Arts and design careers serve different roles in industries like entertainment, graphic and visual design, music, broadcasting, filmmaking, and writing. Though the faces of these industries are usually celebrities, there are many other jobs that the industries rely on. Publishing companies, record labels, studios, and similar organizations play a large role in both providing job opportunities and shaping the future of the industries themselves. Art career paths can vary from person to person but creativity nearly always plays a part.
Talent, practice, and skill all play a large role in arts and design careers. Though many of the skills in these fields can be self-taught and refined with practice, many of the highest paying or more prestigious careers are found with companies looking for individuals with degrees. These fields are also highly competitive, where only the best make it big.
Depending on what job you pursue, your art career path can go in different directions. Some higher paying jobs may require a college degree, but other specialized careers, especially the technical ones, might only require a certificate or experience in the field. A sound engineer technician, for example, might need only a certificate from a community college.
Technical or behind-the-scenes arts and design careers can be just as creative as some of the artists they support. TV producers, cinematographers, sound engineers, editors, models, agents, jewelers, and flower arrangers are just a few examples of arts and design careers require creative solutions to unique problems and tasks.
Practice brings out the best artists in any field, but none more so than in arts and design careers. Large-scale projects, either as an employee or through your own self-motivation, can be excellent ways to grow your skill, learn new methods, and provide even more samples for your portfolio. Though it can be humbling, find a way to connect with other artists in your field that can give quality feedback about what works and what doesn’t. Taking your samples to a community workshop and sharing files with other experts when available can help you see your work from new perspectives and prompt more growth. Consider enrolling in local art classes or attending a school like KaosPilot, a design school in Denmark, or The Curtis Institute of Music, a tuition-free college in Pennsylvania. For more information about affording school or finding non-traditional programs for an artist career path, check out our page on Non-Traditional and Affordable College Paths.
Almost every employer you work for will want samples of your work. Keeping them in a folder, digital or otherwise, will be important so you can find and display them easily. Many artists have personal websites where they display their work, or samples of it. You can build websites for online portfolios fairly easily with a platform like Squarespace or WordPress.
Unfortunately, the internet is both the best resource and the worst problem facing individuals in Arts and Design. There are many websites that publish popular artwork or content without compensating or even receiving consent from the creator. Using watermarks on images, releasing only short samples of music, or embedding your name on your work can help prevent your work from being stolen.
When you take on a new job, make sure you understand the fine print. Sometimes, working for an organization might limit your work ownership and mobility after you leave the company. For example, one exploitive practice in the music industry is for large record companies to sign different artists to their label with no intention of supporting their career. The artists’ contract becomes a restriction from success, rather than a pathway to it, because the labels sign an artist to primarily prevent them from going to another label. Then, artists are kept on the backburner while their attention is given to pre-established successes. If a company employs you to create for them, make sure you understand what you’ll be creating, who owns the creations, and what you’ll be allowed to do outside of the organization.
Artists, musicians, and other creative professionals looking to profit off of their creative work need platforms to share their work on. Building an online presence and a fanbase can lead to more opportunities later on. Social media followers can become your highest paying customers someday if you find the right crowd. In addition to the standard social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram) other sites like Tumblr, Pixiv, Soundcloud, and Flickr can be used to share your work. Managing these platforms can be difficult, but using a social media manager, such as Hootsuite or Buffer can help you keep track of what and when to post. Many sites have particular demographics, so find the one that matches your style the most. In addition to sharing works, artists can use other platforms like Twitch or YouTube to demonstrate their process or teach others.
Every creator is familiar with rejection. Poets, authors, photographers–anyone who submits work for publication has been rejected at some point. Refine your work as it gets returned to you and submit it again after revisions. If you’re looking to submit your work somewhere, DuoTrope is a useful search engine that gathers information about available markets and open submissions. Find journals or magazines that are looking for your style of content and submit.
Online Course Design
Audio-Visual (AV) Technology
Broadcasting and Communication
DuoTrope – Submission and Market Search Engine for Writers, Poets, and Artists
CareersInMusic.com – Resources for all roles in the music industry
GIMP – Open-source image editing software (I.E. Free Photoshop)
Audacity – Open-source music software
Coursera’s Music Production Course – Offered by Berklee School of Music
Bandcamp – Music distribution platform