Career Options for Art Majors and Minors

The study of art develops your ability to think and communicate visually. the fine artist may wish to communicate emotions while the medical illustrator needs to communicate information. A children’s book illustrator will try to communicate both. This skill is in demand but the competition is most art careers is acute.

The following list of sample occupations is far from comprehensive. It is designed to give an overview of some of the many possible career directions for art majors. The letters at the end of each definition indicate the level of education generally required for the position

E=Experience V=Vocational training/school C=Certificate B=Bachelor of Arts in Art B=Bachelor’s degree other than Art M=Master’s degree D=Doctoral degree

Business Occupations

Art Appraiser: Examines paintings, sculpture and antiques to determine their authenticity and value. Uses knowledge of art history and various chemical, x-ray or other tests. May work for auction gallery, museum or be an independent consultant. (E/B/M/D)

Art Consultant: Assists individuals or corporations to choose and buy artwork. Uses knowledge or art, galleries and artists to help clients make decisions about purchasing art. May work for a gallery, a corporation or, more likely, be independent. while no specific degree is required, extensive knowledge of art and the local art scene is particular is necessary and most art consultants have at least a bachelor’s degree.(E/B)

Gallery Owner/Director: The director directs the day-to-day activities of the gallery including direct sales to customers, publicity and preparing shows. The gallery owner decides which artists to represent and how and when to have shows. Most gallery owners are also the directors. (E)

Commercial Art Occupations

Graphic Designer: Designs art and copy for books, magazines, newspapers, television and packaging. Determines size and arrangement of illustrations, photographs and type and arranges presentation based on available space, layout principles and esthetic design concepts. May produce animated graphic formats for television or specialize in other medium. (V/E)

Illustrator, Fashion: Draws or paints apparel for printed advertisements. Positions model and garment to accentuate sales features. Uses models, props and settings to render drawings in various media. (V)

Illustrator, Medical/Scientific: Creates illustrations, graphics and three dimensional models to demonstrate medical or biological subjects using a variety of artistic techniques. Develops drawings, paintings, diagrams and models for use in publications, exhibits, consultations, research or teaching (V/B)

Museum Occupations

Conservator: Coordinates the repair, preservation and conservation of art objects. Directs staff in the handling, mounting, care and storage of art objects. This is a highly technical field using x-rays, special lights, sophisticated chemicals, etc. Related occupations include: Conservation Technician, Paintings Restorer, Museum Technician (M)

Craft Demonstrator: Demonstrates and explains craft techniques to visitors of a restored farm, village or a folk museum. These crafts may include black-smithing, weaving, candle dipping, sail-making, printing, etc. The craft demonstrator may wear period costumes and “play the part” of a historical figure to acquaint visitors with the traditional techniques of work in the time depicted in the museum. (M)

Curator/Assistant Curator: The curatorial staff in art museums acquires the art, insure its safekeeping and organize exhibitions. Larger museums may have many curators such as the Curators of Drawing, Education or Twentieth Century Painting. A minimum of Bachelor’s Degree in Art History is required for entry level positions such as Curatorial Assistant. Others require advanced degrees in Art History. Museums offer a wide variety of Internships. (B/M/D)

Exhibit Designer: Produces artwork for displays and exhibits in museums, zoos, botanical gardens, etc. Paints scenic or abstract background. Constructs 3-D objects using a wide variety of media including clay, plastic, wood, fiberglass, papier-mache, etc. May photograph, develop and enlarge prints and slides. (E/B)

Education Occupations

Art History Instructor/Professor: Teaches college courses in the history of art from prehistoric to contemporary. Researches and writes about a specific period and/or media. (M/D)

Art Instructor: Non-school art instructors can be found in a wide variety of settings including child-care centers, recreational centers (like YMCA) and senior centers. Instructors can teach general arts and crafts or specific courses and workshops such as water color, landscape painting, stained glass or interior decorating. Most of these jobs are part-time. (B)

Art Instructor/Professor: Teaches studio art courses to students in college. Specializes in a particular media and will be expected to produce and exhibit art work regularly. (M/D)

Art Teacher, Elementary School: Teaches general art skills to children from kindergarten to sixth grade. Many of these teachers are responsible for more than one school and may act as resources or art specialists for classroom teachers. Certification, which varies state by state, required a degree in Art Education. (B/M)

