|Survey of Design and Media Art|
|Instructor: Lindsay Grace|
U.S. Department of Labor Report
Artist and Related Workers
Artists held about 149,000 jobs in 2002. More than half were self-employed. Of the artists who were not self-employed, many worked in advertising and related services; newspaper, periodical, book, and software publishers; motion picture and video industries; specialized design services; and computer systems design and related services. Some self-employed artists offered their services to advertising agencies, design firms, publishing houses, and other businesses on a contract or freelance basis.
Training requirements for artists vary by specialty. Although formal training is not strictly necessary for fine artists, it is very difficult to become skilled enough to make a living without some training. Many colleges and universities offer programs leading to the Bachelor in Fine Arts (BFA) and Master in Fine Arts (MFA) degrees. Course work usually includes core subjects, such as English, social science, and natural science, in addition to art history and studio art.
Evidence of appropriate talent and skill, displayed in an artist’s portfolio, is an important factor used by art directors, clients, and others in deciding whether to hire an individual or to contract out work. The portfolio is a collection of handmade, computer-generated, photographic, or printed samples of the artist’s best work. Assembling a successful portfolio requires skills usually developed in a bachelor’s degree program or through other postsecondary training in art or visual communications. Internships also provide excellent opportunities for artists to develop and enhance their portfolios.
Artists hired by advertising agencies often start with relatively routine work. While doing this work, however, they may observe and practice their skills on the side. Many artists freelance on a part-time basis while continuing to hold a full-time job until they are established. Others freelance part time while still in school, to develop experience and to build a portfolio of published work.
Employment of artists and related workers is expected to grow about as fast as the average through the year 2012. Because the arts attract many talented people with creative ability, the number of aspiring artists continues to grow. Consequently, competition for both salaried jobs and freelance work in some areas is expected to be keen.
Art directors work in a variety of industries, such as advertising, public relations, publishing, and design firms. Despite an expanding number of opportunities, they should experience keen competition for the available openings.
Median annual earnings of salaried art directors were $61,850 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $44,740 and $85,010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,410, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $115,570. Median annual earnings were $67,340 in advertising and related services.
Median annual earnings of salaried fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, were $35,260 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $23,970 and $48,040. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $16,900, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $73,560.
Median annual earnings of salaried multi-media artists and animators were $43,980 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $33,970 and $61,120. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,830, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $85,160. Median annual earnings were $58,840 in motion picture and video industries.