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:
The category of visual arts also includes applied arts, such as:
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.
Where can visual artists find work?
Visual artists can find work in a number of creative and progressive environments, including:
Interior design firms
Social media companies
Schools and universities
Read more: 10 High-Paying Jobs for Art Majors
Visual arts careers
Here are a range of careers in visual arts:
Museum or gallery curator
Greeting card designer
Art writer or critic
Film restoration specialist
Art preservation specialist
Museum or gallery docent
Fabric and textile designer
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
Digital media animation
Modern art history
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.
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.
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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