A widely held belief associates artists and artistic degrees with dead-end jobs and barely sustainable wages. The truth is, “literature and painting offer a limited understanding of what an artistic career looks like,” says Carol Lloyd, author of “Creating a Life Worth Living” and executive director at Greatschools.org.
Too many go through turmoil trying to figure out where and how they are meant to be creative and they give up, she says. “And that’s too bad because they were meant to have artistic careers.”
With good information and a solid plan, students can enjoy fulfilling and lucrative creative futures in nearly any industry. Artistic careers encompass wide ranges of positions that suit different temperaments and skills.
Define creativity type
Students may know they like art class, but not why they like it. Help them understand what kind of creativity they prefer by asking questions such as:
Do you prefer to work in groups or alone?
When you create, do you improve existing work or start from scratch?
Do you like to concentrate on one thing or do you get bored without constant change?
Ask students about their hobbies outside of art and evaluate their creative work. What do they draw or paint? How do they spend their days?
Their answers will give you clues about what fields may suit them. For instance, if a student loves drawing cars, look for creative careers within the auto industry. A student who organizes dances and student body events might be interested in pursuing a promotional career coordinating sporting events and concerts.
Make a plan
Once you understand a student’s creative bent, you can help them outline an educational plan. Lloyd suggests encouraging students toward a broader four-year degree if they can manage it. If they opt for art school, urge them to include technical skill training, whether it is general marketing or industry-specific. “They’ll need to merge their art with the real world,” she says.
Today’s ever-changing technical landscape demands creativity and innovation. “Artistic people can write their own ticket,” says Lloyd. “They can reshape jobs that aren’t so creative. That is hugely valuable.”
Examples of creative careers that go beyond graphic design, teaching and studio work include:
Design – Designers often work in team environments, translating ideas into art and form. Designers need specific art education as well as a solid understanding of their desired industry.
Design careers might include visual, sound, graphic, product, curriculum, and architectural work.
Writing – Writers love words, but not all wriers love the same kinds of words. Some prefer writing long, fictional stories while others prefer writing short, technical pieces or compelling sales messages.
Students will write papers no matter what they study. Encourage them to major in an area that interests them – computer science or nutrition, for instance – and consider a minor in journalism or English to hone their writing skills.
A career writer may write poetry, educational materials, screenplays, journalism, company manuals, catalog descriptions and grants.
Management – Those who manage artistic projects know how to put pieces together. For instance, a museum curator doesn’t design art, but decides how art collections should be displayed for flow and visual effect. An editor doesn’t always write articles, but knows how to organize a magazine’s graphics, copy and advertisements.
Management is never a first job. Students will need a broad view of business and industry to position themselves for promotion. Urge them to pursue a field that interests them with a minor in business. Or, suggest they major in business, but stay involved in associations related to a chosen industry.
Artistic management careers might include art direction, events coordination, business marketing, wedding planning, museum curation and editing.
Fear not the artistic child. With your help and direction, their futures can be bright, fulfilling and lucrative.