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Career: Artist

 
A Day in the life of a Artist

“If you’re lucky, you’ll spend most of your time alone and working,” wrote one 20-year veteran painter. The artist seeks to express a specific and unique vision through painting, sculpture, drawing, or mixed media. While many spend time in workshops, attending other artists’ shows and seminars, and doing research, the heart of the profession—the reason why people choose to join the very selective fine arts—is that they love what they do. Numerous artists use their specific set of marketable tools as freelance commercial artists, producing work on consignment to another’s specifications. Some note that this selling of their skills at times affects their ability to produce their own work. “It’s hard to paint my own pictures when I’m sketching a box of oats all day,” said one.

Paying Your Dues

History is filled with examples of self-schooled artists with no formal educational training. They are both brilliant and innovative; unfortunately, history is also filled with examples of starving artists who died in obscurity. Formal educational training in this field is becoming the norm, with most earning BFAs in graphic design, painting, or art history. Some find it helpful to continue their education and earn graduate degrees (primarily MFAs), particularly if they desire to teach painting at the secondary level or above. Many academic programs provide at least an introduction to computer-assisted art. Artists tend to congregate around major urban centers, such as New York and San Francisco, in which the multiplicity of galleries and artists makes it easier to form connections; this also offers the unproven artist the opportunity to have his or her work shown.

Associated Careers

Artists have a number of opportunities available to them, both during their careers as artists and after they’ve decided to hang up their brushes. Many work as commercial artists, computer artists, and electronic layout consultants using their aesthetic and representational skills in higher-paying professions. Some become art directors for magazines, online services, software companies, or publishing houses. Other artists move into advertising, promotion, and product design.


 
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