Where to start when you want to get into a visual arts career
Are you looking for ways to jumpstart your career in the arts? Well, one thing is for sure – it doesn’t happen overnight. Becoming an artist requires perseverance, hard work, passion and a plan. Unfortunately, most people looking to pave the path for an art career seem to be at a loss on how to proceed – or even start, for that matter.
Developing one’s skills, attracting clients, and converting them into a consistent and healthy lifestyle is difficult, but certainly possible. Various art job opportunities are available, ranging from painting, illustration to graphic design and art curators. It all depends on one’s skills, talents and the specific artistic industry one wants to participate in.
Increasing demand for visual artists
Thanks to the contemporary digital world’s endless demand for engaging visual media, having a Visual Arts degree can help one to land a job in many companies worldwide. Employment for multimedia artists and animators is expected to rise to 4% in 2019–2029, as provided by data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. It shows that digital technology alone is already showing a promising future for artists, in both the traditional and digital sense.
Even if one is not interested in working for multimedia companies or doesn’t fancy working in a video game, mobile app or advertising agency, one can still find other job positions available with tech giants or commercial corporations.
If one is the kind of artist whose end goal is to sell art pieces, don’t lose heart – because one’s dream can also become a reality. Having a major in visual arts can give one a plethora of skills that may lead to many job roles even in industries like museums, journalism and fashion design.
Although the demand for artists is increasing, one should always maintain a competitive spirit, because just like any individual, many other artists are waiting to land their dream jobs.
Jumpstart a career in art
If one has finally finished a bachelor’s degree in visual arts – what’s next? How should one plan to seek out their first job after college? Read on to learn where to start if one wants to land a career related to the arts.
Choose and plan a career path
First and foremost, one must prepare a road map with specific paths and, when one reaches a crossroads, decide which directions to take ahead of time. As one already knows, there are numerous job positions available for creative visual arts graduates. Deciding on one’s goals upfront will save time and energy from overthinking, getting confused and being swayed by other influences and factors. Once one has finalised a plan, stick to it through and through.
Deciding on a goal will mean one has to choose between two kinds of art: traditional or physical arts, or digital art. The individual must consider which path they would love to pursue and which they are more passionate about. The following points may help one reach a decision faster.
- Traditional arts or physical art
This career path will enable one to exhibit art pieces and display them in galleries, museums and art exhibitions. Suppose one wants to become a ceramic artist, like Monika Diamantopoulou, or a painter like Leonardo da Vinci. In that case, this is the kind of art that one needs to focus on and grow their talents in. Being a successful artist requires both artistic skills and business skills in order to make their art pieces profitable and desirable by their target market.
- Multimedia art
If one wants to pursue a digital media career while using platforms like television, movies, video games and the internet, then landing a job as a digital artist could be perfect. However, aside from one’s talent in art and creativity, having a multimedia job also requires expertise in using computer programs and software.
Be an intern
Being an intern in a company can open many doors for one to build a career in visual arts. The majority of the visual arts students agreed that their internship has helped them find employment right after graduation. Many companies that accept interns are open to employing and absorbing them as future employees in the company, considering that they embody the skill set required for their jobs.
In a worst-case scenario where one’s internship doesn’t result in employment, one is still not losing out too much because they have acquired experiences and on-the-job training from a sustainable company. Their valuable experience will contribute to how they will be as a real employee in a different company. Being exposed to the corporate world and working in a professional atmosphere showcases a lifetime-worthy kind of experience.
If one is not ready to commit to any employment in an individual company, one might consider freelancing. It is a smart option if one wants to start a career in the visual arts industry. Just as being employed in a company provides career growth and learnings, the same is true for freelancing. The only difference is that one will get the liberty of deciding what or how many projects to accept as a freelancer. One may or may not have a definite office, and the individual will determine their own working hours.
One can do freelancing even while still in college – in fact, one can beef up their resume with freelance projects and contracts with clients. Being a freelancer also provides one with a broader network to connect and communicate with people from various companies and industries.
The only downside for this work option is the pay because it isn’t as steady as being a regular employee. However, it’s a great start to jumpstart a career as a fresh graduate. One chooses this option to gain more professional experience, broaden their network and advance their skills more and more. Earning on the side while freelancing is more rewarding when one sets their mindset positively.
