Career Development

Artist Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Artists create or perform works of art in various forms. Their work may be based in a particular medium, such as painting or sculpture, or it may be more eclectic, drawing from several different disciplines.

Artists create or perform works of art in various forms. Their work may be based in a particular medium, such as painting or sculpture, or it may be more eclectic, drawing from several different disciplines.

Many artists work on commissions, and some sell their work to art galleries. Some artists may be self-employed, while others are hired by companies to create artwork for advertisements or other purposes. Artists who work in advertising may be employed by a specific company or agency, or they may be independent contractors.

Artist Job Duties

The artist’s job is to create something that will resonate with an audience. This can be done in a variety of ways, including:

  • Creating original works of art that communicate the client’s vision or support the project objectives
  • Creating sketches and plans to establish perspective and proportion
  • Meeting with supervisors regarding design choices and edits to ensure that the work meets specifications
  • Purchasing or commissioning supplies that will be used in the artwork and overseeing their preparation
  • Using various tools such as brushes to create the artwork
  • Managing relationships with clients by developing long-term relationships built on trust and mutual respect

Artists often have to find their own way of doing things. They don’t always work from a specific set of instructions.

Artist Salary & Outlook

As an artist, you can expect a median annual wage of $49,120. The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that the highest-paid artists, those at the top 10% of the field, earn over $112,930 per year.

The Bureau of Labour Statistics projects that the number of these jobs will not change much between 2019-2029. However, the art industry has a high turnover rate—over 40% in the U.S. and Canada—so even a small amount of job growth can result in a large number of new positions.

Job growth for artists is expected to be greatest in the movie industry, where a number of jobs could be created for artists as a result of the growing demand for animated films.

Artist Job Requirements

Artist positions typically have the following requirements:

Education: No formal education is required to be an artist, but many art schools offer a wide range of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Experience: Artists usually need to have several years of experience before they can create art full-time.

Certification: Certification is not required to be an artist, but some artists seek certification to distinguish themselves from others in their field.

Artist Skills

Artists need a variety of other “soft skills” to help them succeed:

Creativity: This is the most important skill for an artist. They must be able to come up with new ideas, but also execute them in a way that is effective.

Perseverance: Artists must have the ability to work long hours on a project without getting discouraged.

Physical stamina: The job requires long hours of standing or sitting at an easel or drawing board, as well as walking around studios looking for inspiration for their next piece of artwork.

Self-motivation: It’s important for artists to be self-motivated because they often don’t have someone telling them what to do or when to do it.

People skills: An artist needs excellent people skills because they are often working with clients or coworkers on projects that require collaboration and cooperation.

Artist Work Environment

Artists work in a variety of settings, including their own studio, a school, or a business. Artists may also travel to work in a variety of locations. An artist may work with a variety of people and materials depending on the type of art they create.

The career of an artist is often considered a stressful one. The artist may work long hours in a studio and is often judged on their work by many people. Artists are also vulnerable to injuries from working with materials.

Artist Career Advancement

An artist’s work is based on inspiration, so it’s important to remain open-minded and ready to experiment. To advance in this career, you should continue to learn about new art styles and techniques, attend workshops and lectures, and collaborate with other artists.

Artist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how Artists work. Artists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

More Focus on Craftsmanship

Many craftspeople today find themselves competing with products manufactured abroad; these individuals must focus on polishing their product’s quality so that they can compete for customers based on superior workmanship rather than price alone. For example, many people buy handmade jewelry from small shops because they appreciate its handcrafted quality which cannot be replicated by mass production methods found overseas; this trend will continue as customers seek out unique goods made locally or by hand in order to support local communities and also get something one-of-a-kind.

Building Unique Brands

Increasingly, artists are looking for ways that they can build unique brands by developing clear design principles that emphasize their style and voice (such as a signature font or color palette). This trend is driven largely by the rise of online art markets like Etsy, where artists often need to distinguish themselves from competitors with logos and brand identities that will help them stand out from other sellers.

Increasing Number of Artists in Schools

As schools across the country have begun to recognize the importance of art education and incorporate it into their curriculums, more artists will be needed to teach and inspire a new generation of students—even at a time when arts funding is scarce. This trend is likely to accelerate in years ahead as more schools recognize the value that high-quality arts education has on developing creativity, problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and collaborative abilities.

How to Become a Artist

1. Planning Your Career Path

If you’re thinking about a career as an artist, it’s important to develop an individualized plan for how you will achieve your goals.

As you search for a job, don’t just look at the work of other artists; look at the life they’ve created for themselves. What did they do to get to where they are today? How did they build their reputation? How did they earn the respect of their peers? It’s important to have a vision for your career, but even more important to know how you will achieve it.

2. Writing a Resume

If you are an artist, your resume should demonstrate your creativity and originality. The best resumes for artists emphasize this by using a combination of text and images. They can also include links to websites or portfolios that show off the work in question.

In addition to including images, it’s important that you describe your work in detail. The more descriptive you are, the better. For example, instead of just saying that you create murals, you can say that you use bright colors and whimsical designs to create memorable pieces.

3. Applying for Jobs

There are many different types of artists out there. Whether you’re an aspiring sculptor, a songwriter, or a painter, don’t limit yourself when it comes to looking for jobs. To start, we recommend building your portfolio and becoming active in the art community; look for job openings in museums, galleries, or other art-related organizations. You can also reach out to employers directly if you know of people who already work there or perhaps attend events in your area to meet those who may not be looking for someone quite yet but could use some new talent down the line. 

The next step is submitting your portfolio — often there will be an area on the application form where you can include a link to a site with samples of your work. Remember that most applications will require that you write about your artistic style and previous accomplishments as well.

4. Ace the Interview

In order to nail an interview as an artist candidate, you’ll want to think about what kind of style you create. Think about what styles are popular in the art world right now and consider whether or not you can incorporate that into your own work.

During the interview, make sure you dress professionally. Also, know a little bit about current artists so that if asked, you can have a few examples of contemporary artists ready to name drop! If asked for examples of your work, be prepared with at least 3 pieces that show off your style and ability best.


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