Children’s book illustrators
It’s crucial to get your opening image right
Bring your words to life, and get in touch with us today. We’ll be able to put you in touch with the right illustrator for you, quickly and efficiently, who will help you turn your story idea into an actual book. They’ll be able to work with you on the storyboard process, illustrations, and book design. They can also help you to check the final book and, if needed, liaise with the printers to ensure the image quality is spot on.
These 100% original and unique designs will help your new title to stand out from the crowd. Not only is this great for standing out as individual and bespoke, but it also means you can build your identity using these illustrations across all your branding and marketing to create a strong, cohesive style that will help readers to instantly recognise you.
We’ll be able to put you in touch with the right illustrator for you
Click to view each illustrator’s full portfolio
What is a children’s book illustrator?
Children’s book illustrators are an under-appreciated art form. Whether it’s a children’s picture book or longer chapter stories with a handful of colorful illustrations, they take the words and bring them to life.
Children’s literature is part of everyday life for children and adults alike and makeup what is hopefully a happy childhood.
The illustrations can make or break a story
Illustrations can make or break a story or book, so it is important to know how to find illustrators and to ensure that the right illustrator is chosen for the job.
A good illustrator will have the ability to take something simple and turn it into something imaginative. They should also know how to use color in a way that works with picture books.
Drawing on experience
They interpret the story from within their own imagination through the use of traditional and/or digital art, often cherry-picking skills from their experience of line drawing, fine art, graphic design and any other type of art and illustrating they may have used at some point in their art history.
They create new worlds through their artwork and characters for you to become involved in, as well as believable scenery for the stories they work on. And all this without you even being aware of their existence.
It can be difficult
It can be a difficult job, the illustrator’s role is to paint pictures that breathe life into the words on the pages; sometimes it’s hard to judge whether they have been successful or not, you only truly know if they have done their job well when the story is finished and you put down the book.
So who are the people that create these worlds? And what do they get out of it: fame, fortune or just a wage at the end of the week?
How to begin a career creating children’s book illustration?
The best way to begin your career as a children’s book illustrator is to simply start sketching.
Some of the work I saw as a child in my younger years had a lasting impression, from a featured illustrator from a popular story to creative, quirky illustrations on a random book cover.
So as a young boy, I created my own books and stories using my favorite reference from both author and illustrator.
All of this illustration, artwork and endless portfolio work would eventually lead to the publication of my first book, surely?
As a child, one of my fondest childhood memories is that of using my imagination to produce artwork for the main character, in a fairy tale world, using colored pencils. The creation of this first story book in my opinion was the start of my career as a freelance illustrator, dreaming one day that I would indeed become one of a child’s favorite children’s book illustrators.
Still working on it
I haven’t quite got there yet but I have had some of my children’s book illustration work published, so although not classed as one of the best illustrators, nor am I award winning, I still make a good living from illustrations and continue to build my art portfolio as I go.
My favorite thing in my career is still receiving a brief for a book cover that is to be drawn for a project. When this then leads to the work continuing on throughout the inner pages it’s happy days and time to get fully engrossed!
Famous illustrators of picture books
We all know many world famous authors, but do we have a favorite, world famous children’s book illustrator and how many do we actually know? One illustrator, two illustrators?…probably more than you think.
To list some of the best known illustrators in the publishing industry please take a look at some of my favorites from the following.
Most of these listed will have numerous illustrator awards to their name, and award winning will have become second nature to them, but each one’s illustrations are unique in style so it goes to show that successful illustrators all need a certain amount of luck to become a popular children’s book illustrator.
People’s opinions differ
Children’s book illustration is subjective and not everyone has the same favorite children’s book illustrators:
Top 5 Illustrators of children’s books
- Beatrix Potter
- Axel Scheffler
- Charles M. Schultz
- Quentin Blake
- Maurice Sendak
Helen Beatrix Potter (Illustrator)
Helen Beatrix Potter (July 28, 1866 – December 22, 1943) was an English author and illustrator who wrote and illustrated children’s books. She is best known for her stories about anthropomorphized illustrations of animals.
Born into an upper-middle-class household, she lived much of her life isolated from other children and reliant upon the close attention of adults.
