Are You Interested in a Career in Art or Design?

It is one thing to love a subject like art or design, but it is another to work as an artist or designer. It can sometimes be difficult to see how to translate your passion into a job that can then become a career. Luckily, we can help with that.

Firstly, it is important to be aware of all the different jobs that involve art and design. After you do a little research into these options, you should then consider university courses and other formal qualifications that will grow your knowledge and improve your skills. Finally, you should find ways of making yourself as employable as possible in your chosen field.

Careers in art

There are several different careers in the world of art. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Fine artist
    This may be obvious, but some people do make their livings as straightforward artists. It is not an easy route and requires talent and hard work. Being an artist is competitive, so you will also need to know how to promote yourself and remain committed to your goals through any setbacks.
  • Photographer
    Photography is a technical skill as well as a talent, so the more you learn about the equipment and processes the better. There are several different varieties of photography, including weddings, advertising, fashion and photojournalism. Like fine art, this can be a competitive field, so you should always be looking for things that help you stand out
  • Illustrator
    Illustrators are usually freelance and use their talents to tell or supplement stories visually. Drawing, photography and graphic illustration are all various forms of this skill and being able to adapt to more than one is incredibly useful. As an illustrator you will also need to know how to work to strict briefs when working with clients
  • Animator
    When you animate something, you produce multiple images (frames) which, when played together, create an illusion of movement – this is animation. There are many opportunities for animators, including in film production as well as many other areas

Careers in design

Here are some options if you are looking for a career in design:

  • Graphic designer
    If you become a graphic designer, your job will be to create designs that catch the eye. You will need to work to a brief and develop innovative ideas and concepts in different media formats and styles. You will also have to master skills like Photoshop and InDesign
  • User experience (UX) designer
    UX designers are responsible for making websites and other apps, software or games easier and more engaging for people to use. This requires technical skill as well as creativity and if you want to be successful, mastering web programming languages and prototyping will be very important
  • Interior designer
    If you have always had an eye for decorating and love bringing several different elements together as a whole, then interior design may be for you. Interior designers have to have a vision for a space as well as the ability to work with architects, structural engineers and builders to make the vision a reality
  • Art director
    This job is usually found at magazines, newspapers, internet-based publications and advertising or public relations agencies. If you become an art director, you will be in charge of a team of designers whose work you will have to sign off as well as overseeing budgets and timelines. This is a very big picture career and requires excellent time and people management
  • Fashion designer
    You will probably already be familiar with what a fashion designer does. However, as well as designing clothing and accessories, working in fashion means knowledge of the latest trends, textiles and often practical sewing skills as well as self-promotion. Fashion is incredibly competitive and needs to have a commercial angle to work

How to stand out

A huge part of being successful in art and design is making sure you do everything you can to stand out to employers. Studying your chosen field at Undergraduate level is an excellent start but you can go the extra mile by applying for work experience and internships. This is a great way to demonstrate your enthusiasm and passion as well as to enhance your skills and gain real-world industry experience.

With art and design in particular, making contacts through volunteering and work-shadowing during your degree is likely to be very useful after graduation. Photographers and artists sometimes offer unpaid studio assistant roles, while agencies and larger companies often have official internship programmes on offer.

If you are studying as part of an institution, your university may already be affiliated with organisations or individuals that offer work experience, so it is always a good idea to ask your tutor or check the university website, too.

Where do I start?

Often, when starting to pursue art and design after leaving school, people choose to study at undergraduate level. This is an excellent choice, given that a degree will give you the skills and expertise to excel in your field, particularly Northumbria Graduates.

We’re proud to boast about previous art and design alumni, which includes Sir Jonathon Ive KBE, Chief Designer at Apple, who is credited as the designer of the MacBook Pro, IMac, MacBook Air, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and iOS 7.

However, not all international students can progress onto undergraduate programme straight away. That’s why Northumbria University Pathway offers an International Foundation Programme: Art, Design and Media. This is particularly useful if you wish to study an Art, Design or Media subject at undergraduate level but your qualifications and English language skills are below the entry requirements.

The course lasts for 2 semesters, or 3 if you need extra English and academic support. The 1st of semester is more general, teaching key skills in all areas of art, design and media. The second semester is when you specialise in your target area, for instance, fashion, fine art, textiles, animation or design.

If you successfully complete the programme, you are guaranteed a place on one of our undergraduate degrees in an Art, Design or Media subject area. You can then continue your studies, narrowing your focus and supplementing your studies with internships and work experience, before progressing into one of the careers we mentioned earlier in the post.

If you want to find out more about our International Foundation Programme: Art, Design or Media please visit the course page.

If you want more information about studying at Northumbria University Pathway, visit our website.

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