Hire the Top 3% of Illustrators

Toptal is a marketplace for meeting and hiring a top freelance illustrator. Top companies and startups trust Toptal when they need illustrators for hire on their mission critical design projects.

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Micah Bowers

Illustrators DesignerAdobe PhotoshopAdobe IllustratorDrawingLogotypeLogo DesignBrandingCorporate IdentityUX DesignUI DesignUser Experience (UX)Digital DesignVisual Design

United StatesToptal Member Since January 3, 2016

Micah uses brand design and illustration to tell stories on behalf of his clients. He believes that design must identify a need, stir a desire for change, and shed light on a path that is uniquely helpful, hopeful, and human.

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Patty Castaneda

Illustrators DesignerFigmaWeb UIApp UIUI ComponentsUI DesignUser Interface (UI)User Experience (UX)BrandingMobile UXMobile DesignIcon DesignSaaS

United StatesToptal Member Since June 7, 2017

Patty is a nomadic UI/UX designer who codes a bit and gravitates toward creative strategy, branding, front-end coding, AB testing, and illustration. She's worked with companies such as Kissmetrics, Dice, Roc Nation, and more. Patty designs for user needs and is fond of JTBD for user research and atomic design for iterative prototyping. She believes that people don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole (TL).

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Matt Schroeter

Illustrators DesignerAdobe Premiere ProUI DesignUX DesignWordPress DesignBrandingIcon DesignLogo DesignMobile UIFigmaWebiOS UI DesignUser Experience (UX)

CanadaToptal Member Since February 18, 2016

Matt is an expert in product design, front-end development, illustration, and branding. He often works with global brands and organizations, including the World Health Organization, IDEO, and Uber. His first job was being a photojournalist, working for newspapers to tell stories about people in their communities. He learned to listen intently, welcome other perspectives, be patient, and let ideas grow. Those values still lead him to make quality things today.

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Ciro MacCord

Illustrators DesignerUser Interface (UI)Visual DesignFigmaAdobe PhotoshopDigital DesignWireframingBrandingPrototypingDesign SystemsProduct DesignUI DesignPresentation Design

BrazilToptal Member Since September 15, 2022

Ciro is an experienced Brazilian designer focused on UI and UX. He has more than 15 years of experience in the visual field across a broad range of industries—from illustration to graphic design. Over the last few years, Ciro has been crafting digital experience solutions for companies and startups, placing users at the center of his design process.

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Jackie Jack

Illustrators DesignerPhotoshop CCIllustrator CCLogo DesignBrandingVisual IdentityBrand DesignVisual DesignCreative DirectionAdobe PhotoshopAdobe IllustratorCorporate DesignColor Theory

United StatesToptal Member Since August 18, 2022

Jackie is a passionate designer with over 15 years of experience in branding. He is a dedicated creative thinker with a strong ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously in fast-paced environments. Jackie specializes in brand identities, illustration, and graphic design, always striving to learn more.

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Ruby Henderson

Illustrators DesignerBrandingBooklet DesignPitch DecksLogo DesignBrand GuidelinesBrand StrategySketchAdobe IllustratorAdobe PhotoshopAdobeDigital ArtIllustrator CC

GermanyToptal Member Since August 15, 2022

Ruby is an accomplished brand designer and art director with ten years of multi-disciplinary experience. She specializes in brand identity systems, creative direction, print, typography, and illustration. Ruby's key strength is her ability to blend imaginative, boundary-pushing ideas with data-driven marketing strategies to deliver outstanding results for her clients. Additionally, Ruby is highly attentive to her clients' needs, ensuring their expectations are not only met but exceeded.

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Braian Roberts

Illustrators DesignerFigmaSketchUser Interface (UI)AnimationBranding

ArgentinaToptal Member Since May 1, 2020

Braian is a UX/UI designer with a background in art direction, illustration, and motion graphics and 10+ years of professional experience. He has worked in ticketing and streaming platforms as well as eCommerce sites and mobile apps for dating, medicine, security, and gaming. Braian helps companies achieve their goals through flexibility in the UX/UI process and a user-centered design approach.

