How to Become an Artist

If you have a passion for drawing, painting or making other forms of art, you might wonder how to become an artist. Artists are the creative individuals who use a variety of media, from pencil and paper to sculpted clay, to create visual work that illustrates a scene, expresses an emotion, makes a point, tells a story, educates a viewer or simply looks pretty or striking. The types of artists that exist vary as much as the materials they use to create their art.

Two common classifications of artists are fine artists and craft artists. Fine artists are the ones whose work hangs in museum or galleries. Their paintings and sketches are sold as décor in homes and business. Often, the artists themselves participate in the sale, especially if they are not yet well-established. Craft artists, on the other hand, utilize different materials and techniques to create more “craft-like” pieces of art, often with a functional purpose as well as an aesthetic purpose. Glass, wood, ceramics and metal are just a few of the components these artists use to create furniture, jewelry, pottery and other types of home décor that go beyond the traditional canvas painting. Common subcategories of artists include: cartoonists, sculptors, printmakers, illustrators and glass artists.

Artists often have a creative view of the world and natural skills in visually representing that view. However, to become successful in the competitive world of art, aspiring artists often choose to sharpen their innate skills through art courses. Aspiring artists often take classes in art or woodshop during high school. They may then pursue courses in art history or art studio at the college level, often earning a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts or a related subject. Some aspiring artists choose to pursue a graduate-level education culminating in a master’s degree. In addition to learning new techniques from experienced artists and enjoying the opportunity to work with new media, student artists use their educational career as an opportunity to build their portfolios, physical books or virtual galleries that present samples of artists’ best works. They may also train under an experienced artist who acts as a mentor and advisor.

Artists earn a median annual salary of $43,470, according to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. While professional artists may work full-time, others create and sell their work in their spare time, to express their creativity and supplement their income from other occupations. One advantage of part-time or self-employed work as an artist is the opportunity to set your own hours and make your own creative decisions. Art is a competitive field, but successful professional artists often work primarily for the purpose of creating beautiful or thought-provoking art. If you have a creative imagination, work well with your hands and possess the artistic skills to create visually appealing or thought-provoking art, knowing how to become an artist could be your first step toward an exciting new career doing what you love.

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