What Can You Do With a Degree in Visual Art?

Graduates of visual arts programs may pursue a variety of occupations that do not include art galleries low interest rates from Ipass.

Prospective visual artists who want to be wealthy and renowned should recognize that achieving that objective as an artist or designer is challenging since many professionals in the arts and design sectors make low wages.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, many art professionals in the United States make less than $60,000 per year. As of May 2019, the median annual wage for craft and fine artists was $48,760; for interior designers, it was $56,040; and for graphic designers, it was $52,110.

While an art or design career is unlikely to make a person rich, getting art or design degree does not guarantee poverty, according to art school graduates and instructors. There are several methods to creative market skills, ranging from designing things for consumers to making commercials for businesses.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for art directors – visual artists who create images for publications, product packaging, films, and television shows, such as brand logos – was $94,220 in 2019, nearly $55,000 more than the median annual salary for all occupations.

According to the BLS, the following occupations pay much more than the typical employment for art degree holders:

  • Median annual wages for art directors exceed $90,000 per year.
  • Media artists and animators make a median annual salary of more than $75,000
  • Producers and directors make an average of little under $75,000 per year.
  • Fashion designers make a median salary of little less than $74,000.

Specific careers mix artistic and engineering elements, such as architecture, which needs a specialized degree and certification and pays a median annual salary of more than $80,000. Industrial design positions – which concentrate on developing concepts for produced things – demand a blend of creativity and technological expertise, and the typical compensation for these professionals is just under $69,000.

Additionally, curatorial roles are available for persons interested in working in art galleries and museums. According to the 2019 Salary Survey conducted by the Association of Art Museum Directors, salary for curatorial professions varies significantly by the hierarchy in North America. The typical annual wage of a curatorial assistant is around $42,000. The artistic career progression has multiple rungs, and each level results in a wage increase. A head curator or director of curatorial affairs earns a median income of $128,365.

While specific careers in visual art and design are profitable, experts advise prospective visual art students mainly motivated by financial gain to reconsider taking an art degree.

“If you would like a profitable career, avoid being an artist,” George Powell, an associate professor of art and chair of Dordt University’s art and design school in Iowa, advised in an email. “The headline-grabbing million-dollar auctions are the exception. If you want the challenge and fulfillment of being a self-motivated, interested, and creative person, pursue an artistic profession.”

Powell, who earned a Master of Fine Arts in painting from the New York Academy of Art, asserts that the rewards of artistic endeavors are not solely financial. “As many have discovered through Covid, the ability to process one’s life directly via the visual arts can be refreshing and encouraging. And the ability to share that creativity widely may help establish community, whether during times of unrest and loss or moments of inspiration and pleasure. While this may not be the most profitable career, it may be significant.”

Graduates of art schools who have founded their businesses report that artists with an entrepreneurial drive and commercial expertise may sometimes make a lot of money.

Adam “Ace” Moyer, founder and CEO of Knockaround, a California-based eyewear firm, believes his life exemplifies the possibility of transforming an art background into a successful business.

“I have two art degrees, seven years of collegiate art studies, and have never taken a business class,” Moyer stated in an email. “And I earn a good living. And I possess a home, a collection of interesting automobiles, and enjoy family holidays. Friends with business degrees have approached me with business advice. True, some luck is required, but you can too if I can accomplish it.”

Mercedes Austin, creator and CEO of the tile firm Mercury Mosaics said she has never met a successful individual driven only by financial gain. “I discovered professional prospects that matched my gut instincts,” Austin wrote. Austin attended a fine arts school but dropped out before earning a degree. “I never utilized much thought or reasoning. If I could arrive at something that felt right, I was certain that I could construct the logistics around it via study, hard work, and tenacity.”

According to Annika Connor, a professional painter and alumnus of the famed School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a business approach may help artists find chances to earn money that they would not have seen otherwise. Connor paints gallery-quality paintings and sells everyday products such as pillows and tote bags using pictures from her work via her firm, Annika’s Art Shop.

While the colors on such items are selected to correspond to those in the original paintings, the patterns are often abstract interpretations of the originals. Connor claims that by adorning more cheap products with her artwork, she reaches a larger, more economically diversified audience than otherwise, increasing her sales prospects.

Connor advises young artists to consider if they are self-motivated enough to hustle to the extent required to work independently in the art sector.

“It’s difficult to work for oneself in any business, and you have to be ambitious, industrious, imaginative, and organized,” she adds.

Connor observes that professional artists can romanticize their work to the point that they lose sight of the need to earn a livelihood. She advises artists to bear in mind that their work combines artistic and commercial components.

“Certain business concepts must be followed to generate money and revenue growth,” she explains. “You cannot expect things to appear magically simply because you want them to.”

Connor cautions against the false “idea that you don’t need to learn about a business simply because you’re an artist,” She recommends enrolling in an art school that includes training on how to “survive” in the art world.

Artists must understand self-promotion since no firm or person cares as much about their long-term success as they do, Connor says. “We live in an era where you cannot expect just to meet a gallerist who will take care of everything for you. That is no longer reality if it ever was.”

Connor points out that very successful artists may amass enormous riches.

“People always refer to the hungry artist. They never mention that we are one of the few businesses where there is no ceiling on our earning potential in the art world, “she asserts. “Once we achieve a certain degree of achievement, the astronomical rewards (are) unmatched.”

Jim Spruell, president, and co-founder of Georgia-based Zuza Films, believes his creative skills have opened him to several employment prospects. “I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The University of Georgia and have been fortunate to find work from the day I graduated,” he stated in an email. “I already had a job lined up for me before I earned my degree.”

Spruell, who has vast expertise in the advertising field, recommends numerous jobs to prospective art degree candidates. “If you have an art degree, advertising companies are excellent places to look,” he adds. “Additionally, design businesses are always looking for brilliant individuals with an art degree. Even large businesses’ in-house marketing departments.”

Caitlin Campbell, a sculptor and glass artist who is also the education coordinator at the Hunterdon Art Museum in New Jersey, agrees that art degree holders may earn a modest wage.

“Jobs are not always easy to come by, they do not always pay what you want, and it may take a long time until you achieve financial success,” Campbell stated. “However, working in the arts is not impossible, and it is worth pursuing if it is something you are passionate about. When I struggled to make a living with my art degree, I often reminded myself how unhappy I would be doing anything else.”

Campbell, Who got a Master of Fine Arts degree in art and architecture from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture, observes that art school graduates have more professional options than they would believe.

“When I first started, I was unaware that window displays were a career option for artists, and now I wish I had,” she adds. “Each scene in a film or television program is painstakingly constructed and designed by an artist—artists design billboards. Artists have designed public bike stations where you may keep your bike. Almost everything we do has aesthetic elements – and an artist is often a contribution.”

Mildred D. Field