5 Things I'm Glad I knew Before Becoming A Full-time Illustrator

It took me many years to be comfortable to get into illustrating full-time, and even now I have a casual job to supplement my income. It's honestly up to you how you do it, there is no shame either way.

Read on to find out 5 things I learnt before taking the plunge. 

Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop

I learnt the adobe suite while on the job at various roles throughout Melbourne, Vic. This has allowed me to open up more opportunities in the illustration world. I’m able to edit with ease, combine traditional and digital styles and also add the it all to my CV. The more skills you can pick up, the more attractive you’ll look to future employers but also, the more confidence you’ll have in taking the plunge going full-time as a designer or illustrator.

Illustration provided by Aleesha Barton Illustration

Basics of running a business

Over the years I’ve taken courses and had mentoring sessions with various awesome businesses. I completed the NEIS program earlier this year and gained a lot of info about taxes, marketing and building a business plan. Little things like you have to be earning over $75000 per year to pay tax as a Sole Trader. Anything before that and you don’t have to register just yet. But if you do choose to register, then you can claim all business expenses*

I also have taken opportunities within online short courses or mentoring services through business entities in Vic and SA.

Photo courtesy of Eleni Koureas Unsplash

The costs

I would recommend anyone do up a budget and open a new bank account that just has the in-goings and out-goings of the business, separate to your everyday banking. This way it’s easier to see how much you make and how much you spend. I started out purchasing stock for my store ready to send out when purchased, but since realised I’m better printing on demand or selling originals.

How to build a website

I definitely don’t mean HTML for this one. I mean WIX, Wordpress or Square Space kinda websites. I use Shopify, which has been fantastic to work with. Drag and drop style websites are my favourite. I played around with A LOT before taking the plunge with Shopify. A nice neat website should be on the list for any new business, especially as an artist showcasing your work.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash


I’m really glad I have those years of experience as a graphic designer. Not only did I learn the software, but what I do and don’t want to do! I developed my illustration style in mostly supportive environments and learnt how to work within a team. It helped me really see what I could bring to the illustration industry in the way of new ideas and different skills. I loved working in greeting cards, it was fun to play with typography and colour.

*Don’t take my word for this, please check with your accountant or professional maths person.