From the age of three until well into her twenties, she spent much time outdoors observing nature and exploring her rural surroundings.
Her passion for art, illustration and painting as well as writing began at five years old with an interest in fungi that would develop to the study of mycology and natural history in adulthood.
Potter’s career in writing was launched with the publication in 1907 of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”, a tale about a mischievous and disobedient rabbit. The story was an immediate success amongst readers, both in England and in the United States where she also published it under the name “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” (1908).
She continued to produce several illustrated books before World War I that were popular among children.
After the death of her father in 1913, she wrote less but illustrated books for other authors and published a single volume of poetry.
In the interwar years, Potter became interested in standing for elected office, an idea that was met with disapproval from members of both political parties. Beginning in 1941, she worked on the illustrations for “Fantastic Mr Fox” which was published in 1943 as the last of Potter’s 20 books.
When Potter died in December 1943 at age 77, she was considered to be an eccentric recluse by local villagers and people knew little about her private life.
She left almost all of her property to the National Trust so that it could be preserved for the nation and used for charitable purposes.
Axel Scheffler (Kids Illustration Work)
Axel Scheffler is an illustrator and animator from Germany. He was born on 12 December 1957 in Hamburg, West Germany.
He originally studied art at the University of Hamburg but decided to drop out. He moved to England in 1982 when he was 25 years old to study Visual Communications at the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, Wiltshire. It was during these years that Scheffler decided to work hard on his portfolio and become an illustrator.
Amongst many projects, Axel has been commissioned by Faber and Faber to provide illustrations for a new edition of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats which commemorates the 70th anniversary of the book and the 80th anniversary of the company, as well as being commissioned by Royal Mail to illustrate a set of stamps for Christmas 2012.
However, his most famous work is still that of his children’s book illustrations for The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, which has gained more than 13 million book sales to date.
He currently lives in London where he continues to work as a freelance illustrator from his studio, creating artwork for many a project. We’ll no doubt be seeing lots of other books drawn for his following of children for years to come.
Charles M. Schultz (Illustrations for both kids and grown ups)
Charles M. Schultz was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on November 26, 1904. The oldest of three children, he was the son of a house painter. His mother had been sick for much of his childhood and when she died from cancer during Charles’ high school years, it was a turning point in his life.
He started focusing on sketching, art and illustration and soon after won a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago. After two years there he moved to California and began work as a motion graphics, illustrator for Walt Disney as an in-between artist/illustrator on the 1928 classic “Steamboat Willie.”
Charles M. Schultz’ first job was drawing illustrations for in-betweens for Steamboat Willie. He was paid $55 per week with an option to buy a share of the film. All in all, he earned $175 dollars from his illustration work for this movie (that’s about $3,500 in today’s money).
After working on ‘Steamboat Willie’ Charles Schultz would go on to work as an illustrator on nearly all of Disney’s early classics including “Plane Crazy”, “The Gallopin’ Gaucho”, “The Skeleton Dance” and “The Old Mill”.
Charles Schultz moved to Southern California with his first wife, Joyce, in 1942. After moving there Charles took a job at the Lockheed Aircraft plant as an aircraft assembler though he was still working on illustrated comics on the side. In 1944 he met his future wife, Kathryn, when she requested a custom, illustrated birthday card from Schultz. Soon after, he would give up his job at Lockheed to concentrate on funny characters illustrations full time.
For the next several years Schultz focused on making illustrated comics as a career. He would create “Li’l Folks”, which was published by Dell Comics. In 1947, ” Li’l Folks” became a daily four-panel strip called “Peanuts”. The strip gained popularity and Charles M. Schultz’s characters grew in number and popularity with its readers over the years.
In 1950, Schultz married his second wife, Jeannie. They had five children together: Jill, Craig, Amy, Meredith and Brian. By 1960 Peanuts was being illustrated and published in over 2,600 newspapers worldwide and would go on to become one of the most popular illustration strips of all time. In 2000 Charles M. Schultz would be awarded the first of his record four Presidential Medals of Freedom.
Charles M. Schultz died on February 12, 2000, after a battle with prostate and colon cancer. He was considered a major influence in modern cartoon illustration and many other comic artists have cited him as an inspiration for their illustration work.
