Careers in the Visual Arts

The information provided below is taken from A Career Guide for Studio Art Majors provided by the University of Texas at Austin. To read the entire article, click here.


Visual artists generally fall into one of two broad categories: designers or fine artists. Designers put their artistic skills to use in the service of commercial clients such as corporations, retail stores, and advertising, design, or publishing firms. Fine artists create art to satisfy their need for self-expression, and may display their work in galleries, museums, and homes. Often, they specialize in one or more forms of art such as painting, sculpting, printmaking, or photography.




Specific skills developed by artists depend to some degree on their creative interests. However, many of the skills learned are transferable to a variety of sectors and jobs. For example, understanding formal elements such as color, line, and space is important for an art teacher, museum curator, display designer, or independent artist.

TechnicalCommunicationArtisticProblem Solving
Knowing the qualities and limitations of each medium Communicating visually Seeing, drawing, and understanding form Taking multiple approaches to problems
Working with a variety of media Criticizing, evaluating, and explaining works of art Relating abstract ideas and visual forms Utilizing available Resources
Attaining a high level of craftsmanship Collaborating with others Mastering the use of color, space, and line Work under pressure and meet deadlines
Good finger and manual dexterity Interpreting data or verbal instructions to produce art work Utilizing theories of composition Adapting techniques
Working independently Presenting and displaying work Thinking creatively  
    Visualizing shapes and spatial relationships  



Job Titles

These job titles are examples of some of the ways in which Art majors have applied their skills and abilities. In general, an advanced degree is required for those occupations marked with a * on the following list:

Billboard artist/sign painter *Art therapist *Historical preservation coordinator
Gallery owner/operator Community arts center director Photographer
Artist-in-residence Greeting card artist Art appraiser
Museum publications director Auctioneer Art critic/reporter
Cartoonist Museum education coordinator Exhibit designer
Web-page designer *Conservator/restorer Scenic artist (film/theatre)
Art teacher *Medical illustrator Corporate art consultant
Arts fundraiser Visual merchandiser Mural artist
Book/CD cover designer Grants specialist Arts & humanities council director
Art director *Museum curator Printmaker
*Art librarian *Museum curator *Arts lawyer
Arts council director Police/courtroom artist  
Illustrator Layout artist  
Picture framer Audio-visual specialist  



Employers of Art Majors

Advertising agencies Publishing companies Recreation departments
Colleges and universities Museums Corporate communication departments
Sign shops Textile industry Photo agencies
Art galleries Amusement parks Camps
Libraries Retail stores Restoration firms
Art supply stores Schools Media production companies
Public relations firms Film industry  
Magazines and newspapers Greeting card companies  
Printing firms Auction houses  

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