A Comprehensive List of Visual Arts Careers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published February 22, 2021

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.

Artists enjoy stimulating, creative careers that allow them to make a living doing something they love. The arts are segmented into various categories, and artists often find a niche that interests and inspires them. Working in visual arts can span multiple industries, including entertainment, fashion and marketing. In this article, we discuss what visual art is, where visual artists might work, visual art careers, how to get a job in visual arts and the skills needed for a career in visual arts.

What is visual art?

Visual art is art that relies on a visual experience of it. Examples of visual art include:

  • Painting

  • Drawing

  • Sculpture

  • Photography

  • Architecture

  • Design

  • Crafts

  • Films

The category of visual arts also includes applied arts, such as:

  • Industrial design

  • Graphic design

  • Interior design

  • Fashion design

Other forms of art can incorporate visual arts. For example, the costume designs of a play are works of visual arts included in a performing arts piece.

Related: Commercial Arts: Definition and Careers to Pursue

Where can visual artists find work?

Visual artists can find work in a number of creative and progressive environments, including:

  • Art galleries

  • Museums

  • Government agencies

  • Freelance jobs

  • Marketing agencies

  • Interior design firms

  • Fashion brands

  • Social media companies

  • Schools and universities

  • Photography studios

  • Architecture firms

  • Art studios

  • Theaters

  • Production companies

  • Auction houses

  • Libraries

Read more: 10 High-Paying Jobs for Art Majors

Visual arts careers

Here are a range of careers in visual arts:

  • Graphic designer

  • Photographer

  • Photography assistant

  • Sculptor

  • Interior designer

  • Design assistant

  • Fashion designer

  • Set designer

  • Costume designer

  • Makeup artist

  • Architect

  • Art director

  • Painter

  • Animation artist

  • Illustrator

  • Museum or gallery curator

  • Art instructor

  • Art consultant

  • Brand manager

  • Marketing director

  • Creative director

  • Book designer

  • Videographer

  • Camera operator

  • Video editor

  • Filmmaker

  • Production assistant

  • Freelance artist

  • Greeting card designer

  • Industrial designer

  • Jewelry designer

  • Photojournalist

  • Tattoo artist

  • Exhibit designer

  • Art writer or critic

  • Film restoration specialist

  • Art preservation specialist

  • Art historian

  • Art appraiser

  • Antique dealer

  • Museum or gallery docent

  • Art therapist

  • Package designer

  • UX specialist

  • Landscape architect

  • Landscape designer

  • Urban designer

  • Art dealer

  • Court artist

  • Sketch artist

  • Fabric and textile designer

  • Furniture designer

  • Gallery owner

  • Gallery director

  • Printer

  • Muralist

  • Stylist

How to get a job in visual arts

Here the steps you can take to begin a career in visual arts:

1. Earn a degree

Consider earning a bachelor's degree in art, such as a Bachelor of Fine Art, a to learn about color, art history, theories, composition and form. A formal degree program should also include training on industry technology and software, like computer-aided design programs. Typical bachelor programs include courses such as:

  • 2D and 3D design

  • Advanced visual field reporting

  • Contemporary drawing

  • Digital media animation

  • Life drawing

  • Modern art history

  • Painting

  • Photography

  • Printmaking

  • Screen printing

  • Sculpture

  • Ceramics

  • Visual storytelling

2. Build a portfolio

Compile your pieces into a comprehensive portfolio. You can host your profile online or create a physical packet to share with interviewers and program directors.

3. Create a bold cover letter and resume

As an artist, you can use your cover letter and resume to display your talent. Consider creating a resume that stands out, such as an interactive resume or video resume.

Read more: How To Write an Artistic Resume (With Examples)

4. Check job boards

Look for jobs on digital job boards and job search sites. You can also check neighborhood message boards for single projects.

Read more: 20 Places to Find Creative Job Listings

5. Consult with a career center

Your school or community center may have a career placement division that can help you find open positions, prepare for interviews, create your resume and network.

6. Seek commissioned work

Look online for companies or individuals seeking artists for commissioned works, such as public art, murals, sculptures and portraits. Often, government organizations seek artists to create pieces for parks, recreation centers and government-funded museums.

6. Advertise your services

Create profiles on job search sites, upload your resume and list the types of jobs you're interested in. You can also reach out to friends, family members and your social media contacts to let them know you're available for work.

7. Contact companies directly

Consider calling or emailing companies that interest you to discuss possible openings. Even if no positions are immediately available, you might be able to schedule an informational interview to learn more about the company and help managers remember you if a job opens up.

8. Increase exposure to your work

Ask to put your art in local businesses, like coffee shops, boutiques and libraries. Store owners may let you include your contact information for customers.

9. Freelance

Before you find a permanent position, consider freelancing in areas like graphic design, fashion styling and interior design. The contacts you make could lead to a regular position or help you launch your own business.

Skills for a career in visual arts

To have a successful career in visual arts, here some skills you should develop:

  • Software program skills: You should have an in-depth of the computer programs used in your industry.

  • Communication skills: Artists often communicate to colleagues, supervisors and the public about their work. You should be able to express your ideas and inspiration clearly and effectively.

  • Ability to collaborate: Artists work with other professionals, like art directors, and other artists in many phases of a project.

  • Marketing and business skills: Many artists work on a freelance or commission basis, so it's important to market your skills and learn the basic of owning a business, like budgeting and invoicing.

  • Creativity: A career in visual arts requires you to be creative and innovative and sustain this progressive mentality throughout the course of your career.

  • Interpersonal skills: Working well with others is an important part of recruiting new freelance clients, doing well in interviews, working on group projects and managing challenging situations.

  • Mechanical skills: If your medium involves tools or equipment, you should understand how to operate these tools safely and effectively.

  • Artistic skills: You should hone your specific artistic skills, whether your focus is painting, illustrating or designing costumes. Be willing to learn and grow by attending workshops, following industry trends and completing continuing education courses.

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