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 2021

  1. 1
    • Book cover
    • Poster
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Other art or illustration
    • Other design
    • Other book or magazine
    • Logo design
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Product packaging
    • Banner ad
    • Signage
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Facebook cover
  2. 2
    • Illustration or graphics
    • T-shirt
    • Logo design
    • Product label
    • Card or invitation
    • Clothing or apparel
    • Other design
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Other book or magazine
    • Other art or illustration
    • Web page design
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Signage
    • Product packaging
    • PowerPoint template
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Merchandise
    • Logo & business card
    • Logo & brand guide
    • Book cover
  3. 3
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Logo design
    • Other Graphic Design
    • Other design
    • Character or mascot
    • T-shirt
    • Poster
    • Other art or illustration
    • Card or invitation
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Book cover
    • Sticker
    • Product packaging
    • Product label
    • Merchandise
    • Logo & business card
    • Tattoo
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Print or packaging design
    • Icon or button
    • Button or icon
    • Business card
    • 3D
  4. 4
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Character or mascot
    • Logo design
    • Logo & social media pack
    • T-shirt
    • Other book or magazine
    • Logo & brand guide
    • Poster
    • Other design
    • Other art or illustration
    • Landing page design
  5. 5
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Clothing or apparel
    • Card or invitation
    • Cup or mug
    • Book cover
    • Product label
    • Merchandise
    • Product packaging
    • Other art or illustration
    • T-shirt
    • Other design
    • Other business or advertising
    • Sticker
    • Stationery
    • Poster
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Other packaging or label
    • Logo & hosted website
    • Logo design
    • Business card
  6. 6
    • Banner ad
    • Poster
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Other business or advertising
    • Social media page
    • Landing page design
    • Brochure
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Facebook cover
    • Book cover
    • Other design
    • Flash banner
    • Logo design
    • Web page design
    • PowerPoint template
    • Character or mascot
    • Business card
    • WordPress theme design
    • T-shirt
    • Other web or app design
    • Other book or magazine
    • Menu
    • Logo & business card
    • Logo & brand guide
    • Infographic
    • Icon or button
  7. 7
    5.0
    ( 113 )
    • Logo design
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Product packaging
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Poster
    • Card or invitation
    • Other business or advertising
    • Banner ad
    • Other art or illustration
    • Other packaging or label
    • Icon or button
    • Book cover
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Infographic
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Product label
    • Other book or magazine
    • Brochure
    • Web page design
    • Signage
    • Landing page design
    • Typesetting with imagery
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Other web or app design
    • Other design
    • Merchandise
    • Menu
    • Facebook cover
    • Email
  8. 8
    • Book cover
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Clothing or apparel
    • Other design
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Other art or illustration
    • Cup or mug
    • Merchandise
    • Card or invitation
    • Product packaging
    • T-shirt
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Character or mascot
    • Logo design
    • Facebook cover
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Typesetting
    • Sticker
    • Product label
    • PowerPoint template
    • Other web or app design
    • Other book or magazine
    • Logo & hosted website
  9. 9
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Logo design
    • T-shirt
    • Poster
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Clothing or apparel
    • Logo & business card
    • Book cover
    • Web page design
    • Sticker
    • Signage
    • Other web or app design
    • Other packaging or label
    • Other design
    • Other business or advertising
    • Other art or illustration
    • Character or mascot
  10. 10
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Character or mascot
    • Banner ad
    • T-shirt
    • Logo design
    • Card or invitation
    • Poster
    • Other design
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Other art or illustration
    • Clothing or apparel
    • Tattoo
    • Merchandise
    • Other web or app design
    • Flash banner
    • Business card
    • Social media page
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Product packaging
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Other business or advertising
    • Other book or magazine
    • Facebook cover
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • WordPress theme design
    • Web page design
    • Signage
    • App design
    • Menu
    • Logo & business card
    • Landing page design
    • Icon or button
    • Email
    • Cup or mug
    • Book cover
    • 3D

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