Career Pathways

Arts & Design

Industry Overview

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.  Access The Vault to learn more.

Other exploration resources for artists and designers

Creative Live – Live and pre-recorded videos of artists practicing their craft
LinkedIn University–a great tool for connecting with VCUarts alumni

Preparing for a career

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 to provide free skills training. Consider taking some of these recommended courses as a part of your training.

To access Lynda visit, and log in with your eID and password.

  • The Freelancer Playlist
  • Customer Service Fundamentals
  • Code Clinic
  • Creating Your First Website in Dreamweaver
  • Also, check out the Learning Paths!

Internship, Shadowing and Volunteering Resources

Experience matters. Fortunately, this industry offers numerous opportunities to build experience through volunteer work, shadowing opportunities and internships. Consider these options to find experience:

LinkedIn University
VCUarts Internship resources

Applying and interviewing

Resumes and Cover Letters

Opportunity search resources

The Creative Loft

Meet with an Advisor

To schedule an appointment with an Arts & Design advisor, call (804) 828-1645 or log into your Handshake account.

Rhonda Hall [View Image]

Anna Umbreit

Virginia Commonwealth University
Division of Student Success
907 Floyd Avenue, Room 143
Box 842007
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2007

Phone: (804) 828-1645
Fax: (804) 828-2060
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Created by VCU University Relations

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