Illustrators for Your Children’s Book: How To Find the Perfect Match

Are you creating a children’s book but struggling to find the right illustrator to bring your story to life? 

In this article, we will provide valuable tips and insights on how to find the perfect illustrator for your children’s book, including a discussion on AI generated artwork. From where to look, to how to evaluate their portfolios and previous work, to what questions to ask during the hiring process, we will provide a comprehensive guide to help you find the right match for your book.

Learn more about the illustration process for children’s books in How to illustrate children’s books.

By following our advice, you can ensure that your book’s illustrations are engaging, visually appealing, and support the overall message of the story. Let’s get started!

Narrow Your Search

When searching for potential illustrators for your children’s book project, it’s important to consider the following factors:

Genre and style of your book 

Look for an illustrator who has experience working in your book’s genre and whose style matches the tone and atmosphere of your work. This will ensure that the illustrations are cohesive with the story and appeal to the target audience.

Traditional vs AI-generated art 

Evaluate whether to work with a traditional illustrator or an AI art generator. Traditional illustrators bring their own unique style and personal touch to the project, but may have longer timelines and higher costs. AI art generators can produce illustrations quickly and cost-effectively, but may lack the uniqueness and customization options of traditional illustrations.

Discover the role of AI in publishing children’s books in this must-read post: Illustrating Children’s Books in 2023 with AI.

By carefully evaluating these factors and your needs and goals for your children’s book project, you can make an informed decision on which approach to take when hiring an illustrator.

How To Find A Children’s Book Illustrator

Before you can find the right illustrator for your children’s book, you need to know where to look. Fortunately, there are many platforms and resources available for finding illustrators. Some of the most popular options include:

Online platforms

Behance, Dribbble, Upwork, and other online platforms are excellent places to start your search for an illustrator. These platforms allow you to browse through portfolios and contact potential candidates directly.

Social media

Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are great resources for finding illustrators. Many artists use these platforms to showcase their work, and you can easily browse through their portfolios to get a sense of their style and capabilities.

girl and lion and books cover

Illustrator directories

There are several online directories of illustrators that you can use to find the right artist for your project. Websites like and are great resources to explore. Here are the most popular options (most in the US):

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI): This is one of the most well-known organizations for children’s book writers and illustrators. Their website includes an illustrator gallery where you can browse portfolios and search for artists by location, style, and experience. This online directory allows you to search for illustrators by style, medium, topic, and region. They also offer a job board where you can post job listings and browse resumes.

The Association of Illustrators (AOI): This UK-based organization has a directory of professional illustrators that you can search by name, keyword, or specialty. They also offer legal and business advice for illustrators. This is a comprehensive online directory of illustrators, designers, and photographers. You can search for artists by name, keyword, or specialty, and they offer a range of services for artists and clients.

Behance: This is a popular online platform for creatives to showcase their work, including illustrators. You can search for illustrators by location, field, and specific skills.

Dribbble: This platform is focused on graphic design and illustration, making it a great resource for finding illustrators with a strong design sensibility.

These directories are great for finding professional illustrators with a proven track record. They offer a wide variety of styles, mediums, and specialties, making it easy to find an artist that fits your project’s needs. Additionally, these directories can save you time and effort by providing a curated selection of artists to choose from.

Freelance marketplaces

Freelance marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork are great resources for finding illustrators. You can post your project and receive bids from artists all over the world. However, keep in mind that the quality of work can vary, and it’s essential to screen potential illustrators carefully.

Reedsy: Reedsy is a marketplace that connects authors with freelance professionals, including book illustrators. The platform offers a vetted community of professionals and provides access to a range of services, including illustration, cover design, and editing.

Upwork: Upwork is a popular freelancing platform that connects businesses with freelancers in a wide range of fields, including illustration. You can browse the profiles of thousands of freelance illustrators, and the platform provides tools for project management and communication.

Freelancer: Freelancer is another large marketplace that connects businesses with freelancers. The platform offers a range of services, including illustration, and provides tools for project management and communication.

