A career in art and design

  Tips4Jobs Tips4Jobs Tips4Jobs Tips4Jobs

Artists and designers brighten up our world, give us new ways of looking at things and create everything from paintings and pots to the look of our cars and the style of our homes.

More than 760,000 people now work in some aspect of art or the 'cultural industries' – and the number seems to be rising.

Fashion, furniture, websites, jewellery, toys – artists and designers work in hundreds of different fields and we can only cover a few of them here.

You will find case studies on people who are working as an art teacher and an art therapist, a graphic designer and an artworker, an artist, a sculptor, a fashion designer, an art dealer and more. At the end of each example, you will see a list of related jobs. Use this to help you research other possibilities.

Want to be your own boss?

As you'll see from the artists and designers featured here, many people who work in the arts are freelancers or run their own small businesses. In fact, it is estimated that around half are self-employed.

Artists and designers who work for themselves need business and organisational skills as well as creativity. They need to be able to promote their work, sell it and keep accounts, as well as a whole range of tasks like buying materials, organising a workplace or studio and keeping up-to-date with new trends and techniques.

Here are a couple of things to consider if you are thinking of art as a career:

  • Not many artists earn a living from their work. You may have to boost your income from your creative work with part-time jobs.
  • Although there are thriving art scenes in many of our bigger cities, London still tends to be the capital for arts and culture. That does not mean you have to move there, but you do need to think about making contacts and connections.

Working for someone else

There are jobs in companies and organisations especially for designers. Graphic designers might work for an advertising agency or magazine publisher; CAD designers might work for an architect or engineering company. Some fashion houses and textile producers employ in-house designers too.

In many jobs, though, you might find you are up against a lot of talented competition. As with all art and design jobs, your most important asset is your portfolio – a collection of your ideas, designs and samples of work that proves you have the creativity and skill.

A career in art and design

Many artists and designers have studied at college or university – for A level students this often means studying a Foundation course in art and design before doing a degree or HND. A Foundation course gives students the chance to try different things like photography, printmaking and so on. Many students then go on to a more specialised degree course.

Other design areas call for different skills, such as computing, knowledge of printing processes, architecture, engineering or crafts. You might gain these on specific courses, on an apprenticeship, or through work experience.

Some artists simply have talent and teach themselves. They still need a good business head and contacts to be able to make a living.

Art & Design Careers

Modified: 16 June 2013

Did we help you? Please help us by telling us about your experiences e.g. interview questions and answers.