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 2018

  • 3D
  • Illustration or graphics
  • Other design
  • Other art or illustration
  • Icon or button
  • Card or invitation
  • Product packaging
  • Product label
  • Other business or advertising
  • Logo design
  • Logo & brand identity pack
Top Level
5.0
( 69 )
  • Logo design
  • Illustration or graphics
  • Poster
  • T-shirt
  • Logo & brand identity pack
  • Logo & business card
  • Sticker
  • Signage
  • Other packaging or label
  • Other design
  • Other business or advertising
  • Other art or illustration
  • Character or mascot
Top Level
5.0
( 116 )
  • Illustration or graphics
  • Postcard, flyer or print
  • Email
  • Other business or advertising
  • Product packaging
  • Brochure
  • Logo design
  • Other design
  • Business card
  • Banner ad
  • Product label
  • Menu
  • Poster
  • Other web or app design
  • Other packaging or label
  • Other art or illustration
  • Infographic
  • Typesetting
  • Card or invitation
  • Other book or magazine
  • Signage
  • PowerPoint template
  • Book cover
  • Web page design
  • Typesetting with imagery
  • Other clothing or merchandise
  • Logo & business card
  • Icon or button
  • Sticker
  • Social media page
  • Merchandise
  • Logo & brand identity pack
  • Brand guide
Top Level
5.0
( 43 )
  • Illustration or graphics
  • T-shirt
  • Character or mascot
  • Book cover
  • Logo design
  • Other art or illustration
  • Product packaging
  • Other design
  • Product label
  • Poster
  • Other web or app design
  • Other clothing or merchandise
  • Other book or magazine
  • Clothing or apparel
  • Merchandise
  • Logo & business card
  • Logo & brand identity pack
Top Level
4.9
( 79 )
  • Logo design
  • Other design
  • Logo & business card
  • Illustration or graphics
  • Logo & hosted website
  • Logo & brand identity pack
  • Other clothing or merchandise
  • T-shirt
  • Postcard, flyer or print
  • Other art or illustration
  • Merchandise
  • Icon or button
  • Character or mascot
  • Product packaging
  • Other business or advertising
  • Card or invitation
  • Sticker
  • Logo & social media pack
  • Other web or app design
  • Book cover
  • Other Graphic Design
  • Business card
  • Web page design
  • Other packaging or label
  • Brand guide
  • Banner ad
Top Level
4.9
( 84 )
  • Logo design
  • Illustration or graphics
  • Icon or button
  • Logo & social media pack
  • Web page design
  • Other design
  • Logo & brand identity pack
  • Logo & business card
  • Other web or app design
  • Other art or illustration
  • Card or invitation
  • App design
  • Book cover
  • T-shirt
  • Poster
  • Logo & hosted website
  • Business card
  • Banner ad
Top Level
5.0
( 44 )
  • Illustration or graphics
  • Book cover
  • App design
  • Icon or button
  • Product packaging
  • Other art or illustration
  • Landing page design
  • Character or mascot
  • Logo design
  • Banner ad
  • Other web or app design
  • Logo & brand identity pack
  • 3D
Top Level
5.0
( 82 )
  • Book cover
  • Illustration or graphics
  • Logo design
  • Other Graphic Design
  • T-shirt
  • Print or packaging design
  • Social media page
  • Other art or illustration
  • Icon or button
  • Product label
  • Other book or magazine
Top Level
5.0
( 42 )
  • Illustration or graphics
  • Product label
  • Product packaging
  • Other art or illustration
  • Merchandise
  • Character or mascot
  • Logo design
  • Cup or mug
  • Card or invitation
  • Other book or magazine
  • Other design
  • Book cover
  • 3D
  • Tattoo
  • Sticker
  • Signage
  • Poster
  • Other clothing or merchandise
  • Icon or button
  • Clothing or apparel
  • Logo & brand identity pack
Top Level
5.0
( 37 )
  • 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
  • Poster
  • Merchandise
  • Logo & hosted website
  • Clothing or apparel

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?
We have a much larger community of freelance illustrators on our platform