April 6

185 Art-related Alternatives to a Full-time Art Career

13  comments

185 Art-related Alternatives to a Full-time Art Career

Finding satisfying options for art-related careers.

To begin, I would never discourage someone who has the passion and wants to become a full-time artist to choose otherwise. It is a unique, noble and worthy way to make a living. That said, as with all entrepreneurial endeavors, going full-time is challenging.

Success as a full-time artist is complicated.

Becoming a successful full-time artist requires more than artistic talent. It requires a business mind, a marketing mind and a willingness to endure during dark patches where your income does not meet your expectations.

In other words, it often requires sacrifices for those who are not the beneficiaries of a spouse or other family members or friends who will support them in the early going. Life’s not fair. The only fair measure of success is what you really want to achieve and how well you do in getting there.

This blog is for all artists, regardless of status.

Readers of this blog know I work hard at providing practical art business and art marketing advice designed to help artists become more successful. The How to Make Success Selling Art to Interior Designers post is a perfect example. Response to it indicates substantial interest in the subject. So, stay tuned, or subscribe for future posts with more details on selling art to interior designers.

Now, whether or not you are destined to make full-time artist status, you will find the ideas, information and inspiration published here helpful in reaching your art career goals and potential. Know one thing. You do not have to work full-time as an artist to have a rewarding career as an artist.

Priceless advice.

I shamelessly tell you my ideas are worth following. Here is my best advice in a nutshell.

Choose your goals wisely, evaluate your resources fairly, execute your plan daily, and measure your progress regularly. Never be afraid to regroup and move to a higher calling when the spirit moves you, or the situation forces you.

Gratitude and respect are their own rewards.

Be grateful for the many opportunities before you. Never measure your success against others. Your path is yours alone, uniquely. When you understand and acknowledge that you and you only can define your success, your life becomes simplified in the right way. Moreover, through such self-awareness, you become oblivious to negative opinions of those who ultimately do not matter to your art career or art-related career.

Xanadu Gallery artists are all full-timers.

My art marketing broadcast partner, Jason Horejs, who owns Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, once told his Red Dot Blog readers in a post on artistic production that he does not have any artists represented who are not full-time. His reasoning makes sense. He is looking for artists who are committed, both to their full-time art careers and to meeting his minimum production expectations for representation in the gallery. He has found the production part is highly problematic for artists with outside obligations.

Balancing your day job and your art career.

Previously, I have written about how When Greatness in Your Art Career Competes with Your Full-time Job. In that post, I used myself as an example. That is, at the time I wrote it a few years ago, I worked full-time in a tech sales and support position for a large domain, hosting, and email provider. I found the work both informative and helpful in feeding my inner geek. More importantly, it provided a needed steady income, health insurance, and retirement benefits. Without the job, adequate health coverage was almost unaffordable.

Art-related Alternatives to a Full-time Art Career

If you are not yet ready to move into a full-time art career, I hope you find considering some of these art-related careers as possible leads towards an ideal situation for yourself. To learn more about any of these alternative art careers, use the Oracle, aka Google it:

ARTISTS FASHION, APPAREL & TEXTILES
Airbrush Artist / Spray Painter Fiber Artist
Architectural Illustrator Apparel Accessory Designer (Shoes / Bags / Hats)
Graphic Illustrator Dressmaker
Technical / Textbook Illustrator Embroiderer
Story Board Illustrator Fashion Consultant
Cartoonist Fashion Designer / Sports Apparel Designer
Commercial Artist Fashion Merchandising
Fine Artist (Painter) Pattern Maker
Printmaker / Screen Printer Costume Designer
Courtroom Artist Quilt / Rug / Linen Designer
Art Conservationist Fabric Textile Designer
Special Effects Makeup T-shirt Designer
Mural Artist Fashion Merchandising
Tattoo Artist Fashion Design
Caricature Art Rug and Carpet Designer
Courtroom Sketch Artist Wallpaper Designer
Sculpting Makeup Artist
Graffiti Art Jewelry Design
Muralist Shoe Design
Airbrushing Textile Design
Sketching Dressmaking
Comic Book Art Pattern Making
Costume Design
Needlework
Tailoring
ADVERTISING, MEDIA & MARKETING SPATIAL DESIGN
Advertising Director Interior Designer
Logo / Branding Designer Architect
Advertisement Designer Naval Architecture
Sign Designer Landscape Architecture
Magazine Layout Designer Golf Course Design
Book / eBook Designer Urban Design
Packaging Designer Swimming Pool Design
Calendar /  Stationery / Wallpaper Designer Playground / Theme Park Designer
Typographer Interior Designer! Decorator
Illustrator Set / Stage Design
Technical Illustrator Industrial Designer
Home Staging
EDUCATION Furniture Design
Art Educator Product Design
Art School Director Automotive Design
Primary / Elementary Teacher Industrial Design
Middle / High School Art Teacher Transport Design
University Lecturer / Professor Toy Design
Private Art Instructor Kite Designer / Utensil Designer
Art Professor Miniature Model Maker
Art History Mockup Artist
Art Historian Industrial Designer / Bridge Designer
Display and Exhibition Design
ART-RELATED STUDIO ARTS
Gallery Owner! Assistant Potter / Ceramic Designer
Picture Framer Floral Design
Online Curator Mosaic Art
Museum Curator Glassblowing
Art / Design / Color Consultant Woodworking
Art Restorer Conservationist Blacksmith
Corporate Art Buyer Metal Fabrication
Art Handler / Shipper Ice Sculpture
Museum Technician Screen Printing
Giclee Printer Print Design
Art Marketing Consultant Taxidermy
Art Agent / Business Manager Stained Glass Window Designer
Art Dealer Wood Turner / Carver
Art Therapist Mosaic Designer
Art Supplies Retailer Jewelry Designer
Art Curriculum Writer Weaver
Art Critic Glass Artist
Arts Administrator Prop Designer
Arts and Cultural Planner Cake Decorator
Art Auctioneer Food Product Designer
Museum Exhibit Design
GRAPHIC & VISUAL DESIGN  PHOTOGRAPHY
Graphic Design Advertising Photographer
Web Design Fashion Photographer
Logo Design Food Photographer
Multimedia Design Portrait Photographer
UI/UX Design Fine Art Photographer
Layout Design Underwater Photographer
Book Illustration Wedding Photographer
Medical Illustration Stock Photo Seller
Storyboard Artist Director of Photography
Book Cover Illustration Macro Photography
Film & Production Celebrity Photography
Film Editing Wildlife Photography
Set Design Aerial Photography
Cinematography Photojournalism
Nature Photography
GAMING & TECHNOLOGY GAMING & TECHNOLOGY
Video Game Design Animator
Video Game Director Concept Artist
Game Level Design Digital Illustrator
Web Development Digital 3D Modeller
Motion Graphics Design Web Designer
Animation & Effects iPhone / Android App Designer
Motion Graphics Television / Film Producer
Visual Effects Documentary Filmmaker
3D Animation Camera Operator
Computer Animation Film Editor
3D Modeling Special Effects Designer
YouTube Video Creator Video Game Design

Skills in your day job improve your art career.

The above list touches on art-related career paths you could choose. It is not all-inclusive. Please use the comments section at page bottom to add your suggestions and thoughts. Most of the positions listed require specialized knowledge or further education, either at the university level or through apprenticeship. Nearly all need the perspective of an artist.

These jobs will allow you to increase your knowledge and skill sets and help you make your art career, whether full-time or part-time, more fulfilling and successful. Because of the requirements of an artist career, many artists have the experience to some degree in any number of these art-related career fields.

For instance, if you make art, you will need to understand the basics of how to frame it, how to ship it, how to market and sell it. You probably have photographic and digital art software training and skills, and a lot of other jack-of-all-trades capabilities. No matter what art-related career you decide to pursue, you will acquire and hone valuable skills that can lead to new opportunities.

Your day job can become your ideal job.

You may find an occupation that is more lucrative and rewarding than you might have been able to accomplish as a full-time artist. You may also discover your knowledge is a perfect stepping-stone to help you leap to the career of your dreams as a self-supporting full-time artist.

The good news is there are no bad choices here. At worst, you start in one direction and go to another when your first choice is not right, or a better opportunity presents itself.

Here’s an additional resource from Pixpa you will find helpful: Art Jobs Perfect for Fine Arts Majors. Check it out!

