How to Become an Illustrator

Spoiler Alert: It’s Not Going to Be Easy

Tom Froese
11 min readFeb 18, 2022

I am literally in the business of helping people become illustrators. Most of what I earn comes from teaching illustration on Skillshare. I also support my teaching efforts with a YouTube channel, a Patreon and a Discord server.

Over the past few years, I have found myself speaking to many creative people hoping to build a career around illustration. I think a lot of my audience appreciates my willingness to share insights, both on my personal approach to illustration and, more broadly, working in this industry.

A distinguishing feature of my content, whether on Skillshare, YouTube or elsewhere, is how I try to make the world of commercial illustration as accessible as possible. I want to help people feel welcomed into this industry. I want people to feel less insecure about their current inadequacies, real or perceived, and to enter into the journey with a sense of welcome and adventure.

My classes, for instance, aim to be both highly challenging and personally meaningful for anyone looking to develop their skills in illustration. I try to make the concepts I am teaching as accessible as possible regardless of skill or experience. (At the same time, those who have more of an artistic background and experience with art, graphic design, or illustration will get the most of my classes, but this is almost a truism.)

It might seem contradictory, then, for me to now come out and say this: there are no easy steps to becoming an illustrator. If you want to become a successful, practicing illustrator, you are going to have to put in the time. How much time? Probably years.

For someone who aims to encourage and welcome everybody who wants to learn illustration, why would I say something so discouraging?

It comes from what seems to be a common thread amongst many of the illustration learners in my community right now. A few people I have spoken with this week have asked the question: how can I get to that…



Tom Froese

Illustrator. Creatively Empowering Teacher/Speaker. Represented by Making Pictures/UK & Dot Array/USA. Top Teacher on @skillshare.