Northumbria University – How to get a career as a fine artist

For many creative and artistic people, a career as a fine artist is an exciting prospect. Fine artists get the opportunity to create original works of art to sell, and can also be commissioned to produce work for private clients, galleries or agents.

Fine artists can create work in all media, but often specialize in one or two particular areas. Specialisms include drawing, painting, sculpture, moving image, photography and performance.

Fine artist: the role, responsibilities and skills needed

Salary range: Extremely dependent on experience and negotiations

Skills requirements and experience

• A talent for producing art

• A love and commitment to your craft and career

• High levels of creativity

• Time management and ability to manage changing workloads

• The motivation and ability to sell and promote yourself

Qualification requirements

Qualifications aren’t essential to becoming a fine artist, but they can help to refine and develop your skills – and help you create a body of work that can act as a portfolio.

If you’re just starting out, a Higher National Diploma is a great first step, or you can continue to develop your craft through further undergraduate and postgraduate study.

In terms of higher and further education, there are many courses you can choose from. They include:

• Fine art

• Public art

• Sound art

• Design for performance

• Visual art and communication

What the job involves

• Writing project proposals.

• Researching projects, visiting locations.

• Planning project timescales and sticking to deadlines.

• Managing budgets and organising your materials.

• Creating work for a specific brief or commission.

• Generating publicity and ‘a buzz’ around your work.

• Applying for funding when opportunities arise.

• Selling own work through galleries or your agent.

• Creating and maintaining portfolio and website.

Don’t forget you’ll need to market yourself

The work of an artist isn’t always solitary – in fact you may often need to network and market yourself to get your name out there. You’ll benefit from an active social media presence, and you should create an online portfolio of your work to direct people to and showcase your work. You may also need to collaborate with other artists, or collectives, so the industry can be quite a social one.