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About the Author

I help artists and photographers find buyers, sell more art and operate profitably.

Barney Davey

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  1. Many of the careers above are as competitive as a career in art. (I was recently surprised to find out how competitive the framing industry is!) I know many talented art majors who have gone into teaching because that was the only option available. But even now, those jobs are challenging to come by with schools cutting back..

    However, learning Marketing/PR and even in Web Development are extremely valuable skills to growing an art business and making a living. I got a job doing something else, but what I did overlapped into these other areas increasingly and I soaked up all the knowledge I could… and I still seek to learn as much as I can on what’s working and what’s not.

    Now that I know I am dealing with a disability that severely compromised my health by pushing myself too hard, I am putting all my energy into re-launching my photography business so that I can maintain balance I need to in my life to stay healthy and strong. (I don’t mind working hard… It’s just not traditional hours or schedules.) It is scary, but a lot of doors relationship-wise have opened up professionally and I will now be able to approach things with an energy I just wasn’t able to before because I wasn’t receiving the treatment I needed.

    I would love to work a normal job too because of practical reasons, but I plan to make the most of what I have to work with.

    I have my first exhibit next weekend as I relaunch reaching out my perfect target audience. I am ready!!!

    1. Jillian, Thank you for your insightful comments. Moreover, thanks for sharing your journey. All the best to you with your photography career and your first exhibit.You go, girl! 😉

  2. Hi Barney,

    This is the first article of yours I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Thank you so much for the great information. I also love the “Priceless Advice” and “Gratitude and Respect….” pieces as well. I am going to print and post those VERY wise words somewhere where I will see them daily!! This one article has given me some great ideas and added spark to my enthusiasm, and I very much look forward to reading your past and future articles.

  3. I find myself in this position right now. I am an Art Instructor looking to become a full-time artist, but I am easing into it slowly because of the legalities of being a business owner and because I’m still learning how to run a business. I figure it’s better to take things slow and be on the right side of the IRS than the other way around. So for now it’s easier and better for me to be an employee of a company and build up my savings so I can sustain my business in the long run.

  4. You are completely on the money with this.

    I began in picture framing to help pay my way through art schools back in the late 60’s and have been doing so ever since.

    I have worked on the side doing sign painting, gilding, painting displays for retail, wide format digital printing displays for promotional expos, advertising/illustration product design.

    I now own and operate a frame shop/gallery, primarily with my own work on display and for sale. I have over the years become familiar with self publishing, digital and to some degree offset printing, sales, self promotion, in short all the multiple hats a small business owner must wear. I paint in my shop taking advantage of both the slow times for framing and to paint and blatantly display myself in the front window of my shop at the easel. Customers love it. Life is pretty good even though in the current economic stagnation running this kind of retail operation has seen many businesses stumble. Sometimes it’s more about grit than anything else.

    For me it’s been a lifetime of growing and learning in the business. Pretty much on the job training and always learning. I knew nothing about business and had to learn with the hard knocks, “on the job training” way from the bottom up.

  5. I’m currently a part-time college art instructor (art appreciation, art history) but have been thinking of becoming a full-time artist for some time now. Some of my friends from grad school think I have a great job, but these days it seems to take so much more of my time no matter how I try to schedule it. When I can get into the studio, that solid body of work that seems to top every gallerist’s list seems to elude me; I’ve painted in a realistic manner, then into more non-representational work, then collage gets my attention. Then nothing. For weeks. At this late stage of a crazy-quilt “career,” perhaps I should just enjoy my day job and do what I can in the studio.

    1. Dear Anita, Thanks for your comments here. I think too many artists put expectations on themselves, or feel obliged by expectations of others to break out a full-time career. It doesn’t have to be that way. Making art for the enjoyment of personal pleasure and enjoyment is a worthy goal. If something else happens along the way, great! But, relieving yourself of feeling responsible to “make it” as a full-time artist is a lot of baggage to carry around.

      I wrote/recorded this post recently, “How to Know You’re Not a Failure… and Other Assorted Thoughts” due to hearing from many other artists who are like you. That is, struggling with decisions and unneccessary feelings of inadequacy or something else akin to that. Bless you and carry on.

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