Art Teacher, Museum: Teaches fine art studio courses and/or art history courses in art museums to adults and children. Many of these positions are part-time. (B/M)

Art Teacher, Secondary School: Teaches art skills in specific classes such as painting, printmaking or ceramics. Some teach in more than one school. State certification requires a degree in Art Education. (B)

Art Therapist: Helps rehabilitate psychologically and physically disable clients, usually as port of a therapeutic tem in public or private institutions. Devises program using art to fulfill clients need and help diagnose problems. (B/M)

Design Occupations

Architect: Plans, designs and oversees building projects such as housing, office buildings, factories and hospitals, consults with client to determine functional and spatial requirements of new structure or renovation. Directs the preparation of detailed drawings and specifications for the project. Inspects the building on site during construction to assure compliance with specifications. The architect is not only an artist, but an engineer and manager. Within this field there are specialists such as Landscape Architect and Interior Architect. (B)

Fashion Designer: Designs clothing and accessories for children and adults. Renders detailed drawings of apparel and writes specifications of fabric, color, construction, etc. Confers with and coordinates activities of workers who cut and construct sample garments. May specialize in women’s wear, children’s wear, lingerie, swimwear, handbags, etc. (E/V/B)

Furniture Designer: Designs furniture for manufacture according to design trends, offerings of competition, characteristics of company’s market, capability of production facilities and production costs. Renders sketches and detailed drawings. Produces scale or full size plans and specifies material such as wood type and fabrics. May design and prepare detailed drawings of jigs or tools used in production. (E/B)

Interior Designer: In consultation with the client, plans and designs the interior environment of homes, offices, child-care centers, banks, hotels and other buildings. Taking into account the function of the environment, the clients’ aesthetic preferences and budget, the designed advises the client on space planning, furnishings, wall coverings, window treatments and color schemes, etc. May render designs in a variety of media. (E/V/B)

Industrial Designer: Designs the form of manufactured products such as tolls, automobile exteriors, toys, luggage, house-wares and scientific instruments. Consults with marketing, production and engineering staff to determine needs and specifications. Evaluates design based on such factors as appearance, serviceability, methods of production, material, marketability and costs. May produce sketches, detailed drawings or models. (B)

Model Maker: Constructs scale models of objects using clay, metal, wood, fiberglass for aircraft, boat-building, automobile and other industries. (E/B)

Package Designer: Designs containers for products such as breakfast cereals, CD players, sewing machines, aspirin and pet food. Designs and renders exterior graphics or labels. Fabricates model of container and makes modifications required. (B)

Set Designer/Scenic Designer: Designs production sets, signs, props and scenic effects for plays, motion pictures and television. Oversees production of set after approval and modification of design. Theatrical scenic designers are much more likely to have hands on involvement in the actual production of the set. May design miniature sets for use in filming backgrounds, titles or special effects and be designated a Miniature Set Designer. (E/B)

Educational Materials Designer: Designs models, games, flash cards, kits, displays, diagrams and other items for use in schools, colleges, training programs and by individuals. Makes renderings and production drawings of proposed materials. May construct prototypes. Evaluates proposals in consultation with production and education specialists. (E/B)

Other Occupations

Art Critic: Writes critical reviews of artistic work and exhibitions. Analyses factors such as theme, expression and technique, and makes comparisons to other work or standards. Forms critical opinion based on personal knowledge, judgement and experience. Most critical reviews are written by part-time critics, many on a freelance basis. (E/B/B/M/D)

Cartoonist: Draws cartoons for publication to amuse readers and interpret news highlights, advertising, stories or articles. May develop and draw comic strips or be designated according to type of cartoons drawn such as Editorial Cartoonist or Sports Cartoonist. May work in the television or movie industry and be designated Animator, or specialize and be a Special Effects Cartoonist or Background Artist. (E)

Police Artist: Sketches likenesses of criminal suspects according to descriptions of victims and witnesses and prepares schematic drawings depicting crime scenes. Many police now use computers in this work. (E/B)

Studio Artist: Create and sell are in one or many media. Because of the fierce competition in the art world, many independent artists have other jobs to supplement their income. Studio artists specialize and are Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers, Photographers, Furniture makers, Potters, Weavers, Jewelers, Video Artists, Film Makers, Computer Artists, Performance Artists, Conceptual Artists, etc. in addition, artists may specialize within these categories to become Watercolorists, Landscape or Portrait Painters for instance. Some successful artists hire Studio Assistants to help create their art or to do other tasks in the studio. (E/B)

