What it Means to Be an Artist
For the case of this course, an art career involves producing visual work, rather than music, literature, etc. The methods and work environments of artists vary widely. Some work alone in studios while others work in large corporate offices. Some spend their day working with paints and canvases while others work with people (e.g. as photographers) or code (as web designers and developers). Some earn regular paychecks while others depend on one or two high margin sales to support themselves for an entire year.
There are two primary types of artists: fine artists and applied artists (many professionals practice a mix of both).
Characteristics of Fine Artists
- Create work intended for beauty or intellectual stimulation rather than utility
- Primarily earn an income through the sale of prints and original work
- Primarily earn income from fans of the arts
Characteristics of Applied Artists
- Create work that serves a purpose or has a practical function
- Primarily earn an income through work done for clients
- Primarily earn income from businesses and individuals in the midst of working on a larger project
This course addresses both career paths.
The Perks of Becoming an Artist
The perks associated with becoming an artist include:
- Many self employment options
- Highly engaging, challenging work
- The ability to earn in income from highly creative work
- The ability to create concrete work that others see and interact with
- Options for those who prefer working alone as well as those who prefer collaborative environments
- The opportunity to constantly grow and improve rather than complete the same wrote task over and over
- Work driven by passion rather than a desire to simply pay the bills (given that one should never become an artist assuming income levels will be high)
Major Myths Associated with Art and Design
Common misconceptions about artistic careers include beliefs that:
- Being an artist is fun, easy, and self-indulgent (in fact, one has to make many sacrifices and work incredibly hard to make it as an artist)
- Artistic talent = success (without serious professional skills, budgeting savvy, or marketing ability, an artist is not at all likely to succeed)
- Artists can get by with eccentric personalities and terrible people skills (in fact, applied artists have to have particularly acute communication skills to adequately serve clients who frequently do not know to express what they want and need)
- One needs a degree to succeed in the field (or that a degree will guarantee employment)
- It is feasible to work full time as an artist (many, many artists have to maintain another job through which they earn a more steady income)
- Demand for artists and designers is high, therefore it is easy to get a job (it is actually very difficult to get a job without a robust portfolios, and most artists we have interviewed get work through referrals, which require an existing and satisfied client base)
Major Trends in Art and Design
Growth in Job Opportunities
Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Endowment for the Arts found that job opportunities for artists are likely to grow by 11% by 2018. Prospects look especially good for architects, landscape architects, and interior designers (and poor for floral and fashion designers). A surge in demand for illustrators, animators, and multimedia artists is also expected (should you be interested in learning more about animation trends specifically, stop by Animation Career Review).
High Demand for Computer-Based Skills
Of the professionals we interviewed, those whose work was in the highest demand tended to be able to code have advanced digital painting and 3D modeling skills. A professional advantage enjoyed by those who can do web design and digital work is the ability to reach and work for clients all around the world.
3D modeling and digital painting skills are in constant demand from the thriving and expanding video game industry. Web designers with additional coding skills have the added advantage of producing work that is in constant demand due to companies' evolving online needs and the speed with which older web design becomes a liability.
More Online Sales Channels
Artists have more options when it comes to selling their art online than ever before. In addition to a growing number of online sales platforms (covered later in this course) dedicated exclusively to fine art, there exists a wide range of online storefront options that enable artists to do everything from sell custom-made products they make and ship themselves to simply upload designs and have merchandise produced and shipped on demand from remote facilities.
The growth and growing utility of online sales channels is allowing both fine and applied artists to build up additional (but significant) income streams that increase stability and reduce financial risk.
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Finally, make sure you have reviewed this lesson’s required reading (displayed at the top right of the page) before taking the quiz- you will be tested on information covered in those guides!