Ask the Art Prof: How Do I Become a Children’s Book Illustrator?


Maurice Sendak, “Where the Wild Things Are

“Since I was little I have always wanted to be an illustrator for young adult and children’s books. I would like to work freelance on the side, but I really want to try and get a contract with a publishing house; I am at a loss how. Do you have to have an agent, can you just send your work in, do you have to go bring it in person, or what? I’ve looked and looked and looked but I never can find an answer, and I’m desperate!”

The number one must-have book that will get you going is the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market. Published annually, this book is THE resource if you want to be an illustrator for children’s books. The book  has detailed articles about every aspect of the business, (including how to assemble your materials for submission) up to date contact information for agents and publishers, as well as interviews will established children’s book illustrators and writers. I won’t get into all of the details here, as this book will provide literally everything you need to know about getting established as a children’s book illustrator.


To briefly answer your question about agents, it is very possible to get work without an agent.  At the same time though, there are many advantages to having an agent.  Children’s books is an extraordinarily competitive field that is highly saturated with thousands of artists who are trying to break in. If you find the right fit, agents can provide a launching pad for you and provide contacts and networking that you would not otherwise be able to quickly establish on your own. Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market includes tons of information about agents, including their contact information and will provide the information you need to make the decision on your own.

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

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5 thoughts on “Ask the Art Prof: How Do I Become a Children’s Book Illustrator?

  1. I am an artist and am illustrating a childs book now and loving it . I would love to do more but I am alittle slow on the computer and have minimal knowledge of how to do all this .What happened to the old fasion way of doing business and how can I possible make it in this world at this point. Is there some way I can find someone to talk to on the phone to help me through this maze. I would way rather be spending my time doing art work than trying To figure this all out by myself. please help .

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