A working artist
As a commercial artist for over 30 years, I have worked at various arts jobs throughout the years. I have been fortunate to use my creative skills in many of the art related fields - photography, graphic design, sign-making, painting and teaching. Although my degree is in commercial art, my art has surfaced in all of these other mediums. My salary has varied, with most of my income coming from creating art for commercial purposes.
If you are artistic, love being creative and are considering a career in the arts, there are many different types of art fields you can enter into.
The different types of arts jobs available
The following jobs are some of the more well-known fields that us creative souls can enter into:
Merchandise Displayers and Window Trimmers
- Graphic designer
- Multimedia Artists and Animators
- Art Teacher or Instructor
- Interior Designer
- Web Designer
- Building Architect
- Landscape Architect
- Freelance Artist
Art jobs teaching art
My current part-time position is as an art teacher teaching fine arts to children ages 3-16. Because I have such an extensive background in art and love working with kids, this is a perfect job for me. I am able to use all my knowledge of art mediums that I have worked with for years, and transfer and pass along that knowledge to the next generation. Finding work as an art instructor or teacher is getting more difficult now though. Many schools have cut back the arts programs and many do not even offer art in school anymore. Most art teachers now work for high schools or colleges, or at owner based studios like I do. Some art teachers are self-employed, teaching children art through private lessons in their homes or at those of their students.
Most art teachers have a 4 year degree in not only education but also art history. I have a degree in commercial art but have worked with fine art mediums for over 30 years, so I am very comfortable teaching children drawing, painting and sculpting skills (I also worked with clay alot in high school and college)
Jobs as art teachers and instructors can be highly rewarding for those that want to pass along what they have learned, enjoy working with kids and have alot of patience, allowing individuals to develop their own artistic voice. Teachers need to be flexible and patient of the creative process and be open to new ideas at the same time.
Average Salaries and Wage for Arts Jobs (2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Photographers: $29,130 per year or $14.00 per hour
Graphic Designers: $43,500 per year or $20.92 per hour
Art Director: $80,630 per year or $38.77 per hour
Landscape Architect: $62,090 per year or $29.85 per hour
Art Teacher (Post-secondary): $62,330 a year
Fine Artists and Crafters: $43,470 per year or $20.90 per hour
Multimedia Artists and Animators: $58,510 per year or $28.13 per hour
Interior Designer: $43,970 per year or $24.13 per hour
Merchandise Displayers and Window Trimmers: $26,190 or $13.70 an hour
My last job before teaching was as a newborn baby photographer at a hospital. I did photo shoots of the babies and their families before they left the hospital. This job, I have to say, was one of the most fun jobs I have ever had! I worked on an hourly basis, and made commission if my hourly sales topped 28% of the total sales. I used a Nikon camera that my company supplied, and a computer that tracked all of the sales and orders. If you like newborns, enjoy working with families and love photography, this could be the job for you!
What Photographers Do:
Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images that visually tell a story or record an event.
Some of the jobs available to photographers include:
- Wedding photographers. This can be a very competitive field, but if you have your own equipment and enjoy working with people, are flexible and understand how to process, develop and create a story with your photos, this might be an excellent art job to try out. You can do freelance wedding photos (be a weekend warrior) or work for a commercial photography company that specializes in weddings. Wedding photographers can make anywhere from $20,000 and up per year, depending on their experience, equipment, availability and expertise. One wedding photographer shares this excellent advice for those that want to go into wedding photography: "If you want to do photography for a living, major in business. An average photographer who is great at business is almost always more successful than a great photographer who isn't strong on the business side."
Product photography. All those beautiful website photos, magazines, newspapers and companies usually use a professional photographer for their photos. I know a photographer that specializes in doing aerial photography from a helicopter, shooting photos of buildings in the Silicon Valley. These types of photography jobs are usually freelance unless you happen to get lucky and land a full time gig for a large corporation or business. Wide range of salaries here but according to the 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics, most photographers make $29,130 per year or $14.00 per hour.
With the ease and availability of affordable digital cameras, some photographers have found declining sales and declining jobs because of "do-it-yourselfer" photographers. Although digital cameras are a wonderful thing to have, just having a digital camera does not make one a professional photographer.
Good photographers understand layout, color and composition and are able to "tell a story" through their work.
Jobs in Graphics Design
As of 2010, 29% of graphic designers were self-employed. Graphic design jobs are as diverse and wide ranging as the graphic designing itself.
I worked for many years as a sign-maker when we owned a sign business, and I designed all the layouts and artwork for small businesses, little league teams, city identity, homeowners associations and the police and fire departments, just to name a few. I used Adobe Illustrator and a specialized sign software program for designing and creating layouts and the finished signs for companies and individuals.
I have done various other graphic design jobs over the years - for churches and businesses including business cards, flyers, signage and web design. I currently use my graphic design skills to maintain my own websites and occasionally create digital art, which is more of a hobby for me now. Depending on the area, graphic designers can make anywhere from entry level wages ($10.00 an hour, up to $20.00 an hour plus depending on their level of expertise and contribution to the company)
What Graphic Designers Do:
Graphic designers create visual concepts, by hand or using computer software, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. They help to make an organization recognizable by selecting color, images, or logo designs that represent a particular idea or identity to be used in advertising and promotions.
Some of the jobs as graphic designers include:
- Web Design
- Game Creation
- Logo Design
- Product and advertising design (signs, manuals, business cards, logos and commercial art)
The pathways of an artist
Just last week I had a heartfelt talk with my art students parents. She was very concerned because her daughter worked very slow at her art projects, and was considering withdrawing her from art classes because she thought she was just too slow to keep up. I discouraged her from doing this because I realized her daughter, although slow, is extremely talented. She is just very methodical in her drawing and painting.
I explained to her that these attributes could lead her into being an engineer, architect or other highly organized art field where these attributes would be highly prized. Creative people do not fit into any type really, there are many variations of us and sometimes we have to try different arts jobs before landing on that one that is right for us. Just because you are good at illustrating and drawing a persons face doesn't mean that you are going to make a good sculptor. Some people erroneously assume that because you are an "artist", that you can sit down and crank out a beautiful landscape on canvas - or draw a lifelike portrait of their cat or dog. Most artists have "specialties", although some can be artistic in many mediums.
And for some of us, like me, our lives as artists evolve, and this is how we end up learning new ideas and finding new ways to create. Like a very astute teacher once told me, our art will always surface somewhere! If you are creative, artistic and have a passion to have a job as an artist, some of these arts jobs may be just the thing for you - and if not - you can always try different ones and find out where you fit. I know for me, it has been a journey in which there is no destination or "arrival point", only adventures every step of the way.
An artists path never ends!