Invest in a portfolio
This is somewhat the next step right after freelancing, as one will be able to create a portfolio out of the freelance projects they’ve worked on. Having a fantastic portfolio will attract more clients, as well as the future employer of one’s dream job.
Having samples in a portfolio is part of building a professional foundation. It is where an aspiring creative can convey their vision as an artist and show people a glimpse of what they are capable of.
Internship projects, freelancing tasks and even school projects should all be included in one’s portfolio because they will contribute to one’s identity as an artist. One’s visual aesthetic and growth as an artist will be understood clearly through these works from when they were a student until they accepted freelance projects.
Although the digital portfolio is commonplace nowadays, the essence of the hard copy portfolio remains unchanged. It is a delight for future employers to feel the textures, vibrancy and life that exudes from a physical portfolio. As one gets job interviews, keep in mind that the explanation about the works is equally as important as the projects themselves. One should make sure to incorporate their style and match it with the vision of the company they’re applying for.
Expand a network
One should go out there and make themself known. Marketing doesn’t only apply to companies, products and businesses. It also applies to personal image and building credibility through it. If one wants to earn a living as an artist, then they should expand their connections gradually. While it can be pretty tough establishing a name as a beginner, hang in there – one will establish their name soon enough.
Take advantage of many events and join communities that are relevant to one’s career. Here are more ways to engage actively in marketing:
- Join art competitions
Art competitions are always a great way to maximise one’s exposure as an artist. It doesn’t matter whether one wins or loses – the real purpose of such an event is to show off one’s work and get together with art lovers, potential buyers and fellow artists. By engaging in competitions, one puts themself out there to display their artwork and talent for the art industry.
If one wants to compete, they should start with local competitions and ease their way through more art contests in the future. It is better to participate in specific competitions that share their same style. Art shows typically have a theme like modern art, photography, sculpture, paintings, traditional art and more, so one should choose contests relevant to their talents.
- Sell art pieces in shows and fairs
Aside from competitions, one should check out some local events around their city and neighborhood. Chances are they might be holding fairs, craft shows and local markets. These are great opportunities for an aspiring artist to take part in. If one is a crafty artist, they can sell their art pieces to local buyers, tourists and art lovers. These regional events are usually crowded with many people who don’t mind spending extra money.
If one plans to join these shows and fairs, one will have to pay for the rental fee of the booth or stall and possibly pay royalties to the event organiser. When preparing for the booth, try to make the table presentable by displaying one’s best work, and put out signages or names of the product. This will not only attract more buyers but will also give them helpful information about the works. Lastly, since one is there to sell, wear a winning smile and be approachable. It’s the best time to meet art fanatics and collectors, and being friendly with them might lead to a sale.
- Participate in galleries
Don’t be too intimidated to participate in galleries. If one is already part of the local art community, one can build more connections by plugging their artwork in a gallery. This will build their reputation and credibility with art enthusiasts in the area. Bring a portfolio and business cards to these events to encourage possible job opportunities and projects.
One should collaborate with galleries that cater to the same kinds of art pieces as theirs. Communicate and build a professional relationship with the curators so that one can collaborate together from time to time. Visitors of a gallery are usually diverse, and one never knows when a big-time client will approach to hire.
- Utilise marketing collaterals
Marketing oneself means they must invest in marketing tools and sources such as business cards, posters, postcards and name tags, if necessary. High-quality marketing materials will leave a great first impression on the people one meets with, so make a careful choice when making a personalised design.
Double-check for any grammatical and information errors. Consider the colour and make sure it’s neat and elegant. Include all contact information like website, email address and phone number so that prospective clients can conveniently contact you.
- Get to know the local art circle
Art communities usually consist of different variety of art groups and circles. Besides joining the community, one should get to know a specific circle they want to be a member of. This will allow them to form friendships with new people from the same neighbourhood. However, before choosing a particular team, one should inquire about their level of activities and events so they can compare and estimate if it is something they see themselves committing to.
One should become an active member in the circle that they chose. Being passive will defeat the purpose of joining a circle in the first place. Having a closer relationship with these fellow artists will help one in the long run, so participate and have fun together.
Take advantage of all the opportunities that will help establish one’s name and image as an artist. Nothing will prepare an aspiring artist for spontaneous challenges and rewards, just go with the flow and absorb all these valuable experiences. It will help hone the creative to become a stronger person who can touch and inspire others too. An art career might not be a walk in the park, but it will be fulfilling as long as you hang on to your determination and vision.
The editorial unit