The work of artists and related professionals encompasses a seemingly infinite range of media and methods. Artists work with film, clay, paint, computers, and pencils, just to name a few, and all in the service of communicating a unique vision. Most people understand that the daily life of an artist is primarily consumed by creation. But not everyone understands the work of related professionals like art directors.
An art director helps develop and arrange the material that will decorate and illustrate publications and online media.
An art director may supervise the creation of art or select premade artwork.
Art directors are perhaps more bound by the restrictions of the marketplace, but their work is often just as creative as that of a fine artist or craft artist.
The amount of education and training required to enter the art field depends on the specialty and desired position.
Art directors and specialty artists, like animators or those who work in multimedia disciplines, usually need a bachelor’s degree.
Craft artists, on the other hand, do not need any formal training or credentials; they only need to be able to produce quality work.
Both liberal arts colleges and independent art schools offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the fine arts and art history.
These programs usually combine generalized study of arts and sciences with an intense focus on studio production in a single discipline.
Increasingly, university fine arts programs include extensive computer training.
Becoming an art director or art teacher requires a more formal training. To teach art in any elementary or secondary school, one usually needs to obtain a bachelor’s degree in fine art as well as a teaching certificate. In order to teach at the college level, it is usually necessary to obtain a master’s degree. As for art directors, they usually have to start on the bottom rungs of advertising or design firms. Some schools offer degrees in art administration or management, both of which can be helpful to aspiring art directors. These programs combine arts instruction with classes on finance and business management.
For most fine artists, the most essential training is a combination of study and practical work. Artists must spend countless hours honing their skills before they can expect to create quality remunerative work. Many fine artists apprentice under established professionals, in part to learn about technique and in part to get a sense for the commitment required to make it in this field.
The wages earned by fine artists vary considerably depending on whether they are self-employed or salaried. Fine artists tend to earn more when they are on salary. Indeed, the average salaried painter, illustrator, or sculptor makes $42,650. Some fine artists earn salaries of more than $80,000. A self-employed, or freelance, artist is much more subject to variations in the marketplace. An artist with a good reputation can make more than a salaried artist, but most beginning artists make considerably less. Also, freelance artists must pay for their own insurance and other benefits.
Multimedia artists, on the other hand, typically are on salary. The average salary for a multimedia artist or illustrator is $56,330. Multimedia artists and animators tend to do a little bit better in the motion picture and video industries, and a little bit worse in advertising and marketing. A few multimedia artists choose to work entirely on a freelance basis, but most opt for the security and dependability of a salaried position.
A craft artist is likely to earn much less than his or her colleagues in the fine arts or multimedia fields. A craft artist earns an average salary of about $29,080. Some craft artists earn more than $50,000 annually, but it is more typical for a craft artist to seek supplemental income with a second job or a teaching position.
Probably the best earners in the art field are art directors, who, when on salary, make an average of $76,980. Some art directors earn more than $150,000 a year. Advertising, marketing, and public relations are particularly lucrative fields for art directors.
The demand for artists is expected to grow at an average pace in the future. However, many people want to enter this field, and so the competition for all jobs is expected to be intense. There will be slightly less demand in the future for illustrators and art directors for print publications, as many of these media will deliver more content over the Internet. However, there will be increased demand for animators and computer-based artists. For talented craft and fine artists, there will always be ways to make a living. However, it can be difficult to establish oneself in these fields, and again, competition will be intense.