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.

Artists Skills

Below are the skills needed to be artists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Active Learning3.253.38
Critical Thinking3.253.25
Active Listening3.123.25
Judgment and Decision Making33
Reading Comprehension33.12

Artists Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be artists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Fluency of Ideas44.12
Arm-Hand Steadiness3.753.75
Visual Color Discrimination3.755.25

Artists Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be artists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Computers and Electronics4.245.1
English Language3.874.19
Production and Processing3.594.2
Fine Arts3.454.3

Artists Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being artists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Thinking Creatively4.85.82
Getting Information3.912.87
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work3.724.54
Making Decisions and Solving Problems3.573.67
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships3.564.78

Artists Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being artists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work StyleImportance
Attention to Detail4.81
Stress Tolerance4.18

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Artists jobs , as of 2019

Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Salt Lake City470$36,210
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell350$92,570
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim210$88,020
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach190$83,340
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington70$48,580
Austin-Round Rock50$52,760

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to artists

Source : 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,; O*NET® 24.3 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,

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.