Quentin Blake (children’s book illustrations)
Quentin Blake was born on December 16th, 1932. He is a British illustrator and studied at the Reading School of Art from 1949 to 1953 when he won his first prize for decorative design.
In 1958 he started his graphic arts career when he became an editorial illustrator at The Observer. Some of his most popular works are 18 written by Roald Dahl. He has illustrated over 300 books that have been awarded numerous awards internationally and at home for his work as a children’s illustrator. This includes winning the biennial international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2002 which is awarded to creators and illustrators of children’s books, making him the first British Children’s Laureate from 1999 to 2001.
In 2007 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his illustration work and his services to children’s literature.
Most famous work
His most famous illustration work includes the unique characters created for Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr Fox, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The BFG and George’s Marvellous Medicine.
Maurice Sendak (story illustration for a child)
Maurice Sendak is one of the most famous children’s book illustrators. He has won the Caldecott Medal on three occasions and two Hans Christian Andersen awards for his illustrations in books like “Where the Wild Things Are” (1963), “In the Night Kitchen” (1970) and “Outside, Over There” (1981).
His bold, expressive and use of vibrant colors in his children’s book illustrations, which are often quite abstract, have made him a very influential artist.
In 1957 Sendak moved to the USA where he met and collaborated with writers like Else Minarik, Ruth Krauss and his close friend, author Maurice Hancoff. He worked as an illustrator for publishers including Harper & Row from 1961 to 1963, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich from 1967 to 1970, and Random House from 1973 until his death in 2012.
Sendak’s art has inspired many other artists, including the American alternative cartoonist Robert Crumb who illustrated a limited edition version of “Higglety-Pigglety Pop!” in 2005.
He is also widely acknowledged for having influenced Neil Gaiman (credited as the illustrator of “Coraline” in 2002) and David Wiesner (who chose Sendak as his ‘hero’ for a Children’s Literature course at Syracuse University in New York City).
How much does it cost to hire an illustrator for a children’s book?
The first thing to look at is the cost of hiring an illustrator. There is no set price, it all depends on the market value for a children’s book illustrator in your area.
Without knowing the style, the artist required and the content you want creating it’s impossible to quote as it would be when building a house for example.
You wouldn’t just ask, how much is it to build a house? You’d need to specify what materials you wanted, the number of rooms, what style and finish you required and a quote would then be created accordingly.
However, a rough guide though is that a page for a picture book will cost £350-600 (or $450-$800) and for chapter books, it will cost £200-300 ($250-$400) per page. (And a book cover can command more).
If you want a quality product you need to allow the artist time to work on it. Expecting an illustration for £20 would mean spending just 30 minutes on a piece that is highly unlikely to be usable. Realistically and depending on the style, an artist would ask for around a half-day to a day to create a sketch and amend accordingly based on a client’s feedback and then a further day or two to colour and finish. You can now see where the fee of around £300 an illustration comes from.
Do I need to get a contract?
You should always have a contract. This is a legal document that establishes the relationship between you and your illustrator, as well as any conditions or limits on what they are expected to do for you.
How much do children’s book illustrators make?
Illustrators can make a respectable living. It all depends on their output, and whether they have found an author or publisher who will be commissioning them on regular basis – as well as how much each illustration is expected to cost.
As with everything in life, the more you put into it the more you get out of it!
Commissioning an Illustrator
If you have decided to go ahead with the illustrations for your children’s book, then there are a couple of ways to find an illustrator.
Clicking on this link will take you to the full list of artists where you can begin your search for a style. Once you have this decided, you can then begin to look at the number of illustrations you require from the artist and we’ll then be able to work out the price.
Alternatively, if you have a style, in mind, please email a sample in and we’ll find the perfect copy artist to create this work for you.
Your illustrator will be there with you every step of the way, and will also be able to discuss the direction of the story with you, ensuring the images and words meet up hand-in-hand on every page. They’ll be able to talk through character ideas, helping you present them in an eye-catching, intriguing and memorable way. You will also be able to discuss with them the finer details, such as mannerisms, emotions and actions, to truly bring your tale to life. The final result will be a book that you and your young audience love – and maybe even the adults too!
Call or e-mail us now to find out more about our children’s book illustrators.