How To Advance Your Art Career (With Example Jobs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 8, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you enjoy creating art, you may want to know how to develop your artistic business. Advancing your art career can help you increase public awareness of your art business, hone your skills and increase sales of your work. Artists looking to grow their careers may choose from a range of professional development strategies based on what might work best for their artistic discipline and career goals. In this article, we provide examples of five different art professions and discuss how to help you advance your art career in 16 steps.

Related: 66 Business Ideas for Artists and Creative Professionals

Examples of art careers

Here are some examples of art careers you might explore. For the most up-to-date Indeed salaries, please click on the links below:

1. Sculptor

National average salary: $43,052 per year

Primary duties: A sculptor creates three-dimensional works of art. They use techniques such as whittling, carving, molding and chiseling to make art pieces from materials such as clay, wood or stone. Many sculptors handle the business aspects of their artistic profession, such as marketing their work or negotiating contracts with studios or galleries. Other responsibilities may include referencing models or photographs when creating their sculptures, using hand or power tools, ordering materials and collaborating with other art professionals.

2. Art teacher

National average salary: $48,947 per year

Primary duties: An art teacher educates students about art history, principles, mediums and techniques. Art teachers can instruct students of varying ages and abilities, although some may specialize in a particular age group, artistic movement or discipline. Some art teachers may find employment at a school or community organization, while others may prefer to offer private instruction. Their responsibilities can vary based on what and who they teach, but may include designing course curriculum, giving students the opportunity to practice with various art mediums, leading lectures or classroom discussions and offering constructive feedback on student assignments and art pieces.

3. Graphic designer

National average salary: $51,263 per year

Primary duties: A graphic designer creates images or visual designs for a company. They may design a range of graphic elements, including logos, print materials, product packaging or website layouts. Many graphic designers create images using software, but some may use physical methods such as drawing or painting by hand. Specific responsibilities may include discussing a client's graphic design needs, collaborating with other professionals, adjusting visual elements such as color schemes or font sizes and revising their designs based on client feedback.

Read more: Learn About Being a Graphic Designer

4. Curator

National average salary: $53,234 per year

Primary duties: Curators acquire, organize, preserve and display historical artifacts or works of art. Their goal is typically to exhibit art pieces and historical artifacts in a way that allows audiences to learn more about each piece, including its artistic significance or historical context. Many curators work at museums, but some may find employment opportunities at studios, galleries or academic institutions. Other responsibilities may include developing educational or outreach programs, determining the best way to preserve various artifacts, supervising exhibitions and negotiating contract terms for art sales or loans.

5. Art director

National average salary: $63,155 per year

Primary duties: An art director oversees the visual elements of a magazine, film, product, book or advertising campaign. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that all the visual aspects of their production or publication run smoothly and that the various elements create a cohesive design. They often supervise various staff members, such as photographers, illustrators, camera crew members, writers and other creative professionals. An art director may also manage project budgets, determine project schedules, critique or approving content and hire freelancers.

Read more: Learn About Being an Art Director

How to advance your art career

Here are 16 ways you can advance your art career:

  1. Know your goals

Before you apply other strategies to advance your art career, it can be helpful to determine your professional goals. For example, you may want to sell more of your art, teach art history, increase public awareness of your art or develop your online presence. Evaluate your current experience level when considering this so that you can set goals that are logical and achievable.

2. Practice your art skills

Commit to regularly practicing your craft. No matter your chosen artistic discipline or style, making time to consistently create art can further develop your artistic skills and help you generate a portfolio of work to show to potential clients, studio owners, curators or other professionals in the artistic community. This may also allow you to see how your style and expertise evolve over time.

Related: 10 Art Fundamentals To Improve Your Artist Skills

3. Apply for opportunities

Submit applications for art contests, exhibitions and publications. These and other types of opportunities can help generate public attention for your work and may potentially offer monetary compensation. Staying up to date on contests and exhibitions can also alert you to trends in the arts industry.

4. Create a studio space

Create or find a space where you can produce your art. This studio may be in your house or you might decide to rent a studio or office. Outfit the space with the artistic tools you use to create your work and anything else you might need. You might also want a method of organization for your art projects, such as labeled files or cabinets. Consider finding a well-lit space equipped with proper ventilation, as these qualities can affect your comfort and help you be more productive.

