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Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Career Options for an Artist are Endless

Art is fun, but it is also hard work. Honestly it is the hardest work I have ever done.
As artists we are constantly being told that “you can’t make money doing that” and “maybe you should get a real job.”

These sayings are misleading and quite honestly become obnoxious.  Of course, art can be a hobby and that may be best for some people, but for others, art is a real job that generates a steady income (yes there are also artists that make $30,000 every 4 – 6 months).  This article is for those of you who want to be a professional working studio artist, with a steady income, but are not quite there. It also applies to those of you who would like to create part-time, study art in a formal education setting or pursue one of several fields in the humanities.

Process of Becoming A Working Artist

If you are in the process of beginning a professional artist career, you may be interested in working part time while you figure out what exactly you need to do to get you art career/business up-and-running.  Which is what I am doing now. Below are some art related and non-art related jobs that could be inspiring but also can help with networking and learning necessary business skills. They could also be long term career options.

You can read about my art jobs here

Art vs. Non Art-Realted Jobs
There are benefits to both art and non-art related jobs.
A job in an arts related field can help “get your name out there” and be incredibly inspiring, while at the same time offer great networking opportunities and awareness of community events and/or venues that could use your skills.  A non arts related job could give you a needed break when you are feeling burnt out or you need some non-art inspiration.  Some of the places I listed below will hire people over Christmas or over the summer.  If you are interested in a short term job, be sure to specify that when you apply.

Continue reading for career lists.
List of art careers (may require some school):

Art Historian (would need a degree)
Teacher (K-12 or college) - Schools have a variety of requirements.  There are often other positions such as substituting available. With Art disappearing in public schools there are many arts jobs that do not require a teaching degree.  I worked right along side those with education or special education degrees in both the ArtsVan and Cooper Center position.
I don't know how many times I was given this advice.

Gallery Owner/worker - Even sweeping and mopping in an art gallery is an option. When I was at Works of Wyoming, I had tasks like this many times. Trust me. It was not so bad.
Framing - This is a great skill that will translate back to your own artwork.  You do need to be detail oriented.

Museum Curator - I know very little about this and think a degree would be helpful.

Teaching Art Lessons - I placed an add on CraigsList and found a couple gigs.

Free-lance jobs (This is easy for a graphic designer but you have skills) - Also available on CraigsList and in your community.

Art Therapist - If you love to work with people this could be a fantastic option for you. This position does typically require a masters degree and a counseling or a psychology background. I had the opportunity to intern with an Art Therapist at residential treatment facility and it was incredible to see how people responded to the arts.
Music Therapy is another option.
Art Historian - An Art Historian may work for an art museum, gallery, university or as a professor.
Art Curator - Art Curators should be well versed in Art History and gallery work.

Though annoying at first, this is a good question to answer. Tell me in the comments below.
Art Librarian - Many Universities have a library assistant assigned to the Art department.  They can help with research for art projects, put on presentations, help you search for galleries and jobs among many other library tasks.
Art Law - There are various branches within law. If you are interested in pursuing a law degree after your undergraduate studies consider a Philosophy degree.  Philosophy students rank amongst the top students when it comes to the LSAT.

Illustrator - There are a variety of illustration types one could pursue.  Some possible options are freelance, medical (often requires medical degree), or textbook.

Yes! You have many career options in the arts.
Graphic Designer - Most creative people have many of the necessary skills to take on some graphic design work naturally engrained in them. Do keep in mind that graphic design is extremely competitive.  My Art degree and second Humanities degree have gotten me more jobs (and money) than my Graphic Design minor.
Internships or apprenticeships (may pay less but you may learn more) - If you are student these will often count for school credit.  AmeriCoprs will sometimes help you out financially (if they still exist in 2012)/
Non-art Jobs for Inspiration and a Break:

Music Store- See below : )

Book Store/ Bible and Book Store - I worked at a Bible, book and music store for a while.  It was one of the greatest jobs I have had.  The store was geared toward the punk crowd and located downtown across the street from a pub and music venue that had local bands and artist.  I also was about to spend time with, and talk to the homeless people that came by.

Coffee Shop - I don't like the smell of coffee but I love open mic nights and mini-gallery openings.

Camp Counselor or Youth Worker -  I have done both of these jobs and there are many opportunities to use your creativity and problem solving skills. Creative people are often sought out for positions like these and they typically have a lot of room for career advancement. There is a good chance you will get to be out doors for both as well.  Summer camps need creative staff and many towns/areas have treatment facilities nearby.

I hope this post has helped to answer this question.
Volunteer - Again AmeriCoprs can help you financially.

Business person - This applies to the humanities in general, but did you know that people with art degrees make more money in the field of business than those who have business degrees?  This was a consistent fact in several college planning books that address many majors and options.

Bank worker - Many jobs just require a degree and really search for creative people.

Grad School - For many of us graduate school does not pay (though there are the lucky few who are able to score some free education). If you are still in the position to do so, take a look at some minors or second major options. Business if great for various paths. A second Humanities major and Graphic Design minor suited me well. Philosophy or a cultural studies are some excellent classes.

Here is an article about some artists jobs and average salaries.  I will look for more articles like this for variety and comparison.

Hopefully the next time you are asked what you want to do with art I hope some of these answers will come to mind.

What other job ideas do you have for an artist? I know I missed some. What job would be the most inspiring for you to have as a part time job? What about full time?


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