Questioning Creatives


This article was written on 30 Apr 2013, and is filled under illustrators.

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Nikolas Ilic

My name is Nikolas Ilic and I am 25 years old currently living in Burbank, California. I’m originally from Toronto Canada, where I studied my Bachelors in Animation at Sheridan College. Since school I have been out in the industry for about 2 years now. It has been quite a journey but loved ever part of it thus far.


When did you decide you wanted to be illustrator?
As a kid me and my older brother would always draw from comics and things that inspired us. Comics, cartoons, movies etc. So choosing this career was pretty much a no brainier. I looked up to my brother a lot as his talents were much stronger at art. I think being in my situation it helped push me and also he taught me some things along the way. Later on he decided to veer away from the art career path as I decided to stick with it. Not for the money just because it was something I truly loved. After high school I took a year of to really decide what I wanted to do as I did want to rush that. I feel like having the luxury of time sometimes lays your path out for you. I then applied to Sheridan College for Art Fundamentals to improve my portfolio before I applied to Animation a year later.

Would you recommend studying at art school?
Yes I would recommend studying in school. There are many great instructors you can learn from but even better is learning from fellow colleagues and artists. I don’t think I would be the artist I am today if I did not go to art school.


How long was it before illustration became your primary form of income?
Ever since I finished my schooling at Sheridan College. I remember we had to do a 3 month internship between our third and graduating year. During that period I really realized that this is the career I choose and that this was the job I will be doing to make a living and to pay bills. I guess you could say it was a wake up call and to become more of a professional.

Could you describe your typical day?
Well I depends. When I was fulltime freelance it was definitely a lot different then a fulltime studio job. I would say they each have their own benefits. While freelancing it was nice having the luxury of time. I could make my own hours which would work best for me. I could work from home! Which I very much enjoyed. The downside to freelance is there can be some gaps between gigs where you get stressed about income and what not. Being in a studio environment you learn from your fellow co-workers and have a more structured routine with a constant pay check which is nice as well in its own way.

What do you wish you’d know when you first started out?
When I first started out I wish I knew more about exposure and how important it is. I didn’t really get into that until after school. I would have been nice to slowly do it during school. Exposure is definitely a key thing you have to consider when starting your own business or if you want to go freelance. Getting into galleries, the latest social media will definitely help you get out there which in return gives you more clients which then leads to income.

What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
I would say the best thing about being a illustrator is that once the image is approved it’s done. Usually with one or two revisions you are there which are usually minor and then you go on to the next piece. Since I came from a more animation background that’s not always the case. Especially for animation when there is so much detail that needs to be looked at and often has you going over the drawings over and over.

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What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator? 
So far so good! I cant really complain about anything thus far in my career.

If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
If I wasn’t a illustrator I would probably try and be storyboard artist. I have a huge respect for how much work they do and their ideas. They make it look easy. But I’m sure its really not. I guess its like most trades, with time the more you do it the better you get at it.

Any other tips you could share?
Being a illustrator is something you have to love to do. You shouldn’t be getting into this industry looking for fame or to be wealthy. I would say if its something you truly do love doing it will show and those are likely to come with it. Not the other way around. Lastly, keep being inspired and motivated with people and things around you!


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