Career opportunities in the arts and design realm are truly what you make them. Unlike more traditional career paths, artists and creatives have the ability to mold their craft into a career. About 60 percent of artists are self-employed. Those who are not often to work in the advertising, computer, film, publishing, and software industries. Opportunities for artists will continue to exist in both traditional and freelance structures, with each offering its own positives and negatives.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects continued expansion of opportunities for creatives due to increased demand for animation and visual effects in video games, movies, television, and on smartphones. As companies continue to increase their digital presence, more art and design workers will be needed to help create visually appealing and effective layouts of websites and other media platforms.
The Vault Guides offer a sample of careers for artists and designers. Each guide gives, among other valuable information, an overview of the job and entry-level requirements. You’ll notice that some jobs may overlap with a variety of majors or industries.
Although your portfolio and reel matter the most, a resume is important too. Your resume is a summary of background, skills, and qualifications. It is often the first document your audience sees and, like your creative practice, your resume is always in a state of growth and development.
The word resume and curriculum vitae (CV) are often used interchangeably. To add to the confusion, the arts & design field include an artist resume as well.
In general, use a resume when applying for positions outside of academia, and possibly unrelated to your art discipline (administrative positions, other office jobs, etc.). Use an artist resume primarily when applying to positions with commercial galleries, museums, exhibition opportunities, and certain grant applications. Finally, create a CV when considering academic employment in higher education.
Quality content is more important than design
When it comes to choosing a format, some arts or media organizations may be more tolerant of design-heavy resumes that use color, graphics, or otherwise veer from the traditional one-page resume. Keep in mind that regardless of the audience, the interest is in quality content over a highly-designed document. In fact, some may view overly-designed resumes as a tool for masking a lack of experience. Use work samples and your online portfolio to show your design skills so you can keep your resume content-focused.
Your cover is meant to achieve two goals:
Use your personality and tell your own story.
The interview is your opportunity to share how your skills and experiences have prepared you to be successful in this role. Interviews take practice. If you’ve never interviewed before, explore our interviewing tips to learn the basics of a successful interview.
Common artist interview questions
You’ll feel more comfortable during your interview with a little practice first. InterviewStream is web-based video interface that allows you to respond to a series pre-recorded interview questions from your computer. Afterward, you will be able to review your recording to see how you did.
Have an interview coming up? Practice with one of our career advisors. Schedule a one-hour mock interview and we will show you how to answer likely interview questions and offer tips to help you make an excellent impression. Be sure to bring your resume and a copy of the job description with you to your interview.
Your portfolio speaks for you. It is a visual representation of your work and accomplishments as well as a medium to showcase your attention to detail and degree of professionalism. It is essential in working with clients, applying for a job, applying for graduate school, or requesting a grant, fellowship, or exhibition.
Developing a portfolio is an iterative process that should complete by the time you graduate or when you feel you are ready to go after a job or exhibition.
Your portfolio should include:
Whether your portfolio is a hard copy or digital, be sure to proofread before sending it out. It is a good idea to have others review it as well in order to receive their feedback and fix any problems. A trusted professor or mentor is an excellent person to critique your portfolio. Also, check out the resources available under our Communications and Media tab as well.
Most people create a digital portfolio because it is easier to share. If web development isn’t your strong suit, try one of these websites as a coding-free alternative to digital portfolio creation.
More than half of artists are self-employed and therefore must wear both artist and salesperson hats to make a living. Art fairs or selling online are excellent ways for new artists to showcase their work. However, most successful artists are represented by a gallery or agent that displays their work and approaches potential buyers when new works are available. Focus on building a broad portfolio that demonstrates your ability as an artist and seek out ways to promote your work.
For individuals seeking employment with a company or organization, hiring managers consistently hire candidates who demonstrate critical thinking, problem-solving, professionalism, teamwork, and communication skills. In addition, practical skills are an essential part of positioning yourself as a highly-sought-after candidate. VCU has a partnership with LinkedIn Learning, formally Lynda.vcu.edu, to provide free skills training for VCU students. Consider taking some of these recommended courses as a part of your training.
To access LinkedIn Learning visit, lil.vcu.edu and log in with your eID and password.