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What are the Different Art Careers?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 17, 2024
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The art world provides an enormous field of career and job opportunities. Whether fine art, photography, mixed media, or film design is a person's passion, he or she is likely to find a career that is related in some way. Working with art is a dream come true for many, who love the idea of paying the rent by supporting their passion.

The most obvious way to center a career around art is to become an artist. Yet while that works perfectly well as a hobby and side project, finding paid work as a freelance artist of any variety may be difficult. Art careers do exist in great numbers; it's simply a matter of narrowing them down. Cartoonists can work for newspapers and magazines, but may also find satisfaction in the animation world, working for studios like Disney or Pixar. Many photographers choose to work as photojournalists or event photographers, allowing themselves a flexible schedule that leaves plenty of time for their own work.

For those who love the subject but do not want to work as an artists, there are still many different art careers. Art historians work closely with museums and private collectors, researching the history of artists and artwork. People drawn toward art careers that deal with historical work can also find many careers at museums. Art curators at museums are often in charge of designing exhibits and procuring new artwork to show to the public.

Another major area of art careers involves teaching. People with art backgrounds may greatly enjoy imparting their love of art to students of all ages, as well as nurturing any talent that comes in the door. Art teachers work with many different people, from kindergartners or special needs children to community college classes filled with adults of every age.

Teaching in a classroom setting is certainly not the only way a person could benefit others through a career in art. Art therapists typically hold licensees to practice mental health professions as well as art qualifications. In this therapeutic treatment, patients work to explain their feelings and problems through artwork, under the guidance of a professional. Through discussion of the drawings or paintings, an art therapist can help clients reach insight about their own emotions.

Many, though not all, art careers require a college degree of some kind. To teach past the high school level, most colleges and universities require a Master's degree in a related subject, as well as a Bachelor's degree and teaching certificate. For museum careers, a four-year degree in art history may be sufficient for many positions, though at larger or more prestigious institutions, more degrees may be helpful. Freelance artists do not usually need degrees, though a Bachelor's degree may allow them to fall back on teaching or other related careers should they need a change of pace or a more regular paycheck.

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Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGeek. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By bythewell — On Jul 04, 2014

@MrsPramm - People should make the career they want, but I think it's too easy to dismiss art related careers that aren't actually about making and selling art.

People want to be recognized, but that shouldn't be the end goal. The end goal should always be making the best art you can, or else you end up just pandering to the masses. And you can make the best art while teaching or curating or even working in a job that isn't related to art.

Even art isn't always going to seem like "art". It's usually a very long process and involves a lot of networking and publicity and various physical tasks that might not seem creative at all. It's not all about splashing paint around or smoothing out clay sculptures.

By MrsPramm — On Jul 04, 2014

@Mor - I think the lottery metaphor can be useful, but you've got to see every moment you work on your art as another ticket purchased. In other words, yes, to some extent success is based on luck, but if you work very hard you can increase your odds dramatically.

Art based careers are nowhere near as difficult to carve out these days as they used to be, because anyone can sell their work online. If your work is excellent at least you don't have to worry about never being in a position to be noticed. You can enter competitions and put your work up online from anywhere in the world.

By Mor — On Jul 03, 2014

If you want to be an artist and there is nothing else that you would be happy doing, you are going to have to get used to the idea that you may not ever become well off. Fine art careers are few and far between and most artists end up making their money from teaching or curating or some other kind of related job. They might even just keep art as a hobby.

And there's nothing wrong with that. But there is something wrong with someone thinking they have failed in life because they never managed to make a living from art alone. Being able to do that is like winning the lottery. Lots of people do it, but the odds are not in your favor and a lot of luck is involved.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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