Types of Art Careers

When many people think of art careers, they think of painting and drawing. Because of the familiar phrase “starving artist,” they think of art as a useless degree. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Career opportunities in the arts field are varied and number more than 200 in all—which is more than in many other industries. If you are creative, have artistic ability, are passionate about the arts field, and are willing to put in a lot of effort to create high-quality work, then you can be successful in art careers.

It’s true that most artists in the fine arts field, which includes painting, drawing, and sculpture, have a difficult time making a living in these types of careers. However, if the arts field is truly your passion, there are many careers outside of the fine arts field that allow you to express your creative side while earning a decent living, especially if you are willing to learn some computer programs. For example, if you enjoy designing things such as logos, business cards, clip art, and flyers, there are plenty of jobs available as a graphic designer. With the technology field growing, there is high demand for multimedia artists and web designers, so if you are a highly technical person, these types of jobs may be for you.

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers take communications problems and analyze them to create visual solutions. They take advantage of the many media available-such as print, web, multimedia, and video-to get messages across using color, type, animation, photography, and print and layout techniques. Graphic designers design newspapers, magazines, books, and reports. They also produce marketing materials such as ads, flyers, brochures, signage, billboards, and packaging. They may create logos and other artwork for businesses. With new advances in technology, many graphic designers are learning to utilize web, multimedia, and interactive design.

Types of Art Careers

Graphic designers first meet with clients to develop an overall vision for a design. Then they create sketches or layouts, either by hand or computer, to illustrate their vision. Then they experiment with visual elements, such as typography, color, animation, and graphics-and the size and arrangement of all of these-to create an attractive document or package. The final product is given to the art director to review and approve, and then given to the client.

Graphic designers use graphics software, such Adobe Photoshop, PageMaker, InDesign, and Illustrator, to aid them with their creations. They often work for advertising, marketing, publishing, and design firms. Those who work in larger companies generally work normal hours, while those in smaller firms or at publishing companies often work long hours and weekends to meet deadlines. Many graphic designers are self-employed or do freelance work, and therefore work on a project basis.

A bachelor’s degree is usually required to work in most positions, although an associate’s degree or certificate may be sufficient for some entry-level positions. An impressive portfolio of one’s best artwork is essential in most positions. Many colleges offer degrees in fine arts or graphic design. Most school curriculums include studio art, graphic design principles, graphics production, computerized design, printing techniques, and web design. Some may opt to also take classes in business, writing, and marketing. Besides meeting the educational requirements, graphic designers must possess a large amount of creativity and excellent communications and problem-solving skills. They also must be extremely detail oriented and able to work independently and under pressure to ensure deadlines are met. It is also expected that graphic designers keep up with new and updated graphics software.

Art careers in graphic design are expected to grow as fast as average. There is a lot of competition for these jobs. Those with web design and animation skills will have the best opportunities. The average annual salary for graphic designers is $42,400, with salaries ranging from $26,110 to $74,660. Entry-level designers average $35,000 annually, with senior designers averaging $60,000. Those in computer design earn the most, with those in the printing industry earning the least.

Fashion Designer

For those interested in clothes and art, there are opportunities for art careers in fashion design. A fashion designer creates anything that is worn, such clothes, purses, shoes, hats, and accessories. There are also many types of clothes that need to be created, such as dresses, suits, sportswear, lingerie, maternity clothing, and women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing. There is a lot that goes into creating a product, from sketching designs and choosing materials to creating the products and marketing them to the public. Fashion designers perform business tasks and work with others from different departments. They do a lot of research to stay current on styles and use past research to predict trends. They also attend fashion shows to view up-and-coming fashions.

Although many fashion designers still sketch their designs by hand, most designers use computer-aided design (CAD) for their creations. This allows them to try out their designs on virtual models in various shapes and colors, thus saving time should the designer want to make any adjustments.

Although most fashion designers work for themselves, many design costumes and wardrobe for film, television, and theater productions. Fashion designers travel often to meet with vendors or attend fashion shows in other countries.

Most employers require a fashion designer to have some sort of education, whether it be an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Most programs require applicants to have taken basic classes in art and design and to submit a portfolio of sketches. Coursework includes color, textiles, sewing, pattern- making, CAD, fashion history, and how to design various types of clothing. Some fashion designers also take classes in psychology, anatomy, and math. Those looking to run their own business should also take classes in business and marketing. A good way for aspiring fashion designers to learn career skills is to intern at design or manufacturing firms or work in retail or sales.