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Elizaveta Ishchenko

Illustrators DesignerAdobe IllustratorAdobe PhotoshopWebiOSUI DesignSketchMobile DesignVisual Design

RussiaToptal Member Since July 18, 2019

Lisa is a UX/UI designer with a passion for illustration and a knack for critical thinking. She has nearly a decade of professional experience working with international cross-platform teams and startups, launching them into new markets and helping their marketing campaigns to stand out. She takes a user-centered approach to all aspects of the creative process and she can manage design flow from initial concept to final, polished deliverable.

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Peter Kocur

Illustrators DesignerWeb DesignSketchAdobe IllustratorAdobe PhotoshopBrandingEditorial IllustrationApp UIUser Experience (UX)Corporate Identity

SlovakiaToptal Member Since June 12, 2017

Peter Kocur is a brand and product designer specializing in visualizing concepts and ideas which mostly end up in the areas of branding, product design, interactive design, illustration, or anywhere in between. His work is used by worldwide corporations as well as small businesses. He has a theoretical fine arts background and has studied marketing along with six years of experience from agencies, studios, and freelance work.

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Carmen Nacher

Illustrators DesignerSketchFigmaPhotoshop CCIllustrator CCInDesign CCBrand Identity

GermanyToptal Member Since August 9, 2021

Carmen is a digital designer with eight years of working experience focussing on UI, branding, and illustration. With a background in graphic design, she worked for renamed fashion design clients learning the importance of typography, visual language, composition and care for detail. Bringing her experience to the digital world, Carmen has designed websites, apps, UI assets, and CI guidelines, together with the device of social media campaigns, including illustration and animation.

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Julie Rega

Illustrators DesignerMobile DesignWeb DesignVisual IdentityArt DirectionLogo DesignDigital DesignBrandingiOSWordPressAdobe PhotoshopAdobe Illustrator

United StatesToptal Member Since February 25, 2016

Julie Rega has been a professional graphic designer and art director for 6 years. She's worked full time as a senior designer at a leading non-profit and Victoria's Secret PINK. She is the co-founder and art director of an iOS app called COSIMO that provides location-based audio tours around New York City. She specializes in digital design and marketing, branding and identity, digital illustration and print and environmental design.

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A Hiring Guide

Guide to Hiring a Great Illustrator

Illustrators are experts at creating images that support written content. This guide to hiring illustrators features an overview of relevant skills, job description tips, and interview questions and answers that will help you identify the best candidates for your company.

Read Hiring Guide

98% of Toptal clients choose to hire our talent after a risk-free trial.

Total's screening and matching process ensures exceptional talent are matched to your precise needs.

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Toptal in the press

... allows corporations to quickly assemble teams that have the right skills for specific projects.

Despite accelerating demand for coders, Toptal prides itself on almost Ivy League-level vetting.

Our clients
Building a cross-platform app to be used worldwide
Thierry Jakicevic
Building a cross-platform app to be used worldwide
Creating an app for the game
Conor Kenney
Creating an app for the game
Leading a digital transformation
Elmar Platzer
Leading a digital transformation
Drilling into real-time data creates an industry game changer
Drilling into real-time data creates an industry game changer
What our clients think
Clients Rate Toptal Illustrators4.4 / 5.0on average across 163 reviews as of Oct 23, 2023

Michael is an incredible designer, and has been a great fit for our project. He just gets it in a way that can’t be taught. My goal was to pay Toptal to find me a high quality designer for my project, and that is exactly what happened. It was easy. Being able to see the portfolio work on Toptal’s platform is what gave me the infomation I needed to choose Michael. I have nothing but good things to say about Toptal and am looking forward to using Toptal for other projects in the future.

Edward Daniel, Co-Founder


I've worked very closely with Martina for over a year and have to say she is one of the best people I have ever worked with. Instead of simply following instructions blindly, she thinks through the task at hand, becoming a thought partner to help with whatever the project may be. Besides being super talented at design, she possesses specific qualities that make her exceptional to work with given the fast paced nature of being a startup. I would definitely recommend her to anyone looking for a talented, professional designer who doesn't need much direction to hit the ground running.