99designs: 99designs is a platform that connects businesses with designers and illustrators. The platform offers a range of services, including book cover design and illustration, and provides tools for project management and communication.

Guru: Guru is a platform that connects businesses with freelancers in a range of fields, including illustration. The platform offers tools for project management and communication, as well as a range of payment options.

Referrals and word of mouth

Asking for referrals from other authors, publishers, or colleagues in the industry is another effective way to find illustrators. You can also join local artist communities and attend events to connect with potential candidates.

Local art schools, book fairs and events

Many art schools have job boards or career centers that can help connect you with emerging talent in your area.  Book fairs and events are excellent places to meet and network with illustrators. You can talk to them in person, view their portfolios, and get a better sense of their work and style.

Evaluating Portfolios and Previous Work

Once you have a list of potential illustrators, the next step is to evaluate their portfolios and previous work. This can help you determine whether their style and experience align with the needs of your book. Some things to consider when evaluating an illustrator’s work include:

  • Consistency: Look for consistency in style, quality, and technique across the illustrator’s portfolio.
  • Creativity: Assess the illustrator’s creativity and ability to convey emotions and themes through their work.
  • Experience: Look for illustrators who have experience working in your book’s genre and audience.
  • Red flags: Watch out for any red flags in the illustrator’s work, such as inconsistencies or lack of attention to detail.

By taking the time to evaluate an illustrator’s portfolio and previous work, you can find an illustrator who is a perfect match for your children’s book project.

Questions to Ask During the Hiring Process

When hiring an illustrator, it’s essential to ask the right questions to ensure that they can meet your specific needs and expectations. Some essential first questions to ask during the hiring process include:

  1. Can you provide examples of your previous work in this genre or audience?
  2. What is your availability and timeline for the project?
  3. What is your process for creating illustrations and communicating with clients?
  4. How do you handle revisions and feedback?
  5. What are your rates and payment terms?

Once you start to establish a relationship, and consider hiring them, you can ask them more specific questions based on experience and style, the illustration process and timing, and pricing and communication.

Questions related to illustrator’s experience and style

  1. Have you worked with this style of illustration before? Show them what you’re interested in. Study Traditional illustration techniques for creating beautiful illustrations in children’s books. 
  2. Have you had your illustrations published in a children’s book before? If yes, which one(s)?
  3. Can you share some of your previous work that is similar to the style or theme of my book?
  4. What is your preferred media and best style?

Questions related to the illustration process and timing

  1. Can you describe your illustration process and timeline?
  2. What is your availability, and what is your estimated turnaround time for completing the illustrations?
  3. How do you work with authors and publishers to ensure that your illustrations align with the story? 
  4. Are you open to feedback and revisions during the illustration process?
  5. What are your thoughts on incorporating AI or other technology into the illustration process?

Questions related to pricing and communication

  1. What is your pricing structure for illustration work?
  2. How do you prefer to communicate during the illustration process?
  3. Can you provide references from previous clients you’ve worked with?

It’s also essential to get a sense of the illustrator’s personality and ensure that you feel comfortable working with them.

Do’s and Don’ts For Hiring Illustrators for Children’s Book

Here are some dos and don’ts when hiring an illustrator for your children’s book:


  • Review their previous work to ensure that their style is appropriate for your target audience and fits your vision for the book.
  • Be upfront and respectful about your budget to avoid any miscommunications or surprises later on.
  • Establish a reasonable schedule for the illustrator to complete the work and make sure they are comfortable with the timeline.
  • Inquire about any existing illustrations in their back-catalog that may suit the theme of your book and could be licensed for use.
  • Commission a few sample pages first to assess the illustrator’s reliability and suitability before committing to the entire book.


  • Ask an illustrator to replicate the style of another artist, especially if you cannot afford to hire that artist directly.
  • Settle for an illustrator simply because they offer the cheapest rates or the fastest turnaround. High-quality illustrations take time and skill, and their cost reflects that.
  • Dictate exactly what each image should look like. Trust the illustrator’s creative abilities and give them room to work.