Besides education, fashion designers need many skills. They have to be creative and stylish. Nobody will want to buy ugly clothes, so fashion designers need to always be current with fashion, especially with fads and styles always changing. They need to be artistic to create new styles from many types of materials. They need to be original and innovative. They also need business knowledge. Artistic ability is not enough if you don’t know how to market your clothing or run your own business. Fashion designers need to work well under pressure. There are many deadlines and an assortment of people you’ll need to work with. You’ll need to be able to work as a team to meet deadlines. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of being able to accept criticism. Critics can be brutal, so instead of getting angry at a bad review, accept the criticism and learn from it by making your styles even better.

Employment in the fashion industry is expected to grow very little. Some jobs will be created due to consumers wanting more types of clothing. Because most apparel is created overseas, jobs in clothing creation will decline. Jobs will be highly competitive, as many are attracted to the glamour and creativity of fashion design. Annual salaries range from $32,150 to $124,780, with the average salary at $61,160. Salaries vary based on employer and experience. Those in management make the most, while those in specialized design services earn the least. Starting salaries tend to be low until a fashion designer becomes established. Most fashion designers work in California and New York.

Video Producer

There are many art careers in the film, video, and motion picture industries. Video producers are the main people in the video industry. They are the ones who often come up with ideas for video-related projects. They oversee and coordinate projects from conception all the way to completion. Producers work with directors, production assistants, managers, and other staff. Sometimes the producer ends up being the director, so it’s essential that they have some directing skills themselves. They also secure funding for the projects and ensure that the video shoot stays within budget. Sometimes producers are also involved in the distribution and marketing stages.

Video producers also read, research, and review scripts. They secure rights to plays and novels. They hire staff to shoot videos and organize shooting schedules. They also network with others in the field.

There are no set educational requirements for video producers. Video producers come from many backgrounds, including writing, acting, business management, and film editing. Some producers get their start as actors or director’s assistants, while some work as press agents or theater managers. Although college education is required, some colleges and universities have classes in video production. There are also many film schools that offer degrees in video production.

Although there are no educational requirements, producers must have certain skills in order to succeed in the video production industry. Like most artists seeking successful art careers, they need creativity and talent. They need management skills to supervise the production assistants and other key staff. They also need to be able to manage a business successfully, and they should have skills in all facets of business, including budgeting, marketing, and relationship-building and communications skills.

Job opportunities for video producers are expected to grow as fast as average. Although many people are attracted to these jobs in hope of stardom and huge salaries, many people quickly become discouraged and leave the industry due to long hours and low pay. However, jobs are expected to increase due to expanding television and satellite operations and success at the box offices. Once producers work on several small successful projects, they can move up to bigger projects to gain more exposure and command more money.

Only the most successful video producers have very high earnings. However, there are many more who struggle to earn a living in this field and have to hold down jobs in other fields in order to survive. The annual salary range is $41,890 to $105,070, with the average at $85,940. The highest earnings come from the major studios in California and New York.


If you enjoy taking pictures, have some technical expertise, and have a good eye for what makes a good picture, then you may enjoy art careers in photography. Photographers use cameras to record events, paint a picture, or tell a story. Creating the perfect picture requires many elements, including lighting, background, different camera lenses, or shooting from a different angle. Most photographers today use digital cameras, though some still use traditional film cameras. Digital cameras are advantageous, though, because the photos can be transferred to a computer and enhanced, edited, and cropped through the use of photo editing software. The finished product can then be distributed to anyone anywhere through the Internet or via e-mail. The photographer can even post it on his or her Web page or include it in an online portfolio. Some photographers prefer to use film, either color or black and white, and develop it in their own darkroom. Developing photos this way involves extra expense, time, and skill.

There are many types of photography, and photographers usually specialize in one field. Portrait photographers take photos of people, either in groups or individually. Many work on location and specialize in weddings or school pictures. Portrait photographers often run their own business and therefore are responsible for many activities such as advertising, scheduling appointments, setting up equipment, ordering supplies, keeping records, billing customers, and training employees, if they have any. Commercial and industrial photographers take photos of a variety of subjects, including buildings, landscapes, artifacts, and merchandise. These photos are used in publications such as books, catalogs, and advertisements. Industrial photographers take photos of equipment, products, workers, and other work-related items. These photos are usually taken for publicity, record-keeping, or analysis purposes. News photographers are journalists who take photos of newsworthy people and events for broadcast and publication.

