Artist Jobs | Craft Artist Jobs | Fine Arts Jobs
What Craft Artists and Fine Artists Do?
Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition. Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition. Craft artists create objects such as pottery, glassware, or textiles that are designed to be functional. Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create original works of art for their aesthetic value, rather than for a functional one.
Craft Artist and Fine Artist Duties
Craft and fine artists typically do the following:
Artists create objects that are beautiful, thought-provoking, and sometimes shocking. They often strive to communicate ideas or feelings through their art.
Craft artists work with many different materials, including ceramics, glass, textiles, wood, metal, and paper, to create unique pieces of art, such as pottery, quilts, stained glass, furniture, jewelry, and clothing. Many craft artists also use fine-art techniques—for example, painting, sketching, and printing—to add finishing touches to their products.
Fine artists typically display their work in museums, commercial or non-profit art galleries, corporate collections, on the Internet, and in private homes. Some of their artwork may be commissioned (requested by a client), but most is sold by the artist or through private art galleries or dealers. The gallery and the artist decide in advance how much of the sale proceeds each will keep.
Most craft and fine artists spend their time and effort selling their artwork to potential customers and building a reputation. However, only the most successful artists are able to support themselves solely through the sale of their works. Many artists have at least one other job to support their craft or art careers.
Some artists work in museums or art galleries. Others teach craft or art classes or conduct workshops in schools or in their own studios.
Craft and fine artists specialize in one or more types of art. The following are examples of types of craft and fine artists:
Craft and fine artists held about 51,400 jobs in 2012. About half of craft and fine artists are self-employed; others are employed in various private sector industries or in government.
Craft artists, for example, might work for companies that manufacture glass or clay products, or for museums, historical sites, or similar institutions. Fine artists are often employed by newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers. They also are employed by colleges and universities. Other types of artists and related workers work for the federal government, motion picture and video production companies, and advertising and public relations firms.
Many artists work in fine art or commercial art studios located in office buildings, warehouses, or lofts. Others work in private studios in their homes. Some artists share studio space, where they also may exhibit their work.
Studios are usually well-lighted and ventilated. However, artists may be exposed to fumes from glue, paint, ink, and other materials. They may also have to deal with dust or other residue from filings, splattered paint, or spilled cleaners and other fluids.
Part-time and variable work schedules are common for artists. Many hold another job, in addition to their work as an artist. During busy periods, artists may work overtime to meet deadlines. Self-employed artists can set their own hours.
Formal schooling is not required for craft and fine artists. However, many artists take classes or earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fine arts, which can improve their skills and job prospects.
Artist Education Requirements
Formal schooling beyond a high school diploma is rarely required for craft and fine artists. However, it is difficult to gain adequate artistic skills, without some formal education in the fine arts.
Most craft and fine artists have at least a high
school diploma. High school classes like art, shop, and
home economics can teach prospective artists some of the
basic skills they will need, such as drawing,
woodworking, or sewing.
Many artists pursue postsecondary education and take classes or earn degrees that can improve their skills and job prospects. Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts. In addition to studio art and art history, programs may include core subjects, such as English, social science, and natural science.
Independent schools of art and design also offer postsecondary training, which can lead to a certificate in an art-related specialty or to an associate’s, bachelor's, or master’s degree in fine arts.
In 2013, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accredited approximately 330 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design. Most of these schools award a degree in art.
Medical illustrators must have a demonstrated artistic ability and a detailed knowledge of human and animal anatomy, living organisms, and surgical and medical procedures. They usually need a bachelor's degree combining art and premedical courses. Most medical illustrators, however, choose to get a master's degree in medical illustration. Four accredited schools offer this degree in the United States.
Education gives artists an opportunity to develop their portfolio, which is a collection of an artist’s work that demonstrates his or her styles and abilities. Portfolios are essential, because art directors, clients, and others look at them when deciding whether to hire the artist or to buy their work.
Those who want to teach fine arts at public elementary or secondary schools usually must have a teaching certificate in addition to a bachelor's degree. Advanced degrees in fine arts or arts administration are usually necessary for management or administrative positions in government, management positions in private foundations, and teaching positions in colleges and universities.
Craft and fine artists improve their skills through practice and repetition. They can train in several ways other than—or in addition to—formal schooling. Craft and fine artists can train with simpler projects before attempting something more ambitious.
Some craft and fine artists learn on the job from more experienced artists. Others attend noncredit classes or workshops or take private lessons, which may be offered in artists’ studios or at community colleges, art centers, galleries, museums, or other art-related institutions.
Still other craft and fine artists work closely with another artist on either a formal or informal basis. Formal arrangements may include internships or apprenticeship programs. Artists hired by firms often start with relatively routine work. While doing this work, however, they may observe other artists and practice their own skills.
Craft and fine artists advance professionally as
their work circulates and as they establish a reputation
for their particular style. Many of the most successful
artists continually develop new ideas, and their work
often evolves over time.
Many artists do freelance work while continuing to hold a full-time job until they are established as professional artists. Others freelance part time while still in school, to develop experience and to build a portfolio of published work.
Freelance artists try to develop a set of clients who regularly contract for work. Some freelance artists are widely recognized for their skill in specialties like cartooning or children's book illustrations. These artists may earn high incomes and can choose the type of work they do.
The median annual wage for craft and fine artists was $44,380 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,200, and the top 10 percent earned more than $93,220.
The median annual wages for craft and fine artist occupations in May 2012 were as follows:
Earnings for self-employed artists vary widely. Some charge only a nominal fee, while they gain experience and build a reputation for their work. Others, such as well-established freelance fine artists and illustrators, can earn more than salaried artists. Many, however, find it difficult to rely solely on income earned from selling paintings or other works of art. Part-time and variable work schedules are common for artists. Many also hold another job, in addition to their work as an artist. During busy periods, artists may work overtime to meet deadlines. Self-employed artists can set their own hours.
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