more.
Meanwhile, graphic designers focus on developing visual designs that successfully convey a message. Design fundamentals like composition, color theory, typography, and layout can help with this task. Besides, they should learn about marketing, branding, and user experience for their jobs.
The similarity between these jobs is that they both use software, such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign.
There may be overlaps between illustrators and graphic designers. However, the duties are different.
For example, illustrators create original art to communicate messages. In contrast, graphic designers create visual designs to convey an idea or message.
Specifically, the basic duties of an illustrator are:
- Project consultation
- Contract negotiation
- Sketch production
The case for a graphic designer is different as their daily duties include the following:
- Client consultation
- Font design
- Graphic creation
There are potential career paths for both illustrators and graphic designers. For example, if you study illustration, your options include the following:
- Children’s book illustrator
- Editorial illustrator
- Advertising illustrator
- Scientific illustrator
- Product packaging illustrator
- Concept artist for gaming and animation
- Comic book artist
- Visual artist for movies
- Book cover artist
On the other hand, if you love graphic design, you can apply for these positions:
- Brand identity designer
- Advertising designer
- Marketing designer
- Web designer
- User experience designer
- Publication designer
- Motion graphics designer
- Environmental designer
- Art director
According to our latest report, the average wage of graphic designers was around $66,687. Meanwhile, that figure for illustrators was approximately $59,300.
However, the salary for those jobs varies depending on factors such as skill level, experience, location, and industry. In general, both graphic designers and illustrators are well-paid jobs.
Graphic design has a better job outlook because it’s a broader field. Most industries need their artwork to create visual materials in branding, web design, marketing, and user experience.
On the contrary, illustration is a specialized sector. Hence, industries with demand for this job are pretty limited. You can only focus on advertising, publishing, or editorial to find an ideal job.
Graphic designers can work in various settings. For example, if they like to work independently, they can have their own personal office and join freelancing projects.
When employed by an organization, graphic designers may work for their department. Some find jobs in graphic design studios where they partner with other creatives to serve the needs of their clients.
On the other hand, some illustrators can get full-time employment and work in studios or corporate companies. Nevertheless, most are freelancers.
|Learning Curves||Illustration (drawing, painting, etc.)||Graphic design (drawing, marketing, user experience, etc.)|
|Client consultation |
|Career Paths||Children’s book illustrator |
Product packaging illustrator
Concept artist for gaming and animation
Comic book artist
Visual artist for movies
Book cover artist
|Brand identity designer|
User experience designer
Motion graphics designer
|Job Outlooks||Lower demand||Higher demand|
|Work Environments||Mostly freelancers||Various environments|
Both illustrators and graphic designers are high-paying jobs and have high demand. Your decision will, therefore, depend on your preference and goals.
If you love drawing and making unique characters, the illustration will be more suitable for you. However, if you want to design layouts, typography, and numerous visual elements for marketing purposes, you may prefer graphic design.
Do you like a more specialized job or a flexible job? For example, illustrators are specialized in drawing. Often, you will work on long-term projects.
On the other hand, graphic design gives you a wider range of work opportunities. Besides, most of your projects are short-term.
Illustrators are specialized jobs because they only work with original artwork. Meanwhile, graphic designers create visual products to serve marketing purposes.
Interestingly, some people work as both illustrators and graphic designers. So consider your preference and talent carefully before opting for the right path.