  1. Pursue an art education

Find ways to continue learning more about art. Continually educating yourself on various artistic principles and techniques can help you distinguish yourself as an artist and better understand the arts industry. You might pursue art education through courses, books, online tutorials, degrees or certifications. Pick a method that aligns with your current professional goals. You might decide to hone your artistic skills in your chosen discipline, experiment with other artistic styles or educate yourself on art history.

6. Build a strong online presence

Build your online presence, such as through a business website, blog, digital portfolio or social media account. Maintaining an online presence can make it easier for people to find and learn more about your art. You might also provide ways for people to interact with you, such as by sending personal messages or comments on social media. These digital channels may contain samples of your art, a brief biography, information on where to buy your art and contact information.

Related: How To Create and Improve Your Online Presence

7. Give and receive construction criticism

Find ways to give other artists constructive criticism and receive feedback on your own works of art. You might do this by enrolling in a workshop, starting an art critique group or reaching out to individual artists to ask if they'd like to exchange feedback. Knowing how to offer others polite and useful feedback can help you learn how to understand and interpret different styles or genres of art. To improve your ability to receive constructive criticism, practice listening to feedback with an open mind and evaluating later whether you want to apply that feedback to your work.

  1. Develop your business skills

Many artists make their art and manage the business aspects of their artistic profession. They might market their work, negotiate contract terms, sell pieces to clients, inventory their supplies and establish price points. Learning business skills such as budgeting and advertising can help you successfully perform these tasks. You might develop these skills through classes, certificate programs or online tutorials.

9. Explore different art styles

Seek out art with varying styles that originate from diverse disciplines. Regularly exploring different kinds of art by other artists can help you feel inspired to make your own work and stay informed about current artistic movements. Consider visiting galleries, studios and museums or looking at art prints in books or online.

10. Network with other professionals

Foster and maintain a network with other professionals in the art industry. These contacts may be artists, gallery owners, curators, agents, critics or other professionals who create, sell, interact with or exhibit art. Sustaining a network of art professionals can help you learn about new opportunities related to your professional ambitions.

Related: How To Make Money as an Artist (Plus 9 Revenue Streams)

11. Learn to interpret your own art

Think about how you interpret your own art and how you might explain your art to others. Professionals in the art industry who purchase or exhibit art often ask artists to describe the meaning of their art on applications or during interviews for contests, publications and exhibitions. Being able to talk coherently about your art might also lead to related career opportunities, such as leading art workshops or becoming an art instructor.

12. Curate a portfolio

Develop and curate both a digital and physical portfolio. A physical portfolio can be an asset during in-person meetings or interviews, while a digital portfolio might help you build your online presence or reach interested parties outside your vicinity. Consider choosing diverse pieces for your portfolio that demonstrate a range of your artistic abilities and techniques.

13. Create business cards

Create or buy business cards specific to your artistic career. Business cards can help you build and develop connections with curators, gallery owners, art directors and other professionals within the art industry. Having business cards can also demonstrate to others that you are serious about your artistic career.

Include your full name, the title of your profession or business, your phone number, professional email address and any relevant social media accounts on the business cards. You may also want to include a photograph of your art on the front of the business card to make it easier for professionals to remember you and associate you with your unique creations.

14. Sell your work at craft shows

Look for local opportunities to sell your work. These opportunities may be events like art fairs, craft shows or charity auctions. Other locations such as coffee shops and libraries also sometimes display the work of local artists and allow interested visitors to purchase the art. Attending local events and displaying your art in the community can also help expand your professional network and increase public awareness of your artistic abilities.

Related: Creating Emphasis in Art: Definition, Importance and Methods

15. Advertise your art

Consider advertising your art locally, online or both, depending on the type of art business you run, your career goals and target audience. Advertising methods might include flyers or digital content. You could also seek out other opportunities to increase exposure for your art career, such as setting up an interview with a journalist or appearing as a guest speaker on a podcast.

16. Photograph your work

Having high-quality photographs of your artwork may make it easier for you to show your art to professionals or prospective clients when it isn't practical to bring original copies of your pieces. Photographs of your art may also enable you to add more content to both your digital and physical portfolios. You can hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your work or take the photographs yourself. If you decide to take your own photos, pose your art pieces in a well-lit room with minimal clutter in the background so that your artwork remains the focus.

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