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Finding an Illustrator for a Children’s Book

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You did it, you finished writing a children’s book! Now what? For children’s book authors, the next step is hiring an illustrator to add illustrations, drawings, or images to your work. But how do you find the right children’s book illustrator for hire who can translate your writing into the visuals you’ve imagined? It starts with knowing your vision and setting a budget, then you can begin to scout for talent, iron out a contract, and collaborate. Soon enough, you’ll have a book with beautiful images jumping right off of the pages!

Do I Need an Illustrator for a Children’s Book?

Children’s books aren’t complete without pictures. Not only do these better tell the story, but it also promotes kids’ visual thinking and helps them develop their literacy skills. So unless you are willing to learn how to illustrate your own children’s book, then hiring an illustrator is essential to complete the work.

What to Look for in a Children’s Book Illustrator

An illustrator bears a huge responsibility of bringing your words to life, so you must find an artist that not only matches your vision but one that can deliver it. Here are some things to consider when looking for an illustrator:

Style and Medium

Style and medium are the primary deciding factors when hiring an illustrator. Style refers to an artist’s distinct creative form or design (it can be dark, funky, fun, etc.), while medium refers to the type of output they’re most comfortable with, such as drawing, photography, and digital art, among others.

Most illustrators will have an already established stype for themselves and often prefer to remain in that creative sphere. So make sure that you hire one with a style and medium that matches what you want in your book. 


Illustrating for a children’s book takes a lot of collaboration. You can’t just give an artist a brief and expect them to get it perfect right off the bat (though it’s possible, and if this happens, you found yourself a great illustrator!). There will likely be a lot of feedback and revisions required, so your illustrator must have solid communication skills to ensure that your vision is properly realized.


Hiring a seasoned professional in the industry can help get you a bit of publicity, which could lead to your book taking off even before it hits the ground. However, this can cost a premium.

It doesn’t hurt to hire a newbie illustrator, especially if his or her previous work is good and the service is right in your budget. Just be sure to do some proper vetting so that you’re confident he or she is someone you’d want to be associated with your name and your work.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Children’s Book Illustrator?

There’s no one set rate for children’s books illustrators. The cost of the service of a children’s book illustrator for hire is dependent on several factors:

  • Scope of work (number of pages and illustrations)
  • Complexity of illustrations
  • Illustrator’s training and experience
  • Timeline
  • Compensation agreement (e.g. royalties)

Normally, though, you can expect to spend between $1500 to $3000 (but potentially even up to $12,000!) on average for a 32-page book. Depending on the agreement, this rate may or may not include the cover illustration. That said, you can definitely find some illustrators, particularly new ones looking to build their portfolio, who will agree to work for as low as $500 for a project. 

How to Hire a Children’s Book Illustrator

Before hiring an illustrator, you must get all of your book details sorted out. That goes beyond just finishing the written work; it includes knowing the size of your book, the form you’ll be publishing in (hardback, softback, or e-book), and the date of publication. These are some information points that you must know and be able to convey to a potential illustrator in order to land a mutual and fruitful partnership. Once you’ve got that down-pat, you can begin the next steps of hiring a children’s book illustrator:

Set a Budget

You can find illustrators offering their services at both high and low price points, so the only way to narrow down your prospects is to set a budget yourself. Pick a price point that you’re comfortable with, both in terms of spending and knowing what you’ll likely get in return.

Know Where to Look

There are many places to look for illustrators, from publishing agencies to illustrator networks, or even on online job platforms, like here at Guru. You just need to know which avenue you’d like to pursue in order to find the right artist for your needs.

Match Your Style Preference

You must hire an illustrator that matches your style preference—which you should determine even before scouting potential hires. Know what tone, style, and medium you’d like to have conveyed in your book, then scour through the portfolios of different artists to find the one that aligns perfectly with your vision.

Iron Out an Agreement

A contract helps to protect both you and the illustrator, as well as the work exchanged. Iron out an agreement that includes clear details about rates, timelines, deliverables, payments, and ownership agreements. Some illustrators agree to give you full control over the finished work, except for them being able to display it on their portfolios. Meanwhile, other illustrators might ask for royalties if you decide to turn their work into different forms of merchandise.

Keep Communicating

Constant and open communication is essential to ensure that your vision is properly brought to life by your illustrator. Don’t be afraid to give feedback—and communicate visually, i.e. be very specific, when you do so. That will help ensure that the visions you have in your head for your children’s book illustrations, will be exactly what ends up on the page.

Find the Right Illustrator for You

Now, you’ve got an idea of what to look for in an illustrator and how to hire the right one. Use this information to get started on bringing your book to life—and the hands of thousands of kids!

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