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Printmakers create printed images from designs cut or etched into wood, stone, or metal. After creating the design, the artist inks the surface of the woodblock, stone, or plate and uses a printing press to troll the image onto paper or fabric. Some make prints by pressing the inked surface onto the paper by hand or by graphically encoding and processing data, using a computer.

Because Printmaking is not a direct process like drawing, and is technique-extensive, Printmakers are problem solvers. They not only need to have ideas, they also have technical problems to solve in order to express their ideas.

Career paths for Printmakers are many and varied. Because of their passion for the print and paper, they naturally gravitate to publishing. Many students can find themselves working in Publishing as Illustrators or as an independent Illustrator.

If Illustration is your chosen career path, the most important skill you have to develop is accurate perceptual drawing (visualization) skills. Digital manipulation without sound knowledge of form is of no value. Ex-printmakers are working in the film industry as storyboard artists, set painters, creators of artifacts within sets.

There are also those who have gravitated to Design – first by joining a Design Studio as an Illustrator and then gaining enough skills to start up on their own. At the Design Indaba this year, it was intriguing to hear (and see) how many designers apply Fine Art strategies to solve design problems.

Design created from print by Jackie Downs

Editorial illustrators

Generally, this is freelance work. The artist illustrates magazine and newspaper articles as well as advertisements. The art director and illustrator decide which important point in the copy should be illustrated. The illustrator then executes a drawing, painting, or collage in a unique personal style to illustrate the focal point of the copy.

Product illustrator

Most often this is freelance work. The artist usually works with advertising agencies. In order to create a finished drawing or painting of a product, precision, drafting ability, and the capacity to render varied materials realistically are required.

Storyboard illustrator

This illustrator may be employed in large ad agencies or may work freelance. Taking the agency Art Director’s roughs, he develops finished drawings for presentation of a potential TV commercial or industrial film to a client. This series of drawings, which illustrates the progress of the action, is called a storyboard. The appropriate dialogue is typed underneath each drawing. This gives the client an idea of how a film might look before the client undertakes the expense of production. This technique can also be used to illustrate a potential TV pilot. Since multiple drawings must be produced within a short period of time, the artist must work rapidly and carefully, using economy of means to suggest detail.


This field of illustration is familiar to everyone. There are as many variations in style as there are cartoonists. Each has a unique humorous or dramatic point of view and the ability to illustrate it in a direct and economical pen and ink technique. In most cases, the ability to write is essential. The cartoonist may do spot drawings or gag or satirical cartoons on a freelance basis. He may have a staff job for a publication, or he may be syndicated as a comic strip artist or political cartoonist. In many cases, the ability to sustain a high level of humor or drama over a long period of time is vital.


The caricaturist is primarily a freelance artist who works for newspapers and magazines, but he may also be called upon to illustrate advertising. While similar to the cartoonist in skill, the caricaturist also has a special ability to emphasise facial and body features in a drawing in order to create a comic but completely recognizable drawing of a particular individual.


The animator has grown in popularity with the tremendous burgeoning of the television medium, and there are many companies who produce for advertising agencies. Another area which we know well is movies dealing specifically with cartoon. There has been a new growth in the use of animation in full-length features, as well as the continuing use of cartoon material.

Fashion illustrators

Fashion illustrators are among others who work only in one subject. They draw models wearing the latest fashions. They also do accessories such as gloves, handbags, and hats. Their artwork appears in catalogs, newspapers, magazines, and television commercials. Most are freelancers.

Freelance illustrators

Freelance illustrators may do many kinds of artwork or they may produce only one kind. As a rule, illustrators work for many clients, instead of one company. They line up jobs and plan their work so that they will be busy but not rushed. Some artists call on art directors, show samples of their work, and get assignments. Other artists hire agents to get work for them. Well-known freelance illustrators have clients who come to them. Freelancing is the aim of many illustrators. Freelancers do all the tasks of the assignment: they get the job, buy supplies, hire models, do the project (from rough sketch to finished illustration), and deliver it.

Technical illustrators

Technical illustrators, who do most of their work in black and white, also use drafting tools and machines. Their work may consist of layouts showing how to install equipment, diagrams for wiring, or perspective and cutaway views of machines. They study blueprints, models, engineers’ drawings, and equipment to make sketches. They often use computer aided design tools.

Medical illustrators

Medical illustration is used in textbooks, magazines, charts, and advertising directed to the medical profession. This work demands both a scientific and an artistic knowledge of anatomy. Precise and accurate draftsmanship combined with a realistic style is necessary.