Dr. Seuss had his colorful characters. Shel Silverstein had his emblematic style. Even J.R.R. Tolkien had his immersive, world-building maps. While the illustrations in books may not be the main focus, sometimes they’re the thing that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

The best book illustrators can add that much-needed “something extra” to take a book from good to great, or great to legendary. Here, we list our top book illustrators for hire now, to take your book beyond where the text alone can go.

The 10 best freelance book illustrators to hire in 2020

  1. 1
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 141 )
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Infographic
    • Other Graphic Design
    • Other business or advertising
    • Brochure
    • Other design
    • Other art or illustration
    • Poster
    • Other web or app design
    • Logo design
    • Character or mascot
    • Icon or button
    • Button or icon
    • Banner ad
    • Typesetting with imagery
    • T-shirt
    • Signage
    • PowerPoint template
    • App design
    • Magazine cover
    • Card or invitation
  2. 2
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 94 )
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Logo design
    • T-shirt
    • Poster
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Clothing or apparel
    • Logo & business card
    • Sticker
    • Signage
    • Other packaging or label
    • Other design
    • Other business or advertising
    • Other art or illustration
    • Character or mascot
  3. 3
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 56 )
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Other art or illustration
    • Book cover
    • Other design
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Logo design
    • Other book or magazine
    • Magazine cover
    • Character or mascot
    • Typesetting with imagery
    • Poster
    • Merchandise
    • Logo & hosted website
    • Clothing or apparel
  4. 4
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 21 )
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Other Graphic Design
    • Logo design
    • Other design
    • T-shirt
    • Character or mascot
    • Card or invitation
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Book cover
    • Sticker
    • Product label
    • Poster
    • Other art or illustration
    • Logo & business card
    • Tattoo
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Print or packaging design
    • Icon or button
    • Button or icon
    • Business card
  5. 5
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 125 )
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Other art or illustration
    • Character or mascot
    • Logo design
    • Infographic
    • Web page design
    • Card or invitation
    • Other design
    • Logo & business card
    • Sticker
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Other web or app design
    • Icon or button
    • Other business or advertising
    • Banner ad
    • Tattoo
    • T-shirt
    • Product packaging
    • Product label
    • Other packaging or label
  6. 6
    Top Level
    4.9
    ( 99 )
    • Logo design
    • Other design
    • Logo & business card
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Logo & hosted website
    • Product packaging
    • Character or mascot
    • Card or invitation
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • T-shirt
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Other business or advertising
    • Other art or illustration
    • Merchandise
    • Icon or button
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Book cover
    • Sticker
    • Other web or app design
    • Product label
    • Other Graphic Design
    • Business card
    • Brand guide
    • Web page design
    • Other packaging or label
    • Clothing or apparel
    • Banner ad
  7. 7
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 39 )
    • Illustration or graphics
    • 3D
    • Other art or illustration
    • Poster
    • Other design
    • Product packaging
    • WordPress theme design
    • Signage
    • Merchandise
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Other business or advertising
    • Logo design
    • Logo & business card
    • Facebook cover
    • Character or mascot
    • Business card
    • Book cover
    • T-shirt
    • Postcard, flyer or print
  8. 8
    • Illustration or graphics
    • T-shirt
    • Logo design
    • Clothing or apparel
    • Other art or illustration
    • Character or mascot
    • Other design
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • App design
    • Icon or button
    • Business card
    • PowerPoint template
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Other business or advertising
    • Infographic
    • Tattoo
    • Sticker
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Signage
    • Product packaging
    • Poster
    • Other web or app design
    • Other packaging or label
    • Merchandise
    • Logo & hosted website
    • Facebook cover
    • Card or invitation
    • Book cover
    • Banner ad
    • Web page design
    • Typesetting
  9. 9
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 106 )
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Character or mascot
    • Book cover
    • Logo design
    • T-shirt
    • Other art or illustration
    • Icon or button
    • Tattoo
    • Other Graphic Design
    • Other design
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Other business or advertising
    • Cup or mug
    • Web page design
    • Social media page
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Signage
    • Other web or app design
    • Card or invitation
    • Banner ad
  10. 10
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 127 )
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Character or mascot
    • Product label
    • Other art or illustration
    • T-shirt
    • Product packaging
    • Logo design
    • Tattoo
    • Poster
    • Other book or magazine
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Other design
    • Other business or advertising
    • Merchandise
    • Clothing or apparel
    • Other packaging or label
    • Card or invitation
    • Business card
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Banner ad
    • Sticker
    • Logo & business card
    • Landing page design
    • Infographic
    • Icon or button
    • Brochure
    • Book cover

How did we choose these as the top book illustrators?

More than just garnish, book illustrations help create the mood and draw the reader into the stories they depict. Often, they influence the way the reader imagines the characters and the world. To properly enhance the reading experience of your book, you can’t just hire any book illustrator, you have to go with the best. That’s why we set high criteria for our list above.

1. Design quality

magical swan book illustrations
Children’s book illustrations by *Alexandra*

At 99designs, we have a regular procedure for categorizing designers based on how well their works displays conceptual thought, technical execution and knowledge of design principles. For every artist, an expert from our team reviews their portfolio to determine which of our three levels they fit into:

  • Top Level
  • Mid Level
  • Entry Level

We then display these levels on all our designers’ portfolios so you can see exactly what kind of designer you’re working with, from design master to master-in-training.

2. Book illustration experience

Book illustrations should mirror the content of the book itself. That’s not something every designer can accomplish—it requires both an openness to the author’s style and a working knowledge publishing. For our list above, we didn’t just consider design skill, we also factored in the designer’s history in book illustrations, such as how often they do them and how well their work is received with these clients.

3. Professionalism

A high level of design skill is no excuse for amateur behavior. In our evaluation of designers, we also consider their professionalism by checking their previous clients’ feedback. You can be sure the designers in our list above act professional by communicating throughout the process, delivering on time, and acting courteously with their clients.

Are you ready to hire a fantastic freelance book illustrator?

Regardless of how good your words are, the right book illustrations can always make them better. Take a look at our list of the top book illustrators for hire and choose the one that’s best for you.

Want more book illustration choices?
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