Nearly everyone is familiar with the starving artist stereotype. Many people think that you can either be creatively fulfilled in your career or actually make a living. Turns out, that couldn’t be further from the truth — if you have the talent and ambition, it’s absolutely possible to have a career that is both creatively and financially fulfilling. There are a myriad of career options in different types of media and genres, and if you like making art or working with people who do, you might be successful in a creative career.
In this article, we’ll discuss finding a job in a creative field, including:
What is an artistic career?
Common skills for artistic jobs
How to establish a career in art
Examples of artistic careers
What is an artistic career?
An art career is more than just painting or sculpting. It's a job, in one (or more) specific mediums, that entails either producing a work of art or being creative in general. This can include people who actually create specific works of art (such as the aforementioned painting or sculpting), but it also includes positions that work directly with produced art or assessing its value. An artistic career can be in a wide range of fields such as advertising, fashion, architecture, or interior design, but it can also involve working in animation, video game production, and crafts.
Common skills needed for an artistic career
When contemplating a career in the arts, it’s important to understand what skills are involved. This will depend on the specific field you choose to pursue, but an artistic career will generally require:
Current design software knowledge
Competency with the tools needed for your niche
While creativity can be something you're born with, it's also a skill that can be learned, polished, and perfected. Like anything else, the more you work at it, the better you get.
How can I turn my creativity into a career?
While everyone’s career path in the artistic arena is different, there are a few things you can do to stack the odds in your favor.
Get a college degree
Getting a college degree in an artistic field may not be required because many successful professionals got their start without a degree. However, a degree can make you a more attractive job candidate. Look into specific majors that complement the field you’re looking to work in, such as animation, fine arts, or graphic design. Not only will you increase your knowledge and skills, it will show an employer that you take your art seriously.
Put together a portfolio
You can’t just tell an interviewer, “I’m an artist. Trust me.” Employers want to actually see what you can do. Creating a portfolio of your best work establishes your skills and demonstrates what sets you apart from other artists. Pursuing an internship is a great way to develop projects for your portfolio, and it gives you a chance to work with established professionals and receive constructive feedback. Make sure the work in your portfolio is relevant to the career you want to pursue — your oil paintings might be the best since Van Gogh, but if you’re applying to be a digital animator, it won’t do you much good.
Networking is critical to finding a creative job. Connecting with others in your chosen field, from your university alumni association, internships, or professional organizations can help you find jobs and even provide you with a reference. Attending industry events and festivals and connecting on social media can help you grow your professional network.
A creative career might make you happier. According to a study compiled by Sciencedirect.com, creativity and well-being are connected, and people can enhance their well-being by strengthening their creative skills. Further statistics show that artists have higher job satisfaction than non-artists — on a scale of one to ten, people in Europe with creative jobs indicate a level of 7.7 (in contrast to non-artists, who rated at 7.3).
What are some examples of artistic careers?
Creative people often like to “daydream” and imagine what could be and how they can make the world better. They get to “play” with their imaginations, and create work that turns their ideas into reality. The good news is that there are many fields of art in which you can pursue a career, depending on your interests, skills, and talents.
Median salary: $50, 210
A photographer uses a camera to take photos of the world around them. They can have photo shoots where they’ve created concepts, visualizations, or stories for their own or their client’s concepts/ideas. They will often edit the photos to create a specific look. Photographers can freelance and show their work in a gallery, work for news media, shoot portraits, or take photos of wildlife.
2. Web designer
Median salary: $66,139
A web designer utilizes computer programming and graphic design to produce visual aspects of websites. In essence, A web designer creates the layout and design of a website —what it looks like to the outside user. They may meet with clients to get an idea of what the client is looking to project, and then write code to create the visual details and test the websites to make sure everything is displayed accurately. Web designers often collaborate with graphic designers and programmers to produce specific elements such as portals or animations.
3. Special effects artists/animators
Median salary: $78,790
Special effects artists and animators create two- and three-dimensional models, animations, and visual effects for television, movies, and video games. Artists and animators can specialize within these fields, focusing on character creation, or scenery and background design. Video game artists may focus on creating the overall look, experience, and layout for the different levels of a video game. Some special effects artists and animators use computer software and write their own code, or utilize a company’s proprietary software. Others prefer to draw by hand and then transfer the designs to the computer. Alarge percentage of artists are self-employed or work on a freelance basis, but others can be employed by the movie industry, software publishers, computer design companies, or advertising/public relations firms.
4. Fashion designer
Median Salary: $63,113
A fashion designer designs clothing using knowledge of fashion trends, textiles, sewing, and clothing construction. They usually sketch designs for new ideas either digitally or on paper. They may work for a larger clothing company or design house, or design their own fashion lines. Areas of specialization include bridal wear, intimate apparel, accessories, footwear, jewelry, casual/streetwear, or formal attire. Fashion designers oversee the physical production of their designs, working closely with pattern makers and stitchers.
5. Art curator
Median salary: $67,490
A curator organizes art exhibits for museums, private galleries, or other cultural organizations. They determine if certain art pieces fit in a specific exhibit or collection, direct the preservation of important art pieces, and fundraise for exhibitions and showings. Curators can have a specialty, such as painting, multimedia installations, sculpture, or historical clothing.
6. Interior designer
Median salary: $51,070
Not to be confused with an interior decorator, an interior designer coordinates the visual design of indoor spaces of buildings, such as individual rooms, hallways, or entrance halls. They ensure indoor spaces are functional, beautiful, and safe by establishing space necessities and selecting both required and decorative items, such as the color scheme, lights, furniture, and other needed materials. Interior designers will often refer to building blueprints and designs to get a feel for the space they’re going to design so that they can submit approval plans with the architect, construction firm, or design firm.
7. Art teacher
Median salary: $48,445
An art teacher helps students learn how to create art using a variety of media. Depending on the venue, art teachers can teach concepts like color theory and shading, demonstrate how to do particular art techniques and assist students so that they can complete their own art projects. Many art teachers are employed by school districts and teach multiple grade levels but they might also teach in community centers, senior living facilities, museums, or private studios.
8. Commercial/industrial designer
Median salary: $81,740
Commercial and industrial designers combine art, business, and engineering to design the products people use every day, and are responsible for the design, utility, value, and safety of most items that are manufactured. Industrial Designers often specialize in product categories, such as automobiles, appliances, medical equipment, or toys. They are responsible for designing the conceptual sketches, drawings, and computer-aided designs, keeping in mind the needs of clients, consumers, and how the product will be used. They may conduct market research or attend industrial trade shows. Collaborating with engineers, accountants, and cost estimators, commercial designers determine if the product is safe, easy to use, and affordable to manufacture.
If you want to show your creative side in your career, an artistic career can be rewarding because it provides an outlet to express yourself and make a living. You might wonder, is there a demand for artists? Yes. The growth of technology has meant a proliferation of creative jobs, and the demand is only increasing. Employers are looking for people who can transform their creative vision into a unique brand that distinguishes them from their competitors. And in the age of the Internet, everyday people have access to different artists and types of art from around the world.
To find the perfect creative job for you, check out our Job Search tool on Career.io!
If you like making art or working with people who do, you might be successful in a creative career
An artistic job is in one (or more) specific mediums and entails either producing a work of art or being creative in general.
Creativity is both an innate ability, but also a skill that be learned, polished, and perfected