Career Profile of a Visual Artist

Working in the Fine Arts

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Artist couple Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Image courtesy Getty Images

Simply put, an artist creates art such as paintings, sculptures, video and film, sound works, drawings, printed works, installations and other forms.

The artworks may consist of framed pictures, elaborate room installations, or performance pieces to be exhibited, experienced and/or sold. The artworks may be ephemeral like smoke or vapor.

The artworks may be exhibited outdoors as public art or indoors in art galleries, museums, biennial exhibitions, art fairs and at alternative locations.

Education Needed to Be an Artist

To be an artist, one can be entirely self-taught; one can apprentice under a master artist, or one can attend university or art school. Again, the possibilities are endless.

An artist can begin in childhood like Picasso or later in life like Grandma Moses.

Equipment Required to Be an Artist

An artist makes art out of anything or from nothing. Conceptual and performance artists may just use their bodies to create work.

Artists may need to use costly materials and equipment to do their work, while other artists may just use recycled or found items that were free.

Some artists make use of various materials such as welded steel, carved wood, digital imagery, oil on canvas, drawings on paper, installations from found objects. Some artists make art from water vapor or bee pollen. The list of equipment is only limited by the artist's imagination.

Some artists may require huge studios with a big production staff, and heavy equipment such as welding equipment, cranes, glass ovens, kilns, and more.

While other artists may just need a small office to work in.

Artist residencies offer certain types of equipment for artists to use, such as the Frans Masereel in Belgium which offers studios specially equipped for printmakers.

Career Advancement as an Artist

Rejection is a big part of being an artist, so keep at it.

Keep applying for grants and artist residencies. Keep contacting galleries to show your work. Keep networking and making connections. Maximize your opportunities. And most importantly, keep making art.

A few artists will become enormously successful such as Picasso and Andy Warhol. But it is more common on average that artists need to teach or do other types of work to help supplement their income, especially when first starting out their careers.

As an artist's career begins to build momentum, the artist may be receiving commissions to make new works of art or may be selling regularly through an art dealer or the artist's own studio.

Noteworthy Artists

The list of noteworthy artists is practically infinite. Every society and every time period has its own noteworthy artists. Leonardo da Vinci (Renaissance) and Frida Kahlo (20th century) are two examples of famous artists in the Western World.

Further Resources

Arts Organizations in the US

Art Support

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