You need experience to get a job and you need a job to get experience. This issue has long been a struggle for new job seekers and is also very true for those seeking art work experience. One of the best ways to prove yourself and get some art work experience is by performing or exhibiting your art on a regular basis, even if you are not hired or paid to do so. By donating to charity, creating gifts that people will talk about, or bartering your skills, you can get your work out there for others to see. You can also take photos of these works to start building a portfolio.
This is not to say that you should simply work for free for just anyone. It is important to not let people take advantage of you. Engaging in an internship, donating items, or giving gifts are very useful tools for gaining art work experience and are very different than simply working for free. Unfortunately, many artists who hope to get their names noticed end up being taken advantage of by companies that should be paying them. This hurts the entire industry.
There are many people out there willing to work for free with the hope of gaining exposure. Keep in mind that if a company is large enough to give you the level of exposure that will actually benefit you, it should be sound enough to pay you at least a small stipend for your time and effort. In some cases, you might be asked to work for free or for little pay while gaining art work experience, with promises of higher paying work in the future. There is nothing wrong with considering such an arrangement, as long as those promises are in writing.
Engaging in freelance work is also a good way to get art work experience. There are a number of magazines and websites that seek out and pay freelancers for various projects. You can add these projects to your portfolio as well. As with many other types of jobs, be aware that there are numerous scams out there. It may take a good deal of research to find a small number of legitimate opportunities.
It is also a good idea to begin building a solid address book as soon as possible. Anyone you work with can later become an important contact. It is also a good idea to collect letters of reference as you gain art work experience. Be confident. Don’t shy away from asking for letters of reference from people who know you do quality work.