Artists communicate their ideas and feelings through their artwork. They express themselves through sculptures, paintings, illustrations and other methods. Their artwork may be stylized, realistic or abstract.

Fine artists create paintings, sculptors, watercolors, graphics and drawings. Fine art is a visual art that has been created for aesthetic reasons and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness. Fine artists create original artwork. Some fine artists work with various types of materials and others specialize in a specific type of material. Most of their artwork is sold through private art galleries and dealers.

Multimedia artists create special effects, animation and other forms of visual images by using video, film, computers and other types of electronic tools and media. Their creations are used in computer games, music videos, movies and commercials. A multimedia artist uses computers to make animated images and special effects for various forms of media.

Art directors formulate design concepts and presentation methods used for visual communications. They are involved with material that is placed in newspapers, periodicals and other forms of printed and digital media. They decide which pieces of artwork or photographs will be used and they also supervise the design, layout and the production of the material for the project. Their goal is to make the concept organized and appealing.

Craft artists create handmade objects that are typically sold at their studios, art-and-craft shows and retail outlets. Some craft artists have their work displayed at museums and art galleries. They produce items such as stained glass, pottery, tapestries, candles and quilts. Some craft artists use fine art techniques such as painting and printing to enhance their artwork.


  • Build and maintain an artistic portfolio
  • Attend art exhibitions and read art publications
  • Create sculptures and statues
  • Develop budgets for approval
  • Study techniques, styles, colors and materials for restoration processes
  • Build a clientele
  • Design graphics and animation by using computer equipment
  • Create story boards that display the flow of animation and map out vital scenes and characters
  • Create multimedia presentations, brochures, promotional products, web pages, computer artwork and technical illustrations for use in products, slide shows, technical manuals and other subjects
  • Create drawings, designs and illustrations for direct mail, product labels, television and cartons

Job Characteristics

Artists often work alone. They create their artwork in warehouses, office buildings and lofts. Some artists share studio space with others and sometimes use the studio to exhibit their creations. Some artists work from their residences. Self-employed artists typically spend a lot of time and effort trying to sell their artwork to clients and potential customers. Artists that work for advertising agencies, design firms and publishing companies usually have a standard workweek.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 12 percent growth in employment for artists and related workers from 2008 to 2018 which is about as fast as average for all occupations. The demand for multimedia and digital artwork will be a significant factor for job growth. The employment growth for multimedia artists has been forecasted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be 26 percent from 2006 to 2016. In 2006, there were 87,000 jobs. The median annual earnings in 2008 for multimedia artists was $56,330.

In 2006 the median annual earnings for salaried fine artists was $41,970. The highest paid 10 percent earned over $79,390. The earnings vary widely for self-employed artists. Some fine artists attempt to earn a living through sales of their artwork, however many fine artists are unable to make a living just from art sales and have to finds ways to supplement their income.

In 2008 the median earnings for salaried art directors was $76,980. The median annual earnings for salaried craft artists in 2008 was $29,080.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Many colleges and universities provide bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts. The programs typically provide courses such as art history, studio art, English, social science and natural science.

Art directors typically need to have at least a bachelor's degree. Multimedia artists and animators typically need to have earned a bachelor's degree. Many multimedia artists have acquired a bachelor's degree in art or design. Fine artists and craft artists usually are not required to have a degree, however it can be difficult to earn money without some formal training.

Independent schools of art offer associate and bachelor's degrees and certificates in fine arts which include plenty of studio training. When compared to academic programs at universities, the independent art school programs place a stronger emphasis on studio work. Independent schools of art also provide certificates in multimedia, fine and craft arts that include substantial studio training.

Many art education programs also offer training in computer techniques. Knowledge and skills in computer graphics and other visual display software are vital factors for many jobs in the visual arts.

An artist's portfolio is a major factor for clients and directors when they are deciding if they want to hire an artist or contract for their work. Internships are beneficial for artists for developing and improving their portfolio.


Major Employers

The top job providing industries are advertising and related services, motion picture and video, software publishers, computer systems design and related services, and specialized design services. Other top employers are public schools, colleges, museums, art galleries and foundations.

Schools for Artists are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Artists jobs , as of 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Atlanta 370 $89,130
Roswell 370 $89,130
Sandy Springs 370 $89,130
Los Angeles 340 $61,840
Long Beach 340 $61,840
Anaheim 340 $61,840
Aurora 130 $37,920
Lakewood 130 $37,920
Denver 130 $37,920
Towson 120 $77,500
Total Employment for Artists - Top 5 Cities Nationwide
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Salaries for Artists - Top 5 Cities Nationwide
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Total Employment and Salary for Professions Similar to Artists

Most Popular Industries for :

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Government 3,470 44% $66,490
Professional And Technical Services 1,080 13% $44,920
Performing Arts And Sports 850 10% $24,680
Traditional Publishing 660 8% $59,800
Education 580 7% $38,270
Movie And Music 520 6% $70,390
Miscellaneous Retail Stores 260 3% $36,210
Office Services And Staffing 250 3% $50,140
Business Management 150 1% $53,590
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Artists.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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