For artists, a fine arts degree seems like the perfect starting point for getting an art job. College experience is important in today's world for many career paths. But only a few jobs out there will require a degree specifically in the fine arts. Most jobs for artists just require a four-year degree in any field. Art majors who are looking for jobs should keep their options and their eyes as open as they possibly can. It's not at all uncommon for people to change their career paths as they grow and travel in life. Finding the perfect job fit is far more about your interests and passions than about what you studied in school.
The Importance of a Degree
Many people falsely assume the value of a degree comes from being able to land a sweet job at the end of their studies. But many highly-educated people are unemployed or under-employed. A college degree does increase your chances of landing a job. And it all but guarantees you a better salary when you get the job. But what it does not do is force you into one career path.
It's not uncommon to hear disparaging remarks made about fine arts and liberal arts degrees. Many people incorrectly assume that what you go to school to study must be directly related to the job you desire to get when you leave school. And that job, in their minds, should pay handsomely since you studied for years to get it. But this relationship is far from linear.
This view of degrees and their importance stems from professional degrees. Lawyers and doctors spend years going to specialized schools, and once they are successful in their careers, they earn good salaries. But this is not how a majority of jobs work.
What you study in college is a significant choice. But remember that, for most people, this choice does not define their future. Many people wind up working in completely different fields than what they studied in school. Many people begin working in one area, and a better opportunity comes along later. And many people voluntarily change their careers multiple times throughout their working lives.
So, what is the real value of a degree? A degree makes you more employable in any career field. A good degree broadens your horizons. It helps you see outside of the box and gives you choices in your life that you wouldn't get any other way. It provides you with a foundation of communication and interpersonal skills. These are things highly valued by every employer.
If you are a prospective art student with a dream of making it big in the field of arts, it is important that you apply to the right school that will hone your skills and talent. You might want to check out our list of 35 Top Art Schools that provide the necessary platform for young artists to start their careers in art. They get exposure to popular artists of the world and learn practical as well as technical aspects of their chosen vertical of art. We had also put together a list of Top Grants and Art Scholarships available for art students around the world.
Landing the Job
Truthfully, what you went to school for is one of the least interesting components on your resume. Recruiters and hiring managers are trying to get to know the person behind the paper. They want to find the best fit for the job. In the workplace, the focus is really on who can be most easily trained for a job, and who will fit in best in the office. People skills and communication skills are the most important things they are looking for.
To find people with these skills, they use a few tricks. One of them is relying heavily on previous work experience. They look at where you worked, at what type of job, and how long you lasted there. Was that company able to work with you? Why or why not? You might think that references play an essential part in this, but recommendations are of little help beyond merely verifying that you did work where you said you did.
In the fine arts world, your portfolio of work speaks for itself. The great thing about having a good portfolio is that you can start building it today. It doesn't matter if you are just starting college or just coming out of college; your portfolio contains the best work that you want to show off. It can include school projects and personal masterpieces. But whatever is in your collection should showcase the best you have to offer and give employers an idea of what you are capable of.
With our handy guide on how to make a photography portfolio, you can start today. Make sure that the portfolio website builder you choose offers the flexibility, features, and ease-of-use you need to put together a professional portfolio website without requiring any coding knowledge.
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Creative professionals write artist statements as part of their online portfolio. Here are a few valuable tips that will help you to write a clear, concise, and compelling artist statement. Remember, an artist statement complements your bio or resume. It is an opportunity to help the reader envision your work before actually seeing it, and present a picture of who you are as an artist.
For students just leaving college and entering the workplace, portfolios help show their talents and make up for the lack of work experience. Hopefully, through the process of getting your degree, you had the opportunity to work internships and apprenticeships that fill that gap nicely. Want to know about what are the things that can make your Art Portfolio stand out? Here are 30 Inspiring Art Portfolio websites to inspire you to create a well-presented portfolio.
Jobs for Fine Arts Majors
This might seem like a no-brainer, but many people get fine arts degrees because they love the fine arts. And whatever they specialize in, they love doing it and are very talented at it. So it should follow that painters get fine arts degrees because they love to paint, just like photographers get them because they love photography.
Every artist has the dream of working for themselves. Freelancing is a tough business because you have to market yourself and run your business. And these things are not the fine arts that you love.
Freelancing is also a slow road. It can take years or even decades to carve out the market niche that you want to serve. And often, this will wind up being what the market wants to buy, not necessarily what you want to create. Being a freelancer gives you the power to choose what jobs you want to take and when, but you still have to keep an eye out for someone to sell it to.
One nice thing about freelancing is that you can generally do it alongside whatever career job you are working. If you're a freelance photographer, you might work as an assistant in the studio part-time while building your photography brand and business the rest of the time. This is a good tactic for beginners since it provides some income to pay the bills but still allows you to build up your portfolio over time.
Taking commissions for commercial projects is a great way to broaden your horizons. Commerical artists make illustrations, designs, photography, or any other type of artwork for companies. They can then use the art as they need for their marketing or products.
Commercial artists might be hired and employed by the company in question, or they might be freelancers that are approached for a specific project. The distinction between a commercial artist and a fine artist is that commercial arts are made to be sold. The artist has a particular buyer in mind. Fine arts are made for art's sake; for their beauty and their aesthetic value.
