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Careers in Fine Arts

Updated on September 8, 2012

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

Fine artists create beautiful or thought-provoking objects for exhibition at museums or for sales to private collectors and businesses. They use different media such as oil paints, canvas, glass, stone or clay, and techniques such as painting, glassblowing, or sculpting. Most earn their pay through self-employment, though some have jobs with private companies and the government.


Fine artists are typically known by the type of art in which they specialize. Cartoonists draw cartoons to poke fun at politics, advertise a product or service, or entertain in comic books. Fine art painters paint such subjects as landscapes and portraits using styles ranging from realistic to abstract. Sculptors create three-dimensional art using clay, glass, plastic, metal or wood. Illustrators draw pictures for books and magazines. And printmakers use a silk screen, woodblock, metal etching plate and other matrixes to create images. Though both fine artists and craft artists create beautiful thing, the former concentrates on aesthetics, while the latter’s works have utilitarian functions.


A formal education is not a necessary prerequisite for fine artists, and many may express their artistic sensibilities beginning from childhood. However, classes and degrees are available for fine art, which improves skills and employability. Courses can focus on skills such as art history and studio art, or on core subjects such as English, natural science and social science. Getting a degree allows the student to develop a portfolio, which is a collection of the artist’s best work. Employers generally look at these portfolios when deciding to hire their owners.


Fine artists averaged $53,400 per year, or $25.67 per hour, as of May 2011, states the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest paid 10 percent earned $90,050 per year, or $43.29, while the lowest paid earned less than $19,150, or $9.20 per hour. About 4,290 of the total 11,830 were independent artists, with averages at $49,930, or $24.00. Next for employment were the 1,970 in the motion picture and video industries. They earned a mean $65,980, or $31.72. The highest paying employers were architectural, engineering and related service, with annual means at $75,430, or $36.27.


Jobs for fine artists will grow by 8 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS. This is far faster than the 1 percent predicted for all artists and related workers. But it is still under the 14 percent rate expected for all jobs in all industries. Jobs can depend on the state of the economy. When times are good, more people are buying. When they are bad, they buy less. Competition will be fierce because more qualified candidates exist than there are jobs to hire them. (REFERENCE 4)


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    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      You are collecting quite a range of these salary hubs. This profession seems to be a lot about getting recognized. While you don't need to be famous, you do need to build a reputation!

      Shared, up and interesting.

    • dinkan53 profile image

      dinkan53 5 years ago from India

      It is very important to be updated on all levels as the demand and competition is increasing day by day. Informative article and very helpful, thanks for sharing it up. SHARED!

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Great stuff as always! I first majored in commercial art as i thought that would be the career I would "fall back" on if my acting career was a bust. I have to laugh at my thinking because a career in the arts was just as competitive. I must have had talent and confidence because it worked for me.

      Today I say, follow your dream and do what you love, no matter what.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Although the arts scene is a hard one to crack and earn well from, I would imagine that it is also quite rewarding and interesting to do long term.

      Shared, up, interesting, pinned and tweeted.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      I would love to do more in the art world, but I was thinking that it would not pay much. It is good to know that the salaries are not as low as I thought. Voted up.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very interesting stats and write. My son is not into fine arts but connected to it by way of drawing interior design sketches for clients. He is an interior designer.

      I think the salaries on the lower end are really low for creative people. The disparity in earnings between the 2 extremes is too great for the fine artists.

      Voted up.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Voted up, useful, and interesting Alocsin. This would be a great career path for anyone with such talents. If I had to guess, a well established artist would make over a $100,000 a year. Always interesting to learn all the numbers and stats Alocsin. Great work as always.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      They don't call it "starving artists" for nothing! I am surprised that the high end of this career makes such a good wage, though. It's definitely an enjoyable job for those who have the skill. Another great entry in the series. Voted up and shared!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Great post on this career choice. Fine art is one career that once you make it, your earnings continue to spiral upwards.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Another informative hub! You do keep them coming. I'm surprised the job possibilities are going up. That's great. I love the arts being appreciated.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 5 years ago from Indonesia

      Hello alocsin, that's a good job with good income. There are many examples about people become billionaires from fine art careers which has proven that this is a very promising career.

    • greeneryday profile image

      greeneryday 5 years ago from Some tropical country

      I think fine arts one of those careers that will always find its place in their own way in any given time of any years. When we talk about creativity something that would be hard to compete. Each fine artists will have their own characteristics that will reflect in their artworks, so eventually unique creations...thanks for sharing such an interesting hub, voted for awesome!

    • profile image

      ignugent17 5 years ago

      This will inspire all artist and look for the best place they can show their talents and earn.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Interesting information and my hope is that the area of fine arts is indeed growing as the government statistics indicate. People who have the skills and motivation to create art in whatever form are more likely to do so if they can still manage to eat and keep a roof over their heads.


    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Interesting that a fine arts career does pay quite well, I wish I had the skills but sadly I am definitely lacking! lol! voted up and shared, nell

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I have always had an interest and love of creating art and have had some success with marketing it. I also donate quite a bit of it to charities that I like to support. My education took me on another path however. This was interesting to see the average salaries for careers in fine art. Up votes and tweeting.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Good luck to your daughter, Faith.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Very helpful info for those considering a fine arts career. Interesting that the projections predict a good increase in employment opportunities.

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      An engaging hub! Fine arts is one of the most promising careers of today times and opportunities in this field are growing. The fine arts classes, degree-courses and tutorials are on the rise. I have heard that top and famous artists are paid handsomely. A well-written hub! Well-done!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up & socially shared

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Hard to believe cclitgirl, but that's what the government says.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      REALLY!?! Job growth for artists is GROWING!?! I'd better get back to my paintings and up the "ante" on my photography. :D Actually, this does inspire me because I've been thinking about tying my acrylic paintings in with my writing. I have on a few hubs, so far, but I might have to do more of it. :) Voted up and tweeted.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Great research! This would be an enjoyable profession. I would be afraid to work with authentic art after seeing the mishap where a painter recently made that big mistake and turned the character on the painting into Mr. Bill. This is a very helpful hub.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, I am printing this off for my daughter who graduated with a Fine Arts Degree, and has not used her degree for her profession yet! Great hub. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Another fascinating hub; I'm a bit surprised that the pay level is so high for fine arts. Thank you for the education.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Very interesting! I never pursued a fine art career because I didn't know if I'd be able to support myself on it. It seems the lower end pay scale makes more than I thought... not great by any means but not as bad. ^_^ voted up and interesting!