Art directors usually have years of work experience and generally need at
least a bachelor's degree. Because of the level of technical expertise demanded,
multimedia artists and animators also need a bachelor's degree. Although formal
schooling is not strictly required for craft and fine artists, it is very
difficult to become skilled enough to make a living without some training.
Education and training. Many colleges and
universities offer programs leading to a bachelor's or master's degree in fine
arts. Courses usually include core subjects such as English, social science, and
natural science, in addition to art history and studio art. Independent schools
of art and design also offer postsecondary studio training in the craft, fine,
and multimedia arts leading to certificates in the specialties or to an
associate or bachelor's degree in fine arts. Typically, these programs focus
more intensively on studio work than do the academic programs in a university
setting. In 2009 the National Association of Schools of Art and Design
accredited approximately 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and
design; most of these schools award a degree in art.
Art directors usually begin as entry-level artists or designers in
advertising, publishing, design, or motion picture production firms. An artist
is promoted to art director after having demonstrated artistic and leadership
abilities. Depending on the scope of their responsibilities, some art directors
may pursue a degree in art administration or management, which teaches business
skills such as project management and finance.
Many educational programs in art also provide training in computer
techniques. Computers are used widely in the visual arts, and knowledge and
training in computer graphics and other visual display software are critical
elements of many jobs in these fields.
Medical illustrators must have both a demonstrated artistic ability and a
detailed knowledge of living organisms, surgical and medical procedures, and
human and animal anatomy. A bachelor's degree combining art and premedical
courses usually is required. However, most medical illustrators also choose to
pursue a master's degree in medical illustration. This degree is offered in four
accredited schools in the United States.
Those who want to teach fine arts at public elementary or secondary schools
usually must have a teaching certificate in addition to a bachelor's degree. An
advanced degree in fine arts or arts administration is usually necessary for
management or administrative positions in government or in foundations or for
teaching in colleges and universities.
Other qualifications. 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 contract for his or her work. A portfolio is a
collection of samples of the artist's best work. Assembling a successful
portfolio requires skills usually developed through postsecondary training in
art or visual communications. Internships also provide excellent opportunities
for artists to develop and enhance their portfolios.
Advancement. Artists hired by firms often
start with relatively routine work. While doing this work, however, they may
observe other artists and practice their own skills.
Craft and fine artists advance professionally as their work circulates and as
they establish a reputation for a particular style. Many of the most successful
artists continually develop new ideas, and their work often evolves over time.
Many artists do freelance work 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.
Freelance artists try to develop a set of clients who regularly contract for
work. Some freelance artists are widely recognized for their skill in
specialties such as cartooning or children's book illustration. These artists
may earn high incomes and can choose the type of work they do.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
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