Artists who want to continue creating work but who don't want to be responsible for the day-to-day business affairs of being a freelancer often work for agencies. These agencies hire and interview you, and then make your work and your labor available to commercial clients. For the artist, this means that potential earnings are less since the agency will keep a cut, but it also means more time for the art and less time for the marketing and bookkeeping.
For every agency that hires artists, there are many jobs for artists available in areas of management and administration.
Art Jobs Not in Art Creation
Not all jobs involve the physical creation of art. Galleries need managers and salespeople, museums need curators and exhibit directors, and artists need agents. The industry of art itself provides many job opportunities if you know where to look. Sure, administration and management aren't sexy jobs. But it gets things done, and it helps other artists like yourself. Art director jobs can be found in pretty much any major city.
Having a fine arts degree gives you a leg up on the competition for these jobs. It shows mastery in the subject area and an understanding of the industry and the people who work in it. Don't write off these jobs as only appropriate for business majors. These art director jobs are best done by industry insiders who have a passion for the work.
Art Teacher Jobs
Another type of job for artists worth exploring is teaching. Teaching certainly isn't for everyone. But, if you have a passion for your art and like teaching others new skills, considering looking up art teacher jobs in your area.
Art teachers are needed for all levels of education, from elementary school through college. Elementary, middle, and high school teaching jobs will require local teaching certifications and some training in basic educational theory. They usually require a specialized degree, making fine arts program graduates the perfect candidates.
Art teaching jobs in higher education will require advanced degrees. A master's degree is usually necessary for assistant or associate professors, while full professors or department chairs will need a doctorate.
Other Jobs That Might Interest You
In addition to jobs that are directly related to your degree in fine arts, your degree can set you up for other careers that you might not have thought about. Depending on your work experience and your interests, you might be perfectly suited to become a concept artist, talent agent, estates manager, special effects technician, stylist, or multimedia programmer.
If you have a four-year degree or higher, you often have the option to add specialized coursework. Sometimes this is called a minor, and other times you simply take a few elective classes that interest you. With extra coursework in psychology, for example, being an art therapist becomes an option. These elective type courses are an essential part of most higher-education degree programs. They introduce students to other industries and inspire. Think back to those college days. Was there a subject you would've liked to know more about, or that you enjoyed learning about?
Top Career Fields
In academia, fine arts are defined as architecture, painting, sculpture, performance, music, film, and literature. No, this isn't an all-inclusive list, but it's a starting point to begin thinking about careers in the field.
But this rigid way of thinking is likely counter-productive. In truth, the jobs available to art majors are only limited to the desires of the individual. No rule states that art majors must work in art, and likewise, no rule that fine arts jobs are reserved for those with a degree in it.
Illustrators are needed in many industries and may work for companies or as freelancers. They often work across mediums depending on the project at hand, but often they use digital illustration. When you think of all of the figures and drawings that you have recently seen, the number is likely staggering. In books, on product packaging or instruction manuals, in advertising, and for technical trade publications in every industry. Fashion and medical illustrations are particular areas that require a different set of skills from children's book or comic book illustrators. Have a look at these stunning Illustrator Portfolios build on Pixpa for some inspiration. For those interested in film and TV, storyboard artists are needed for pretty much every production. Concept artists are excellent at communication and translating other people's creative visions onto paper.
Photography is everywhere, and photographers work in many industries and businesses. Portrait and wedding photographers work closely with their clients to capture special moments in their lives. Travel, nature, and wildlife photographers usually work alone as freelancers. These paths often go hand-in-hand with writing. Businesses generally commission commercial, product, and food photography. Many companies have photographers on staff, notably advertising agencies. A branch of photography includes videography and film, which is more in-demand than ever, thanks to increasing demand for online videos and content.
Other examples of fine art artists include sculptors and painters. Besides the artists themselves, galleries around the world employ staff and administration. Artists assistants are needed for many studios. Talented animators are always in demand for film and video projects.
Design is a broader category of the fine arts that includes graphic design, fashion and interior design, and even architecture. There is a growing need for talented graphic designers every year. Graphic design now includes specialized career tracks like working with video games, apps, and user experience and user interface (UX/UI) design. Read more about Graphic design as a career option here.
Performance arts include musicians and actors. But both of these artists require extensive crews to put on their performances. Jobs for artists include set design, performance organization, equipment technicians, audio engineers, and film and camera crews. Most actors and musicians are represented by talent agents to help them market their skills. Makeup artists and special effects artists make the action come to life. The list goes on.
The final type of career in art is for writers. Everyone thinks of the literary writer toiling away on their next best-seller, but writing is an in-demand job. Freelance copywriters write for websites, magazines, book publishers, and advertising agencies. Writers can specialize in ad copy, creative storytelling, content, or technical writing in nearly any industry.
Finding an art job that is right for you, and that your degree has prepared you for, isn't as cut and dry as you might think. Many artists work second jobs while practicing their art on a freelance basis. There are many jobs out there for talented artists. The only trick is to keep your mind open to new possibilities and network with others in the industry at every opportunity.