The term “starving artist” may apply to some painters, sculptors, illustrators, and other fine-arts professionals. However, many creative people have found highly successful careers in a wide range of fields.
About half of those who make their living in the fine arts are self-employed. A large portion of them produce works of art for sale. Their customers may be individuals who buy single pieces, or store owners who purchase artwork in bulk for resale. Artists exhibit their creations in museums, display them in galleries, and sell them on the web.
Other fine artists work for private companies or government entities. Some of these positions require fine-arts degrees. Government officials have projected that the job-growth rate for fine artists will be just 3 percent from 2012 to 2022, far less than the average for all occupations.
When most people hear the term “artist,” they picture painters and sculptors. These are the most traditional of art jobs, with histories dating to many centuries ago. This category features those who actually produce the art; the talented people who conceive and create works that have aesthetic value. Other examples include printmakers, illustrators, cartoonists, and video artists.
The Art Business
Many fine artists, or visual artists, find work in the art business. Some are art appraisers, brokers, or dealers. They assess, buy, and sell pieces of work. Auction houses, art galleries, and art museums hire artistic people to perform a variety of duties.
Corporate Art Careers
Large businesses need art directors to design visual concepts for promotions and advertising. These professionals are responsible for how printed materials, videos, ads, and web pages are presented to the public. It has been estimated that nearly half of fine artists have this type of job, which is near the top of the pay scale for all kinds of artists.
Art directors supervise multimedia artists, animators, and artists skilled in the use of technical equipment. The staff of a large company’s advertising department may include copywriters, creative directors, illustrators, and photographers.
Illustration and Drawing
Without artwork, magazines and books would not be as visually appealing to readers. Publishers need fine artists to create illustrations, drawings, and designs for printed materials like calendars, greeting cards, stationery, wallpaper, and gift-wrapping paper. The designs of T-shirts and other clothing also display the talents of fine artists.
Sketch artists, those skilled at re-creating a person’s likeness, are employed by police departments and news media. Medical illustrators are specially trained to render anatomically accurate drawings that portray how surgical procedures are to be conducted. They do this by hand, and use computer technology to create animations and three-dimensional images. Scientific illustrators depict plants and animals, molecular structures, and geologic and planetary formations. Their work appears in professional publications and is used to educate students.
A degree in fine arts, along with a teaching certificate, can qualify an artist for a rewarding career in education. High schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions employ art teachers. Other jobs involving education include art museum curator, archivist, art critic, art consultant, lecturer, art historian, and art therapist.
In your search for a job in the fine arts, do not be discouraged by those who insist there is no money to be made in the field. There are hundreds of occupations for visual artists, offering employment in myriad specialties. If you research the options, and honestly assess your own skills, you just might find a career that matches your passion with your need to earn a living.