Many entry-level positions in photography require a degree from a college or vocational program. Photography courses are offered at most colleges and universities. These classes teach students how to use cameras and other equipment, as well as processes and techniques for taking photos. Some bachelor’s degree programs in photography also focus on marketing and business skills, since many photographers go into business for themselves. In fact, more than half of all photographers are self-employed, a much higher rate than most professions.

Besides education, photographers need good eyesight and hand-eye coordination. They should be patient, detail oriented, and artistic. They should also be able to work well with others and use computer software to edit photos. For those who are interested in running their own business, business management skills are essential.

Job opportunities are expected to grow as fast as average. There is a lot of competition for photography jobs because many people are attracted to the work. Annual wages for photographers range from $16,920 to $62,430, with the average at $29,440. Salaried photographers tend to earn more than those who are self-employed and have to purchase their own equipment.


If you love art and want to share your passion with others, you may want to consider art careers in the education field. An art educator, or teacher, teaches classes about an area of art, such as oil painting, ceramics, or drawing. They help students think visually and give them the skills to create artwork that use various shapes, colors, textures, and sizes. Art teachers not only teach students, but also supervise and assist them with their work, grade artwork, and encourage creativity. They teach art or art history in school and community settings. Art classes are required as part of most middle school curriculums and are also available in high schools, colleges, art schools, and the community. Some programs are even available in hospitals, prisons, and museums, all places that need talented and educated art teachers.

Art teachers usually hold a bachelor’s degree in fine arts or studio art, with a portion of their classes taken in education. Although some professional artists can use their experience in lieu of a degree, they still have to complete an educational training program. This is usually a year in length and includes courses such as teaching methods, classroom management, and child psychology. After graduation, students must complete a one-year internship as a student teacher at a school. Those who teach at public schools must obtain a teaching license.

The teaching field is competitive, so aspiring art teachers need to be highly skilled. Art teachers must have a thorough knowledge of art to teach at various grade levels. They must be able to develop skills in various art forms. They must know various art genres and art history. They must be able to understand abstract terms. They must be able to spot talent and motivate students to create to the best of their ability. With increased use of the Internet and digital technology, art teachers who can use computers, scanners, and digital cameras to create art will have more job opportunities.

Demand for art teachers is based on education budgets, location, company type, and grade level. The job outlook is very good due to a shortage of qualified teachers and many teachers retiring. The job market is usually best in rural areas and inner cities. The starting salary for an art teacher ranges from $27,000 to $32,000 a year. For full-time art teachers, the average annual salary is $54,000. Those who work in schools earn the least, while those who are self-employed or work for private companies earn the most.


Those who enjoy drawing a variety of objects have many art careers to choose from, including illustrator. An illustrator creates pictures for publications such as books and newspapers and for products such as calendars, greeting cards, stationery, and wrapping paper. An illustration is useful in getting a point across or helping a reader understand written material. Illustrations visually represent ideas, concepts, and stories. They include drawings, paintings, photos, graphs, and charts. Children’s book illustrations create pictures to make the story come to life and become more interesting to children. Illustrators use a variety of art tools, such as pen, pencil, oil paints, watercolors, pastels, chalk, and wood.

Medical and scientific illustrators combine artistic talent with knowledge of biology and sciences to create medical and science related drawings. Medical illustrators create drawings of human anatomy and surgical procedures, as well as 3-D models and animations. Scientific illustrators create drawings that include plant and animal life, geology, planets, and molecular structures.

Illustrating takes a lot of study and practice. There are many types of illustrators. If you are looking to become an illustrator for children’s books, read some books to get an idea of the kinds of things you will be drawing. Get some how-to books and do a lot of practicing. To build a client base, you may have to do some free work first. Look to local agencies and small businesses to see if they have a need for your work. Once you have several samples, create a web site or join an artist web site so that you can advertise and potential clients can see your work. Once you are ready to get paid for your work, look on the Internet for work. There are several bidding sites that have jobs for illustrators.

No formal education is required to become most types of illustrator, though many do have a degree or at least some training. Medical and science illustrators do need a background in medicine or science, usually in the form of a bachelor’s degree. Many schools offer degree programs and classes in visual communications, fine arts, and sketching. Some training in computer design is preferred, since many employers are increasingly seeking illustrators that can create designs using a computer. An excellent portfolio showing the illustrator’s best work is required by most employers.