Sahil Khanna, Sr. Manager, Marketing

LeanTaaS, Inc.

Darko did a great job figuring out the user architecture for our concept, which led him to produce terrific wireframes. His knowledge of usability and design was a perfect match for the outside voice we needed to help jumpstart our project. We would certainly recommend him and work with him again in the future.

Rich Danker, Founder

Prose Market

Carlos has the unique talent of blending both quantitative and qualitative research to keenly identify UX challenges and opportunities. He thinks methodically, emphatically, and holistically to produce data-driven strategies and well-executed designs. Over the past 8 years of working with fully or partially distributed teams, Carlos manages working remotely far better than anyone I've encountered because of his strong communication and presentation skills. He is the first on my list the next time I need a UX designer.

Michelle Krogmeier, Project Manager

Union Station

Rafael is an amazing designer. His aesthetic sense is spot on, and he seems to be able to anticipate our needs before we even know what they are. He's taken the time to understand both our company and our clientele, and his solutions are consistently in-line with our values, interests, and our customers' needs. He delivers on time (if not earlier), works quickly, is well organized, and very effective. He's a pleasure to work with, and we're very happy to have found him through Toptal.

Ethan Brooks, CTO

Langlotz Patent & Trademark Works, Inc.

Toptal gave us access to the best designers out there. They’re not easy to find. Those designers integrated very quickly with our existing teams. They very quickly understood our business case and the value of our solution. Toptal really allowed us to focus on building the best possible product and save a lot of time on the typical administrative pains that goes with it -- specifically, finding the best talent. Toptal designers were very responsive, always online -- and that made life very easy for us. We have ambitious goals on how to grow the application and already Toptal has been a key contributor to that success.

Thierry Jakircevic, General Manager, Digital Solutions, Bridgestone Head Office, Tokyo

Bridgestone Corporation

We had an amazing experience working with our Toptal designer. In only two weeks, we accomplished what would've taken most companies 3 months to complete. We also enjoyed working with the Toptal team to make sure we were paired up with the right designer that would fit both our company culture and working style.

Ted Blosser, Head of Sales and Customer Success


Dean blew us away. He ranks right up there as one of the top five designers of the hundreds I have worked with in the past. He listened, was totally professional, and came up with a 3D rotating cube design completely on his own. We didn't even ask for it, and yet it has become the centerpiece of our app and how users engage with it right off the bat. What he produced inspired all of us at Votify, and put us on track for launch and investor funding.

Michael Lawrence, Founder & CEO

Votify LLC

How to Hire Illustrators through Toptal


Talk to One of Our Industry Experts

A Toptal director of design will work with you to understand your goals, technical needs, and team dynamics.

Work With Hand-Selected Talent

Within days, we'll introduce you to the right illustrator for your project. Average time to match is under 24 hours.

The Right Fit, Guaranteed

Work with your new illustrator for a trial period (pay only if satisfied), ensuring they're the right fit before starting the engagement.

Find Experts With Related Skills

Access a vast pool of skilled designers in our talent network and hire the top 3% within just 48 hours.


  • How are Toptal illustrators different?

    At Toptal, we thoroughly screen our illustrators to ensure we only match you with talent of the highest caliber. Of the more than 200,000 people who apply to join the Toptal network each year, fewer than 3% make the cut. You’ll work with design experts (never generalized recruiters or HR reps) to understand your goals, technical needs, and team dynamics. The end result: expert vetted talent from our network, custom matched to fit your business needs.

  • Can I hire illustrators in less than 48 hours through Toptal?

    Depending on availability and how fast you can progress, you could start working with an illustrator within 48 hours of signing up.

  • What is the no-risk trial period for Toptal illustrators?

