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 2019

  1. 1
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 99 )
    • 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
    • Other business or advertising
    • Icon or button
    • Banner ad
    • Tattoo
    • T-shirt
    • Product packaging
    • Product label
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Other web or app design
  2. 2
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 91 )
    • Book cover
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Logo design
    • T-shirt
    • Poster
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Signage
    • Other art or illustration
    • Magazine cover
    • Other design
    • Other book or magazine
    • Merchandise
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Banner ad
    • Stationery
    • Other web or app design
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Other business or advertising
    • Logo & business card
    • Card or invitation
    • Car, truck or van wrap
    • Brochure
    • Icon or button
  3. 3
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 89 )
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Logo design
    • T-shirt
    • Poster
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Logo & business card
    • Clothing or apparel
    • Sticker
    • Signage
    • Other packaging or label
    • Other design
    • Other business or advertising
    • Other art or illustration
    • Character or mascot
  4. 4
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 46 )
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Book cover
    • App design
    • Icon or button
    • Product packaging
    • Other art or illustration
    • Landing page design
    • Logo design
    • Character or mascot
    • Banner ad
    • Other web or app design
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • 3D
  5. 5
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 159 )
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Other business or advertising
    • Product packaging
    • Email
    • Brochure
    • Logo design
    • Banner ad
    • Other design
    • Infographic
    • Product label
    • Business card
    • Other packaging or label
    • Other art or illustration
    • Menu
    • Typesetting
    • Signage
    • Poster
    • Other web or app design
    • Other book or magazine
    • Card or invitation
    • Typesetting with imagery
    • PowerPoint template
    • Book cover
    • Web page design
    • Sticker
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Logo & business card
    • Icon or button
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • T-shirt
    • Stationery
    • Social media page
    • Merchandise
    • Brand guide
  6. 6
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 18 )
    • 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
  7. 7
    Top Level
    4.9
    ( 110 )
    • Logo design
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Icon or button
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Web page design
    • Other art or illustration
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Other design
    • App design
    • Other web or app design
    • Logo & business card
    • Poster
    • Card or invitation
    • Book cover
    • T-shirt
    • Product label
    • Logo & hosted website
    • Business card
    • Banner ad
    • Landing page design
  8. 8
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 140 )
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Book cover
    • Tattoo
    • Other art or illustration
    • Logo design
    • Poster
    • Other design
    • Character or mascot
    • Clothing or apparel
    • T-shirt
    • Product packaging
    • Product label
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Banner ad
    • Other book or magazine
    • Icon or button
    • Social media page
    • Other web or app design
    • Other packaging or label
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • App design
    • Landing page design
    • Infographic
    • Facebook cover
    • Cup or mug
    • Card or invitation
    • 3D
    • Web page design
  9. 9
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 54 )
    • 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
  10. 10
    Top Level
    5.0
    ( 119 )
    • Book cover
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Poster
    • Character or mascot
    • Banner ad
    • Other design
    • Icon or button
    • Product packaging
    • Other book or magazine
    • Other art or illustration
    • Social media page
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Logo design
    • Facebook cover
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • T-shirt
    • Sticker
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Merchandise
    • Infographic
    • Card or invitation
    • Other web or app design
    • Product label
    • Other packaging or label

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