185 Art-Related Career Alternatives for Visual Artists

Art-related career alternatives are often the best choice for a multitude of reasons.

— Barney Davey

First, I would never discourage someone who has a passion and wants to become a full-time artist from choosing 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, which makes art-related career alternatives a great choice.

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 reasonable measure of success is what you really want to achieve and how well you get there.

How to Find Yourself in the Art Business
Success leaves tracks — learn to find and follow them here.

There are far fewer artists in it for the money versus those who place a lower priority on their profit motives. For them, taking a job to support their artistic endeavors is a better choice than marketing their art to support their lifestyle.

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. It’s just one sliver of unique advice on the art business found in the Art Marketing News blog.

Now, whether or not your destiny is to make full-time artist status or take on an art-related career, 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.

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 your alternative art-related career.

How to Find Yourself in the Art Business
Success leaves tracks — learn to find and follow them here.

My art marketing broadcast partner, Jason Horejs, owns Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale. Because of production concerns, he rarely represents artists who are not full-time. His reasoning makes sense. He is looking for artists committed to their full-time art careers and meeting his minimum production expectations for representation in the gallery. He has found the production part is highly problematic for artists with outside obligations.

I have been in this situation. Previously, I blogged using myself as an example. At one time, I wrote about Art Marketing News and book publishing as my side hustle. 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. But, more importantly, it provided a needed steady income, health insurance, and retirement benefits. Without the job, adequate health coverage was almost unaffordable.

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 subscribe to Art Marketing News. You’ll get a PDF of this report with insights and advice on how to live your best life in art and business.

Learn about art-related Careers.
Learn about art-related Careers.

Art-Related Careers

Airbrush Artist / Spray PainterFiber Artist
Architectural IllustratorApparel Accessory Designer (Shoes / Bags / Hats)
Graphic IllustratorDressmaker
Technical / Textbook IllustratorEmbroiderer
StoryBoard IllustratorFashion Consultant
CartoonistFashion Designer / Sports Apparel Designer
Commercial ArtistFashion Merchandising
Fine Artist (Painter)Pattern Maker
Printmaker / Screen PrinterCostume Designer
Courtroom ArtistQuilt / Rug / Linen Designer
Art ConservationistFabric Textile Designer
Special Effects MakeupT-shirt Designer
Mural ArtistFashion Merchandising
Tattoo ArtistFashion Design
Caricature ArtRug and Carpet Designer
Courtroom Sketch ArtistWallpaper Designer
SculptingMakeup Artist
Graffiti ArtJewelry Design
MuralistShoe Design
AirbrushingTextile Design
Comic Book ArtPattern Making
 Costume Design

Art-Related Careers

Advertising DirectorInterior Designer
Logo / Branding DesignerArchitect
Advertisement DesignerNaval Architecture
Sign DesignerLandscape Architecture
Magazine Layout DesignerGolf Course Design
Book / eBook DesignerUrban Design
Packaging DesignerSwimming Pool Design
Calendar /  Stationery / Wallpaper DesignerPlayground / Theme Park Designer
TypographerInterior Designer! Decorator
IllustratorSet / Stage Design
Technical IllustratorIndustrial Designer
 Home Staging
EDUCATIONFurniture Design
Art EducatorProduct Design
Art School DirectorAutomotive Design
Primary / Elementary TeacherIndustrial Design
Middle / High School Art TeacherTransport Design
University Lecturer / ProfessorToy Design
Private Art InstructorKite Designer / Utensil Designer
Art ProfessorMiniature Model Maker
Art HistoryMockup Artist
Art HistorianIndustrial Designer / Bridge Designer
 Display and Exhibition Design

Art-Related Careers

Gallery Owner! AssistantPotter / Ceramic Designer
Picture FramerFloral Design
Online CuratorMosaic Art
Museum CuratorGlassblowing
Art / Design / Color ConsultantWoodworking
Art Restorer ConservationistBlacksmith
Corporate Art BuyerMetal Fabrication
Art Handler / ShipperIce Sculpture
Museum TechnicianScreen Printing
Giclee PrinterPrint Design
Art Marketing ConsultantTaxidermy
Art Agent / Business ManagerStained Glass Window Designer
Art DealerWood Turner / Carver
Art TherapistMosaic Designer
Art Supplies RetailerJewelry Designer
Art Curriculum WriterWeaver
Art CriticGlass Artist
Arts AdministratorProp Designer
Arts and Cultural PlannerCake Decorator
Art AuctioneerFood Product Designer
Museum Exhibit Design 

Art-Related Careers

Graphic DesignAdvertising Photographer
Web DesignFashion Photographer
Logo DesignFood Photographer
Multimedia DesignPortrait Photographer
UI/UX DesignFine Art Photographer
Layout DesignUnderwater Photographer
Book IllustrationWedding Photographer
Medical IllustrationStock Photo Seller
Storyboard ArtistDirector of Photography
Book Cover IllustrationMacro Photography
Film & ProductionCelebrity Photography
Film EditingWildlife Photography
Set DesignAerial Photography
 Nature Photography

Art-Related Careers

Video Game DesignAnimator
Video Game DirectorConcept Artist
Game Level DesignDigital Illustrator
Web DevelopmentDigital 3D Modeller
Motion Graphics DesignWeb Designer
Animation & EffectsiPhone / Android App Designer
Motion GraphicsTelevision / Film Producer
Visual EffectsDocumentary Filmmaker
3D AnimationCamera Operator
Computer AnimationFilm Editor
3D ModelingSpecial Effects Designer
YouTube Video CreatorVideo Game Design

The above list touches on art-related career paths you could choose. It is not all-inclusive. Please use the comments section on 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.

How to Find Yourself in the Art Business
Success leaves tracks — learn to find and follow them here.

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

For instance, if you make art, you will need to understand how to frame it, ship it, and market and sell it. In addition, you probably have photographic and digital art software training and skills and many 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 art-related career 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. because blah blah

The good news is there are no wrong choices here. At worst, you start in one direction and go to another when your first choice is incorrect, 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!

Experience Fulfillment in Art and Business.

I hope you don’t need convincing to believe living the dream is possible. But hear me out if you do. You can create a life worth living, and a business worth running that brings you joy because it fits who you are and what you want. To learn what those things are, answer a couple of questions candidly.

  1. What is your vision for you and your art in business?
  2. Why will it bring you joy and fulfillment?

I’m asking the Art Marketing Toolkit Project (AMTP) members those questions. It’s a private community of artists helping each other and learning from me. We examine those and other questions to get at what is genuinely valuable to artists in their lives. Simultaneously we work on figuring out what kind of marketing plans and tools to manage the art business.

The goal is:

  • Gain clarity on what you want from your life in art and business.
  • Create viable plans to make it happen.

You’re Invited.

Please accept my sincere invitation to become an AMTP member if you like the concepts here. It’s only $4.99 per month to be affordable to the worldwide community of artists. Besides the camaraderie, group coaching, and art marketing advice, your membership supports my cause to grow this community and continually upgrade the training. It would be my pleasure to get to know you in the group.


How to Find Yourself in the Art Business
Success leaves tracks — learn to find and follow them here.


art career, art marketing, Art Related Careers, Career Alternatives, Full Time Artist

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  • 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!!!

    • 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! 😉

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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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