Art may not be a vocational subject, one that leads to a specific career but this doesn’t mean it won’t be a good preparation for the world of work.
Whether you choose to specialize in fine art or the history of art, the skills you gain during your degree are likely to be highly valued and transferable to many sectors. Alongside a range of practical arts skills, art graduates should also have good observational, analytical and research skills, including the ability to solve problems creatively and work well both independently and in groups.
In the majority of the art careers, you will find it essential or highly advantageous to have a varied portfolio of work to show prospective employers, including some of your own original ideas as well as coursework. The theoretical side of your degree should allow you to put this work into context, explaining your influences, the thought behind your choice of themes and why you used certain materials and techniques.
Typical art careers
Kicking off with perhaps the most obvious of art careers, there is no reason why you cannot pursue a career as a professional artist if you have talent and dedication. You will also need plenty of self-belief, stamina and the ability to promote yourself, as this is a highly competitive career path. Relevant work experience in the creative sector, such as working as a studio assistant, would be useful, and you should be resourceful in finding new and interesting places to showcase and sell your work to get yourself known. Some fine artists also decide to continue developing their work alongside work in a relevant full- or part-time job.
Photographers use a range of equipment to capture permanent images in the style and brief set by a client or employer. There are a wide range of purposes and specializations in photography – from weddings to advertising, photo journalism and more. Some fields, such as fashion photography, are particularly competitive, and you may find it beneficial to have a Master of Fine Arts specializing in photography.
An animator produces multiple images called frames, which when sequenced together create an illusion of movement known as animation. Animators could even work in the visual effects team on a film. This is another competitive area and in this case, to become an animator you need to have artistic talent and strong technical skills with a good eye for detail.
A graphic designer is responsible for creating design solutions that have a high visual impact. The role involves working to a brief agreed with the client, creative director or account manager. Graphic designers develop creative ideas and concepts, choosing the appropriate media and style to meet the client’s objectives. To become a graphic designer, it is very useful if you have specialized in design (or an aspect of design) in your degree and mastered the skills required, such as the use of computer packages like Photoshop.
As an arts administrator, you would plan and organize arts activities and ensure they are successful. If you’re passionate about the arts and enjoy managing and organizing, this career could be for you, enabling you to gain new perspectives on art and its various community and social roles. You will need strong administration and computer skills for this role.
Printmakers create art using printing press, typically on paper, and again usually work to set briefs. Techniques used include etching, block-printing, woodcuts, silk-screening and lithography, with electronic and digital processes increasingly being used. You might find that printmaking emerges as your preferred medium following a degree in fine arts, especially if you specialize in design or illustration.
Other careers in art
If none of the above art careers appeal to you, there are still plenty of options available. Art graduates can also apply for mainstream graduate jobs and training in a wide variety of industries, such as media, marketing, public relations and even accounting.
By: Oko Petse