It is not easy to become an illustrator. Many people are attracted to illustrating as a career; therefore, there is very tough competition for jobs. Demand for illustrators who are familiar with computer design will grow as media companies use more detailed images in their designs. However, those who work in publishing may see jobs decline as newspapers reduce staffing. As medical research grows, there will be high demand for medical illustrators. Most illustrators earn salaries ranging from $30,396 to $44,083, with those in the top 10 percent earning salaries higher than $50,000.

Museum Curator

There are art careers out there for those interested in art history. Jobs for these art lovers are called museum curators. Museum curators oversee large collections of artwork and other historical pieces. Museums of all types and sizes rely on curators to find and display high-quality artwork for the public. Larger museums employ several curators.

Museum curator duties may vary based on the size of the museum. Curators organize, evaluate, and verify the authenticity of collection items. They authorize sales, purchases, exchanges, and loans of the collection. They negotiate prices in order to acquire new items. They identify and research items of interest. They catalog and display collection items. They schedule and conduct tours, workshops, and programs. They may participate in fundraising for the museum by writing grants and applying for loans. They may also perform research and administrative tasks. Some curators manage the museum’s web site or budget. Museum curators for large museums often travel to find new items for their collection, whereas those in smaller museums do not usually travel.

Educational requirements for museum curators are very intensive. Positions require at least a master’s degree in art history. It is recommended to get two master’s degrees, one in museum studies and another in a specialty, such as art history or archaeology, to really stand out. It may even be a good idea to get a Ph.D. Only a handful of schools in the United States offer graduate degrees in museum studies. It’s best to get an internship at a museum while in college to gain hands-on experience.

Museum curators must be extremely knowledgeable in art history. Overall writing skills must be excellent, as curators write grants, marketing material, and information about art pieces. Computer skills are also required to update collection databases. Knowledge of marketing and public relations is recommended, since museum curators need to be able to design exhibits that appeal to the public. They must also be patient and detail oriented. In addition, they should be creative, decisive, and organized.

Job growth in these art careers is expected to increase faster than average due to public interest in museums being expected to remain steady, combined with the strong financial health of museums. There is a large amount of competition for this career, as there are more applicants with master’s degrees than there are jobs. Annual salaries for museum curators range from $34,910 to $63,940, with an average salary of $47,220. In the federal government, the average salary is $90,205.

Fine Artist

When many people think of art careers, they think of artists such as painters, illustrators, and sculptors. These types of artists are called fine artists. Fine artists create artwork through a variety of mediums. They use watercolors, oil, pencil, and ink to create artwork. Some artists even create artwork through the use of computers. Common types of artwork that fine artists create include illustrations, paintings, drawings, and models. They often specialize in one type of work, such as two-dimensional (painting and drawing), three-dimensional (sculpture), and four-dimensional (moving images). Many artists go a step further and also specialize in specific subjects or areas such as abstracts, portraits, or landscapes.

Depending on the individual, the types of clients he serves, and the artwork he creates, the duties of a fine artist vary. Fine artists generate ideas and create sketches. They may work with clients to create artwork based on the client’s requirements. They may perform research using libraries and the Internet, and work at various locations. Artists have to stay current on art trends in order to be successful, so many artists read trade publications and attend local events involving art. They may generate publicity for their artwork by writing press releases or organizing art shows. They may network with gallery owners, curators, and other artists. Networking may include attending art exhibitions.

Artists need to keep practicing and improving upon their work, so that they are constantly learning new art skills and techniques. Besides learning new skills, they should be able to think critically and solve complex problems through the creation of art. They should be creative thinkers who can come up with unique and clever ways to produce art without reproducing the work of other artists. They need excellent color vision, manual dexterity, and steadiness in their arms and hands. These physical qualities are especially important because art is very detailed and exact. One wrong stroke can ruin an artist’s vision for her painting.

As in most jobs, communications skills are important, since artists need to be able to sell their work through persuasion and marketing. They also need to be able to develop relationships with art gallery owners, clients, fellow artists, and other art professionals in the community. If they are lucky enough to work on multiple projects at once, they must be organized and able to prioritize work.

Although a college education is generally not required for fine artists, as least some schooling is recommended, as it is very difficult to find work without some formal training. Creativity, artistic talent, and skills are typically the most important factors. Those looking for fine art careers should assemble a portfolio of their best work, as most employers in the art field require one. Fine artists advance in their career through word of mouth. They gain success as their artwork circulates throughout the community and they become well known for a specific style of art.