Additional Careers

Advertising Designer, Airbrush Artist, Artist’s Agent, Art Librarian, Art Magazine Writer, Art Store Manager, Banknote Designer, Biological Photographer, Book Designer, Botanical Illustrator, Calligrapher, Caricaturist, Cartographer, Children’s Book Illustrator, Cinematographer, Conservation Technician, Corporate Art Designer, Costume Designer, Courtroom Artist, Display Designer, Exhibition Coordinator, Fashion Artist, Film Editor, Floor Covering, Designer Glass Artist, Greeting Card Designer, Interior Renderer, Law Enforcement Photographer, Librarian, Art Museum Lighting Designer, Master Printer, Muralist, Museum Director, Museum Technician, Museum Instrument Maker, Papermaker, Parade Float Designer, Photographer, Retoucher, Photo Journalist, Playground Designer, Portrait Photographer, Quick Sketch Artist, Restorer, Set Illustrator, Silk Screen Artist, Sketch Artist, Special Effects Artist, Stained Glass Designer, Tapestry Designer, T. V. Art Director, Type Designer.

Sample employment of Allegheny College graduates who majored in Art:

Altoon & Porter Architects, Los Angeles, CA Architect

Blue Cross of Western PA, Pittsburgh, PA Advertising Manager

Butterworth Heineman Publishing, Stoneham, MA Product Manager

Carnegie Museum of Art, Oakland, PA Programs Assistant

Cecil Community College, North East, MD Director of Community Relations

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA Curator

Delta Imaging, New York, NY Computer Animator

George Washington University, Washington, DC Associate Art Professor

J. Crew, New York, NY Assistant Art Director

Lexington Children’s Museum, Lexington, KY Curatorial Associate

National Capital Park Planning Commission, Riverdale, MD Art Historian

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, PA Public Relations Director

Satterfield Design Services, Midlothian, VA Interior Designer

Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA Museum Educator

Shaker Heights High School, OH Ceramics Teacher

Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC Data Base Coordinator

U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC Art Collections Manager


Career Options for Arts Management

This is an addition to the Sample Career Options sheets for Art, Music and Theater majors. Arts Managers administrate the “behind the scenes” aspects of visual and performing arts organizations. They work in management, finance, marketing, fund raising and operations for symphony orchestras, museums, theaters, art galleries, film studios, etc. Most Arts Management careers have no specific, generally accepted educational requirements although many individual jobs do and most people working in the following occupations have at least a bachelor’s degree. Many organizations require business experience or training. Some colleges offer programs or degrees in Arts Management.

Artist’s Agent/Talent Agent: Markets and represents individual artists to producers, galleries or publishers. Negotiates payment and other contractual benefits. The agent specializes in one area of talent such as ballet dancers, painters, children’s book writers, opera singers or film actors. May be self-employed or work for a larger organization.

Director of Development: Responsible for raising the extra revenues needed to operate the nonprofit arts organization; money that does not come from ticket sales, gallery commissions, etc. The Development Director researches and writes grant applications to individuals, foundations, corporations and government funding agencies.

Director of Finance: Advises the finance committee and/or the board on long and short term financial planning. Is responsible for managing endowments and investments, securing loans and representing the organization to financial institutions.

Director of Membership: Most non-profit performing and visual arts organizations offer memberships to their patrons which offer special benefits such as newsletters, admission discounts and special performances or presentations. The director of membership coordinates membership drives and administers these special services.

Director of Public/Press Relations: Responsible for placing information about the organization in the media and enhancing and protecting it’s reputation. The director creates press releases and special information packets, makes speeches, coordinates interviews, press conferences and special events, arranges for feature stories and articles and writes letters, announcements and invitations.

Exhibition Director: Plans and executes exhibitions for museums. Negotiates for the loan, travel, insurance and security of artwork and/or artifacts from other museums, individual collectors, artists, foreign governments, tribal officials, religious institutions, etc. Exhibitions for commercial galleries are handled by the Gallery Director or Manager.

Technical Director: Supervises carpenters, electricians, audio specialists, lighting engineers and other technical crewmembers in the performing arts.