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Careers In Culture

Visual Arts and Crafts - What You Need to Know

Focus on Your Career

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The future means change

What’s New? Opportunities For You

One thing you can count on is that change is going to continue. Many new technologies will emerge, creating new ways of doing things and presenting new challenges and opportunities to visual artists. The phenomenal growth of the Internet will continue to open new routes to ideas and markets. If you choose a career in graphic design or animation, you'll be on a perpetual learning curve to stay on top of your profession. If you enter the visual arts, working in new media will present wonderful opportunities. Keeping your career going means you need to be open to what's new.

Competing With the World

Globalization is shrinking the world through international trade and electronic communications. What's in it for your career in visual arts, crafts or design? Globalization could mean exporting your creativity to the world. If you're an Inuit sculptor living on Baffin Island, someone in Florida could buy your carvings through the Internet. And if you're a new media artist in Montréal, you could participate in an on-line exhibition organized from Berlin. As the world gets smaller and smaller, your opportunities will multiply.

Booms and Boomers

Visual artists' incomes bounce up and down with the economy. Right now, demand is growing fast for the skills of graphic designers, illustrators and animators in advertising, film, television and digital media. As business and personal incomes grow, consumer demand for crafts and artwork could also increase. Aging baby boomers – people born between 1947 and 1966 – are expected to spend more on leisure and cultural products in their retirement. Whatever the future will bring, chances are your hard work and innovative marketing will always payoff.

Being Your Own Boss

If you choose visual arts, crafts or design as a career path, you'll probably be working on contract or commission, or simply selling directly into the marketplace. Many artists, craftspeople and designers have a studio or workshop at home. This means you're a businessperson as well as an artist. You need good business know-how such as marketing, time-management and financial skills. Plus you have the advantage of choosing where you want to live and work. With e-mail and faxes, you can still stay in close touch with colleagues and customers. Visual artists can be found in small towns, big cities and rural areas.

Flex Your Career

For creators in visual arts, crafts or design, the keys to your career will be versatility and flexibility. You'll need the versatility to mix artistic pursuits with computer and marketing skills. And you'll need the flexibility to combine creativity with other work – possibly related to your field. So if you're a sculptor, you may teach sculpting courses. If you're a craftsperson, you may work in a crafts store. If you’re a designer, you may freelance as a web artist. It can be tough going at first, but persistence pays off. Professionals who hang in there could move from part- to full-time work as their talent gets recognized.

What's your visual aptitude?

Careers in visual arts, crafts and design can take different routes:

Visual Aptitude

I Love What I Do, When I Can Do It
You support your art habit with part-time work. Typically applies to visual artists starting out who are looking for a gallery to represent them.

Taking Care of Business
You establish your own small business, supplemented at first with other work to pay the bills. Applies to most crafts professions.

Starting at the Bottom
You find full-time work at low pay, possibly leading to senior positions or your own studio or business. Often applies to photographers, freelance graphic designers, web designers and gallery workers.

Nice Work If You Can Get it
You find well-paid lobs from the start in graphic design, computer animation and new media.

Do you have the aptitude for handling these career routes? Check off the following statements that apply to you.

  1. I adapt willingly to change.
  2. I’m a self-starter.
  3. I like working with computers.
  4. I’m comfortable approaching others to sell my work and ideas.
  5. I can work with colleagues as part of a creative team.
  6. I’m curious about the world outside my own head.
  7. I like to master new computer programs or games.
  8. I combine creativity with money management skills.

If you said Yes to five or more of these statements, you could handle these different career routes!