Job opportunities are expected to increase as fast as average. Although there are many more creative people than job openings, clients and employers are always looking for fresh new talent. Annual salaries for fine artists range from $29,230 to $60,650, with the average at $42,650.

Painting Restorer

If you are looking for non-traditional types of art careers, you may want to consider a career as a painting conservator, more commonly known as a painting restorer. A painting restorer does not create artwork as in other art careers, but they do have to use creativity in order to fix and restore paintings. Using techniques based on art knowledge, painting restorers examine paintings and use various cleaning materials to remove discoloration and other defects. They stretch linen backings, apply paste, and use a laminating press to laminate pieces together. They restore damaged and faded areas of paintings by using beeswax, color powder, and other substances.

Painting restorers maintain consistency in restoring and retouching techniques by studying the materials, styles, colors, and skills used by artists. This includes using blending techniques to ensure consistency between the restored and original versions. They must be knowledgeable about all types of paintings and about all the paint, chemicals, and other restoration equipment needed. Painting restorers also apply preservatives, such as varnish, to paintings. Great care must be taken to avoid damaging paintings even further. Because of this, painting restoration is a highly skilled job that is reserved for experts in the field.

There is some controversy over painting restoration because it involves making permanent changes to artwork. Although restorers attempt to preserve the artwork and maintain its integrity, they ultimately repair and restore paintings so as to look how they think they should. They make paintings look pristine, which goes against the belief that art should look as genuine as possible.

Painting restorers usually gain education from workshops, training, and apprenticeships, though many colleges offer degrees in art restoration. Most art restoration programs are in Europe, including Belgium, Czech Republic/Slovakia, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Programs generally take three years to complete and include internships, research papers and oral and written exams. Students learn to restore a variety of materials, including tables, canvas, stone, and stucco. They are given ample lab time for hands-on learning. There are degree programs in painting restoration, frame restoration, and paper conservation. It is important to pick which one best suits your interest before enrolling.

All paintings will eventually need some restoration work due to the aging process, exposure to the natural environment, varying climates, and improper care. Because of this, there will always be a need for highly qualified painting restorers. Average annual salaries range from the low $30,000s to the low $40,000s, depending on location and experience.

Web Design

If you’re looking for creative yet challenging and technical art careers, you may be interested in web design. Web designers create web sites by designing the layout, creating content, adding images and multimedia, and making sure that all technical aspects work. Web designers work with clients to ensure that all requirements are met and within budget and time constraints. They are responsible for updating and maintaining the site after it is created. They also fix any web site issues, such as broken links or pages not loading correctly. Web designers are needed in all types of companies, including design firms, advertising agencies, engineering firms, and large corporations. It is even possible to become a freelancer and do web design in your free time or as a full-time career.

Web designers design pages using codes such as HTML and XTML. They must be able to obtain relevant graphics for the web site. There are several main types of web sites, such as business, entertainment, information, and personal. Successful web designers should know the differences between these and how the function and style for these vary. Web designers sometimes create special functions for web sites, such as guest books, online forums, and quizzes.

Educational requirements for web designers vary. They are not set in stone because each company has different requirements. Sometimes previous training or a certificate in web design is sufficient, though many jobs require a bachelor’s degree. Web design degree programs teach HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), page editing software, animation, web graphics, video production, and JavaScript. Other classes include multimedia, database design, and e-commerce. Some programs also teach marketing and business so that web designers can create web sites that will successfully market and sell a company’s products. It is important to focus on design skills since many web designers know how to build web pages, but know very little about what to put on them and how to design them attractively. It is important to learn design skills first, and then learn how to apply them to web pages.

Web designers must have planning, listening, and communications skills. They must have a solid understanding of advanced Internet technologies such as HTML, XHTML, security, Java, JavaScript, Perl, file transfer protocol, and e-mail. They must be familiar with various software such as text editors and authoring, animation, and graphics tools. They must understand programming, search engines, downloading, and web browser compatibility. They also must be detail oriented and have good problem-solving and troubleshooting skills.

Due to the huge increase in electronic media, there is very high demand for qualified web designers. Since the Internet was created, millions of web sites have been launched, with no end in sight. With the Internet here to stay, there’s job stability in this career. The average annual salary for a web designer is approximately $61,000, though this can vary based on education, experience, and company size. Once you become experienced in web design, you can move up to senior web designer positions, which average $85,000 per year.