What are the five common mistakes that beginner illustrators make? You can watch this video to find out or read on if you prefer.

I spent over ten years trying to figure out what to do to become successful in illustration. And I had to figure out the hard way what worked and what didn’t work. Good news is that you don’t have to make the same mistakes as I did and become a successful illustrator much faster.

So let’s get started with the mistake number one.

1. The first mistake is not having the right work in your portfolio.

Let me explain. There are different markets within illustration: the main ones…


Have you ever seen an illustrator who describes themselves as “award-winning”? There are so many good opportunities for illustrators to get noticed and stand out through illustration competitions and awards.

Taking part in illustration competitions can open many doors, even if you don’t win. You will be able to create new work and get your art seen by the decision-makers of the industry.

And if you win or get shortlisted you will gain massive exposure to potential clients. I know many cases when even the shortlisted illustrators end up with a publishing deal.

Also, being an “award-winning” illustrator will help…


Where do you start with illustration as an absolute beginner? Should you invest time in learning how to draw first, or should you start by mastering digital software? This was the question that my old friend from school asked me a few days ago.

Edited 08.07.2020

Being an illustrator is an attractive occupation for those who love to draw. It is creative and commercial with a prospect of having your work seen and admired by thousands of people.

However, to get to a stage of being commissioned and making a living from it takes commitment, perseverance and artistic skills. I believe that becoming an illustrator is not difficult, but you have to be smart about what you do.

From my experience, there are three main components to becoming successful at illustration:

  1. Confidence in your style
  2. Market awareness
  3. Self promotion

(and a bit of luck)

Tips for finding your visual style.


A style for an illustrator is like a voice for a singer. Ideally, you want your illustration style to be unique, commercial and recognisable. Nurturing one’s style is an illustrator’s life’s work. For some, finding their own style comes easily while others are forever searching for “the one”.

I am definitely the second type.

There are two approaches to finding style in the art colleges today. One is to instil in students what a “good” (meaning popular, commercial) illustration style is. Then all students’ work is judged according to how close they get to a particular “look”. The big benefit…


I love working with vector graphics.

Vectors are every designer’s dream as they are scalable and versatile. Vectors also make more valuable assets if you are looking to sell your work on Creative Market and image stocks.

My love affair with flat vectors started when I bought an iPadPro. I started working on Adobe Draw app, where I was mainly constructing an image out of flat shapes. However, I also missed drawing with outlines, which I found wasn’t as precise on the iPad as it was on paper.

I wasn’t doing much line art until my boyfriend showed me the…


This blog post is an ode to one A5 handmade sketchbook that got me drawing again after a long break. This book has travelled to many places with me and became a safe space of exploration.

Following my Masters Degree and a start of my full time teaching job in Cambridge, I found very little time for doing anything creative. I knew I had to find a way to get back into drawing regularly, but I didn’t know where to start.

Every time I tried to start a sketchbook before, I would quit half-way through, and I had a pile of unfinished sketchbooks with empty pages laying around. To make this sketchbook different, I decided to create and hand-bind the book myself. I found a handy Youtube tutorial and learnt how to do Coptic stitch binding…


1 May, 2018/0 Comments/by Anya Kuvarzina

A few weeks back I attended a great free workshop at CodeNode London on mastering your personal brand. The workshop was led by Christina Lemieux, an international Planning Director for Leo Burnett agency and a passionate blogger about … lobsters.
In this post, I want to summarise a few key points that I took away from the workshop, which I found incredibly useful.

Building a personal brand is something that has been on the back of my mind for as long time. Even though I am used to working on branding for clients in…


I would never forget my first drawing lesson. The teacher arranged a selection of natural objects on the table said: “Draw them”. I was really scared, as I never drew anything from life before. I picked the easiest object to draw — a simple tree branch — and luckily, I soon discovered that most students at the table were of the same ability as I was.


The nature of freelance work means that there will surely be moments when you find yourself in between projects, looking to make money with illustration but with no potential gigs. That is the time when all your perseverance skills will be put to the test, as you try to fight off the demons of desperation and low self-esteem while pondering on the possibility of getting a full-time job. Although not having paid employment brings money pressure and stress, with the right frame of mind it can be transformed into an opportunity to find new platforms and creative revenue streams. Having…


Portable and easy to use, iPad Pro helped me draw and deliver illustrations while on the aeroplane, on the beach, in bed and in beautiful cafes around the globe. Creating print-ready illustration on the go is now possible with an initial investment into an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and a few free Adobe apps. Thanks to these new tools being an illustrator don’t mean living an isolated home-bound experience like it used to be.

Anya Kuvarzina

Illustrator, originally from Russia, living in the UK. Represented by the Bright Agency https://treesforanya.com/

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