HOT ART: An interview with Vancouver illustrator Kiki Falconer

A video by Chris Bentzen interviewing Vancouver illustrator Kiki Falconer

In today’s digital age, the illustrator is no longer just an artist but also a tech-savvy professional who works with the latest digital tools to tell visual stories that sell, inform or simply entertain.

Illustrators combine their creative spirits with an exquisite eye for style to design and produce original images for everything from greeting cards, children’s books and calendars to fashion, product packaging and advertising.

Some illustrators work as designers of visual arts for advertising agencies and publishers, while others are employed in a wide range of fields like retail, business and all areas of entertainment including video gaming, film and music.

The main asset of a successful illustrator in landing a job is a unique, strong and up-to-date portfolio that showcases samples of their best work in an eye-appealing format.

Key Skills

  • Drawing and visual arts skills
  • Creative problem solving and adaptability
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Eye for style and design
  • Self-promotion
  • Ability to meet deadlines and work under pressure
  • Self-motivation
  • Good communication and negotiation skills
  • Interpersonal and people skills

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Meeting with clients to discuss their needs and identify target audience
  • Designing and developing preliminary designs to get client’s approval
  • Using drawing, painting, sketching and graphic skills to produce illustrations
  • Meeting with clients throughout the creative process to get their feedback and make changes if necessary
  • Keeping tech skills up-to-date and experimenting with new tech design tools

Education Pathways

Post-secondary institutions realize the importance of a strong portfolio in landing a job as an illustrator. That’s why they provide courses on portfolio creation to make you stand out from the crowd with potential employers. Some programs also offer internship opportunities for illustrators to enhance their practical and portfolio skills in order to get them job-ready by graduation. Here are some examples:

  • The Bachelor of Illustration program at Sheridan College is a four-year applied degree program that stresses hands-on learning and portfolio creation. It provides graduates with professional experience during a 14-week work term and teaches them how to tell stories and communicate ideas visually through both traditional and digital media.
  • The Illustration program at OCAD University lets students work closely with a faculty of practicing illustrators. Throughout their studies, students develop conceptual thinking and discover their individualistic voice while also acquiring business and entrepreneurship skills.
  • The Independent Illustration program at Seneca College has a four-semester long curriculum and is suited for those who want to work as freelance illustrators. It provides students with an opportunity to create and register their own small business before graduating.

It is strongly recommended that you compile a portfolio of projects and works that demonstrate your artistic talent. The choice of a candidate is based almost exclusively on talent. In this sense, being self-taught is not an obstacle.

Annual Salary

$40,000 - $50,000
Source: Living in Canada, Graphic Designer Salary Canada

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