It takes a tremendous amount of talent to create eye-catching illustrations, but in today’s competitive world of art, it takes more than talent to land a lucrative position. Top employers are looking for candidates with extraordinary talent, experience, and a degree in illustration or a related field. To be a successful illustrator, you must also have advanced computer skills, as many careers in the field require the use of industry-specific software.
Just a few career options for illustrators include advertising illustrator, children’s book illustrator, video game illustrator, animator, storyboard artist, editorial illustrator, fashion illustrator, and fine artist. Illustration services are in such high demand that other industries, such as law and medicine, offer opportunities for talented illustrators. Just a few options include courtroom illustrator, medical illustrator, and technical illustrator.
In the state of Tennessee, aspiring illustrators may find employment in the areas listed above, and then some. Just a few employment options include The Tombras Group (Knoxville), Magnetic Dreams Animation Studio (Nashville), GS&F (Nashville), Zoe Creative Services (Nashville), Paradigm Marketing & Creative (Memphis),
NorthStar Studios, (Nashville), Scripps Networks (Knoxville), Funnypages Productions (Franklin), and Launch Studio (Knoxville). Aspiring illustrators may also find employment at a variety of art centers, community colleges, and four-year schools. Just a few options include Knoxville’s Jubilee Community Arts Cultural Center (JCA), The Art Institute of Tennessee (Nashville), The Tennessee Community System, and Memphis College of Art (MCA).
Tennessee Illustration Schools
From traditional universities such as the University of Tennessee at Martin to art and design schools such as Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, Tennessee’s large collection of colleges is diverse and most are nationally ranked. This means, students will have no problems finding a top school with a competitive illustration program. Although only a handful of Tennessee schools offer programs for illustrators, these excellent colleges are at the top of the list of “best schools in the region” for this in demand major.
Austin Peay State University - Degrees Offered: B. F. A. Art with Concentration in Visual Communications, Studio Arts with Concentration in Digital Media, Illustration
Watkins College of Art, Design & Film – Degrees Offered: B. A. Art; B. F. A. Fine Art, Film, Graphic Design with Concentration in Illustration or Web Design
More Tennessee Illustration related programs to consider:
- Atlanta, Georgia; Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and SCAD eLearning
Employment and Salary Trends for Tennessee Illustrators
According to the latest report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (March 27, 2012), Tennessee is home to 25,390 salaried artists and designers, up from 24,780 in 2002. They average $45,380 per year, up from $36,200 in 2002. Of Tennessee’s 25,000+ salaried artists and designers, as of 2008, sixty were salaried fine artists, down from 100 in 2002. They averaged $53,480 per year as of March 27, 2012, up from $41,160 in 2002.
It is important to note that many fine artists (illustrators) work independently, so the community is much larger than the reported 60 artists. The Bureau reports that the average salary for independent artists is $51,340. The average salary for independent illustrators is $49,930. Still, according to the Bureau, “earnings for self-employed artists vary widely.”
Whether independent or salaried, entry-level illustrators can expect to earn as much as the lowest paid salaried illustrators ($19,150), while seasoned illustrators (independent or salaried) may earn more than the highest paid salaried illustrators ($90,050). In addition to experience, however, other factors such as job title, type and size of the company, industry, and even geographic location may affect earnings.
While illustrators can find employment in most Tennessee cities, some of the most lucrative positions can be found in principle cities including Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga Clarksville, Murfreesboro, Jackson, Johnson City, Franklin, and Bartlett. Although smaller than the cities listed, other places to consider include Hendersonville, Kingsport, Cleveland, Collierville, Germantown, and Smyrna.