    We make sure that each engagement between you and your illustrator begins with a trial period of up to two weeks. This means that you have time to confirm the engagement will be successful. If you’re completely satisfied with the results, we’ll bill you for the time and continue the engagement for as long as you’d like. If you’re not completely satisfied, you won’t be billed. From there, we can either part ways, or we can provide you with another expert who may be a better fit and with whom we will begin a second, no-risk trial.

Jorge Gonzalez Miksi
Verified Expert 
in Design

Jorge is a senior designer and art director with expertise in illustration and animation. He has worked for several brand design agencies and created social content for numerous companies, including the gaming technology company NZXT. He holds an MFA in animation from the University of Edinburgh.


Years of Experience


How to Hire Illustrators

The Demand for Illustrators Continues to Expand

Demand for creative professionals is strong. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are approximately 94,500 art and design job openings each year. The Bureau anticipates 20,500 new art and design jobs between 2021 and 2031, making it clear that companies recognize design’s ability to influence customers. Moreover, illustrations are widely used to improve the user experience of websites and mobile apps. It can be challenging for users to interpret detailed photographs at small sizes, and illustrations effectively communicate ideas in such contexts.

An illustration icon over a global map, with blue designer icons in various locations and a magnifying glass over a green designer icon.

Finding and hiring a skilled illustrator can be challenging, despite a vast talent pool.

This difficulty stems from many illustrators being freelancers, limiting their online visibility to a portfolio site and a handful of social media platforms. Additionally, illustrators represent diverse capabilities, each with their own styles and specializations, such as lettering, 3D modeling, or mixed media—meaning not every illustrator will suit your project’s needs.

In this guide, we clarify what a professional illustrator does, how to better define your project goals, and how to assess the fit of the illustrators you interview. We also cover what you need to know to hire the right illustrator for your project.

What attributes distinguish quality Illustrators from others?

It’s important to be able to identify talented illustrators from less-skilled ones in order to ensure that your project’s artistic vision is realized and its message is conveyed clearly to your intended audience. Depending on your project, you may need an illustrator with some or all of the following skills:

Composition and Design
Composition and design skills involve positioning graphics, achieving balance, establishing scale relationships, emphasizing essential design elements, and applying colors. Quality illustrators are highly intentional about arranging their compositions; every detail contributes to a work’s overall mood and message.

Sketching and Drawing
Sketching and drawing are complementary skills, each with a broad spectrum of styles ranging from primitive to hyper-realistic. Sketching is an effective way for illustrators to explore their initial ideas and share them with stakeholders quickly. Drawing skills come into play when a concept is chosen and the composition requires more precision. An experienced illustrator usually has a distinct drawing style that makes their work stand out from their peers.

While it’s not uncommon for illustrators to draw without visual references, many of the best illustrators take photographs to inform their work. For instance, rendering lighting, perspective, and even the human form without photo references can be challenging. Some illustrators also use photos to create illustrative collages, while others draw directly on top of photographs.

Illustrators don’t just produce photocopies of the natural world; they create images that convey meaning. For example, think of an editorial cartoon that has no words but still makes a scathingly sarcastic statement. A skilled illustrator knows how to juxtapose characters, objects, and settings in clever ways that tell a story.

Quality illustrators should be expert in using digital design software such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Procreate, CorelDRAW, and Affinity Designer.

Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based design tool that allows illustrators to create graphics that can be adjusted and scaled without pixelation. Illustrator is a popular tool for illustrators specializing in lettering, infographics, and website illustrations.

Adobe Photoshop is a raster-based program, so it’s best for graphics that don’t require significant scaling. It also allows illustrators to replicate the look of traditional media such as charcoal, ink, and watercolor.

The files illustrators create in these programs should be well organized so that other creatives, such as web designers and graphic designers, can easily manipulate and export assets as needed.

An image of a pencil illustrating a lightbulb in a mobile app conveys illustration’s ability to illuminate important messages in digital products.

How can you identify the ideal Illustrator for you?

