Finding the right illustrator - can an artist work in a style other than their own?

When you are looking to hire an illustrator, it is important to find the right illustrator with the right style for the job. One question I often get in my discussions with new clients are "can you match this particular style?"

The short answer is, it depends. An illustrator who is willing to work outside of their usual style can generally work in any color palette you like. An artist who usually draws people, can easily draw pets. It won't be their specialty, but you will most likely get the finished result that you are looking for.

Working outside of one's usual illustration style becomes an issue when an artist tries to work in a style that is very different than their own, especially when the style they are attempting to work in requires a lot of skills, knowledge and practice.

So, you probably would not want to hire a digital artist to do an oil painting unless this artist also has significant oil painting experience.

You would not want to hire a cartoonist to create a 3d architectural piece.

You may however, hire an artist who usually works on florals to do a drawing of food.

You may hire an artist who usually works in a bright color palette to work in your company's brand colors, or in neutral shades.

Most of the time when a client is asking this question, it is because they found an artist with an excellent rate or they want to hire someone they know who doesn't do quite what they are looking for.

My advice in this situation is speak to the artist about whether they've done work in the style you are looking for, how comfortable they are with the style change, and consider whether it is worth paying extra to hire the person you are really looking for.

If you cannot spend more to hire the correct illustrator for the job, you may want to look into pre-made stock illustrations, as they can be a budget friendly option. Stock illustrations, similar to stock photos, may be used by multiple companies and are not custom work, but their price is significantly lower than a custom piece.

Most honest and reputable illustrators will not work in a style that is too far out of their reach. In this case, they oftentimes will be able to recommend someone else for the job who will be a better fit. It is worth reaching out and asking, most of us are happy to pass along work that is not a good fit for us to another artist who would do really well with it.

Overall, it should be the goal of both the client and the illustrator to create pieces that the client is happy with. If this cannot be achieved because the illustrator is working too far out of their comfort zone, it is bad for both parties involved.

Illustrators value highly word of mouth referrals and repeat clients, and they are looking to create work they are proud of that can be used in their portfolio. If the work is not a good fit, everyone suffers.

For more information on how to hire an illustrator, and what that process looks like, see this YouTube video on the subject.