Hiring an Illustrator: Traditional vs. AI Art

When searching for an illustrator, authors have the option of the use of traditional illustrators versus AI art generators. AI-generated illustrations can be a cost-effective and time-efficient way to create illustrations for smaller projects or tight budgets.  AI-generated illustrations can be a valuable tool for authors and illustrators to generate basic sketches or ideas that human illustrators can then refine and enhance. 

It’s important for authors to consider their specific needs and goals when deciding which approach to take, and to carefully evaluate potential illustrators to ensure they have the skills and experience needed for the project. 

Authors can make an informed decision and hire the right illustrator for their children’s book project by weighing the pros and cons of each approach.  Here are some things to consider:

Traditional Illustrators


  • Unique Style: Traditional illustrators bring their own unique style and creative vision to the project, creating illustrations that are one-of-a-kind.
  • Personalized Touch: Working with a traditional illustrator allows for a more personalized and collaborative approach, with the author and illustrator working together to create the artwork.
  • Tangible Mediums: Traditional mediums such as watercolors and acrylics offer a tactile experience and a unique aesthetic.


  • Longer Timeline: Working with a traditional illustrator may take longer, as there are many manual steps involved in the process.
  • Higher Costs: Traditional illustrators may charge higher rates due to the time and resources required to create the illustrations.
  • Limited Revisions: With traditional illustrations, there is limited room for revisions and changes once the artwork is complete.

AI Art Generators

One of the most exciting developments in AI is the emergence of programs like DALL-E, MidJourney, and Stable Diffusion that can create original illustrations entirely on their own.

These AI programs use sophisticated algorithms and machine learning techniques to generate illustrations based on prompts or parameters set by the user. For example, DALL-E can create unique and complex illustrations based on text descriptions, while MidJourney and Stable Diffusion can generate illustrations based on specific styles or themes.

Check out this article for best AI art generators.

protecting the environment on an island book cover


  • Speed and Efficiency: AI art generators can produce illustrations quickly and efficiently, saving time and resources.
  • Endless Possibilities: AI art generators offer endless possibilities in terms of style and design, with many presets and options to choose from.
  • Cost-effective: AI art generators are generally more cost-effective than working with traditional illustrators.


  • Lack of Uniqueness: AI-generated artwork may lack the unique style and personal touch of traditional illustrations.
  • Limited Customization: AI-generated artwork may have limited customization options, with presets and options predetermined by the software.
  • Potential for Generic Results: AI-generated artwork may lack the artistic flair and creativity of traditional illustrations, resulting in more generic results.

Hybrid Illustration: Combining AI and Human Illustrations

Hybrid illustration is the concept of combining traditional illustration techniques with AI art generators to create unique and innovative illustrations. It’s an emerging trend in the publishing industry that offers the benefits of both traditional and AI illustration techniques. Here are some benefits of hybrid illustration:

  • Creativity: Hybrid illustration allows for more creative freedom by combining the unique perspectives and skills of both human illustrators and AI art generators.
  • Efficiency: AI art generators can speed up the illustration process, allowing human illustrators to focus on the creative aspects of the illustrations.
  • Customization: Hybrid illustration allows for more customization options, as human illustrators can make adjustments to the illustrations created by the AI art generators.
  • Consistency: AI art generators can create illustrations that are consistent in style and quality, ensuring that the illustrations in the book have a cohesive look.

When considering hybrid illustration for your children’s book, it’s important to find an illustrator with experience in both traditional and AI illustration techniques. The process of creating hybrid illustrations can be complex, and it’s essential to find an illustrator who can seamlessly integrate both techniques.

In conclusion, the key to finding the right illustrator for your children’s book is to do your research, ask the right questions, and consider all your options. Whether you choose a traditional illustrator, an AI art generator, or a hybrid approach, the goal is to create illustrations that capture the imagination of young readers and bring your story to life.

two boys backpack in jungle book cover

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