As you embark on your vetting process, you’ll need to decide whether you’d like to work with a seasoned illustrator or someone newer to the field. Both options have advantages and drawbacks. An experienced illustrator is more likely to have strong project management skills and a distinct style—which will help differentiate your content from your competitors. But veteran illustrators also tend to charge higher fees. Junior illustrators are often eager to explore new illustration techniques, and they bring a fresh perspective to the illustrations process—which can lead to innovative visuals. But they might struggle to incorporate stakeholder input or communicate their ideas, and their work may lack a definite style or be heavily influenced by fleeting trends.

In addition to evaluating experience, styles, and techniques, you should look for key soft skills when hiring an illustrator. The best illustrators exhibit adaptability, teamwork, consistency, and introspection. They can synthesize a project’s requirements and produce compelling visuals that meet their client’s needs. They hit deadlines, implement feedback, and guide the project toward a favorable outcome—even when that means pushing back against stakeholder requests that don’t align with the project’s stated purpose.

How to Write an Illustrator Job Description for Your Project

When writing an illustrator job description, it’s important to communicate exactly what you’re looking for in potential illustrators. And while every role will have different needs, top illustrators possess the following traits:

Command of illustration techniques
Whether you’re seeking an illustrator with a broad skill set or one who specializes in a specific medium, the illustrator you hire should demonstrate a strong understanding of their preferred illustration techniques. The best way to assess this is by examining an illustrator’s portfolio. Look for someone whose work showcases not only quality, but also a consistent level of skill and style.

Sense of creativity and inventiveness
In addition to solid illustration skills, you should look for an illustrator who can conceptualize images that delight, surprise, or challenge viewers’ assumptions about a topic. Illustrators should be able to present artifacts such as concept sketches, mood boards, and color studies that show how they explored multiple concepts before arriving at a final image.

Devotion to details
Skilled illustrators can articulate how their artistic choices communicate meaning. For instance, a subtle variation in shade or scale can be the difference between a compelling illustration and a generic stock image.

What are the most important Illustrator interview questions?

The following illustrator interview questions can help you hold productive discussions and make well-informed decisions:

How would you describe your creative process?
Knowing how an illustrator works clarifies their abilities and fit for your organization. Not all illustrators follow a regimented process like UI and UX designers, but their approach should include periods where they conduct research, generate concepts, create comprehensive layouts, and incorporate stakeholder feedback. Look for talent with exceptional communication skills, as you’ll be relying on their ability to convey ideas and information throughout the project.

What illustration software or tools do you use?
This question can help you gain valuable insight into a candidate’s technical skills. For instance, you might find that a talent is most comfortable working in traditional media, such as colored pencils or acrylics, for print illustrations—which could be good or bad, depending on your illustration job.

Have you worked on similar projects?
This information can help you evaluate the candidate’s ability to handle your illustration project and anticipate potential obstacles. For example, if you need a library of brand-specific illustrations, you should look for a candidate with experience creating large quantities of illustrations that exhibit a cohesive theme and style.

Can you walk me through a recent project in your portfolio?
Reviewing a project provides an opportunity to assess artistic, presentation, and communication skills. The illustrator should be able to explain the project’s purpose, their role and illustrations process, and the project’s outcome.

Why do companies hire Illustrators?

Illustration is an effective way to help people understand complicated products and services, which is why leading SaaS companies like Slack, Dropbox, and Gusto use illustrations to clarify their product features. For instance, Gusto, a human resources platform, promotes its full-service payroll suite with an illustration of its user interface adorned with whimsical characters and graphics. This technique signals a user experience that’s effective and enjoyable.

Illustration can also inspire optimism and help people envision seemingly mundane scenarios in a positive light. For example, the note-taking app Notion makes workplace collaboration seem fun with its illustrations of cheerful people working together on creative, even adventurous, tasks.

Ultimately, illustration conveys ideas with an immediacy and clarity that words can’t. It’s capable of evoking emotions like empathy, outrage, and joy, and it’s a valuable way to draw comparisons, accentuate irony, and simplify complex concepts and processes. These qualities make illustration a potent marketing tool that engages consumers across various print and digital touchpoints.

Top Illustrators are in High Demand.

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