Art & Design Careers
Art and design degrees are growing in popularity. In fact, the number of bachelor’s degrees conferred in the field has increased each year since 1999, with more than 75,000 degrees conferred in the 2009-2010 school year alone, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Degrees in art and design put roles in many different areas of business, including production design, consumer services, education, and more, within reach. Design careers in particular are in higher demand than art careers primarily because business is becoming more dependent on technology and Internet marketing, which relies on a great deal of visual design to be successful. But even art majors can find a place in the global workforce if they pursue the right leads. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates a 19% rise in jobs by 2020 for interior designers, a career that combines the study of art and design.
Overall, the most promising careers art and design majors can launch are the ones that keep pace with the constantly-changing nature of the global business world, such as graphic design, which can be applied in both printed media like magazines, brochures, and business cards, as well as digital media, such as on websites and social media account layouts.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the daily responsibilities of an art and design student. Fortunately, an abundance of resources are available to make your life easier, both academically and professionally; Using these resources can give you an edge in this competitive field, helping you learn more about your area of study, save money, get better grades and even improve your career outlook. In this guide to art and design resources for students, we’ve compiled the following: OpenCourseWare classes, open access journals, books and magazines, blogs, professional organizations and more.
As a student, you will invest time and money into your education, which is why it’s important to know your end-goal; where you would like to end up will determine how you get there. The following table lists the projected job growth and annual median salary for eight popular careers in art and design.
Career Statistics for Art and Design Professionals
Career Projected Job Growth by 2020 Median Annual Salary Interior Designer 13% $47,600 Art Directors 3% $80,880 Craft and Fine Artists 3% $44,380 Fashion Designers -3% $62,860 Floral Designers -8% $23,810 Graphic Designers 7% $44,150 Industrial Designers 4% $59,610 per year Multimedia Artists and Animators 6% $61,370 per year
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, OES, May 2012
Opencourseware (OCW) are free online courses that are offered by higher education institutions, including MIT and Stanford. While these courses are very similar to the courses you might take at an institution, they do not offer credit. You can, however, use these classes to complement your exist coursework or to teach yourself a new skill. Often, these courses include organizational tools and materials designed to assist you with self-evaluation.
Explore these free online courses in the area of art and design:
Open Access Journals
Open access journals provide free access to scholarly articles online. Scholarly articles are typically peer-reviewed and empirical, meaning they contain data to assist students in their research efforts. OAJ are typically used by students during the formation of research papers and other academic writing. Some of the best databases for finding great OAJs include:
- Directory of Open Access Journals
- Oxford Open
- Wiley Open Access
- OMICS Group
- Open Science Directory
- Open Access Journals Search Engine
The following OAJs are some of the best in the field of art and design:
- Architectural Histories: This journal, which is dedicated to historically grounded research in architecture and the built environment, is open to historical, historiographic, theoretical and critical contributions from a historical perspective.
- Field: A Free Journal for Architecture: This is an electronic forum for developing dialogue on critical and experimental perspectives on architectural practice, education and discourse.
- TheMA-Journal for Theatre, Music & Arts: This journal is dedicated to the history of performing and visual arts, and specializes in the critical and trans-disciplinary historical study of artistic production and reception in various artistic genres including literature, theatre, music, painting, sculpture and architecture.
- Journal of Fine and Studio Art: This journal publishes monthly articles in all areas of fine art including art appreciation and criticism, aspect ratio in pictures and art history.
- Music Theory Online: This journal publishes articles, commentaries on articles from previous issues, reviews and essays related to the field of professional music theory.
- Soundscapes: This self-published journal publishes articles and op-ed pieces on the history and social significance of media culture.
- Journal of Graphic Engineering and Design: This journal publishes novel research and papers in the field of graphic engineering, material and measurement science, design, typography and visual media communication.
- International Journal of Design: This journal publishes papers covering the socio-cultural aspects of: design, globalization and localization approaches to design, design strategy and management, ergonomics and perceptions in design, design theories and methodologies, and computer applications in design.
- Film-Philosophy: This journal publishes articles on film and philosophy, with a particular emphasis on the ways in which films develop and contribute to philosophical discussion.
- Bright Lights Film Journal: This journal publishes both short pieces and longer articles on production, analyses of genres, studio style, and socio-cultural and political issues on topics like gender and minority contributions to film.
For art and design students, books are a valuable source of academic information. Books also offer a way to experience art collections through stunning photographs, taken by world renowned photographers that wish to bring art to students who otherwise would not have access. The WorldCat database, the world’s largest collective library database, is the go-to source for academic material. This database includes the collection of libraries worldwide.
Some of the most useful WorldCat search results for art and design students include:
Online Magazines and Industry News and Research Websites
Take advantage of online magazines and industry news and research websites to get the most current information in the field of art and design. Often, these resources will feature interviews with industry professionals, exciting breaking-news and new tips and tricks for students and professionals to utilize in their professional career. The best online industry magazines and news websites include:
- Architect Magazine: This is the magazine, from the American Institute of Architects, is a place for architectural students and professionals to upload and share their projects with others in the industry.
- Arch News, Architecture News Daily: This is a leading online source of continuous information for architects and architectural students seeking the latest architectural news, including projects, products, events, interviews, and competitions.
- Art Business News: This publication provides comprehensive coverage of the art business including art events and trade shows for artists, galleries, collectors, students and art aficionados.
- Photo District News: Through feature articles and interviews with photographers including established professionals and emerging talent, this online magazine focuses on insights into all areas of photography. Techniques, successful business strategies, the latest ideas in branding and marketing, and new platforms for publishing and sharing images are all featured here.
- Music Week: Focusing on the business side of music, this website is a source of news, data, analysis and opinion throughout the industry.
- Music Connection: This is a monthly music trade publication catering to musicians, industry pro’s and support services.
- Layers: This magazine is a sort of “everything Adobe” resource that contains numerous tutorials for the Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, GoLive, Acrobat, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Dreamweaver and Flash programs.
- Screen Daily: This is the website of Screen International, which posts breaking film news, the latest film reviews and reports from film festivals around the world.
Blogs are one the of the best ways to gain insight into the art and design industry. Many industry professionals maintain blogs, and through them provide excellent tips on how to be successful in your career. The following blogs are from art and design professionals that you might be interested in:
- Life of an Architect: This blog, about living and working as an architect, is written by Texas architect, Bob Borson.
- The Best Part – Your Daily Art and Design Blog: This daily commentary, written by Orlando artist, designer and blogger, Jason Dean, focuses on all areas of art and design.
- The Burning Ear: This blog bills itself as the music blog for people with no time for music blogs. It provides new music and information about artists.
- Spoon Graphics: This blog, by well-known graphic designer Chris Spooner, is an excellent source of tutorials, advice and stock resources. There is also a “Members Only” design resource component to this blog.
- The Anonymous Production Assistant’s Blog: This blog was created to provide a forum for free discussion of production assistant work. It’s also a source of knowledge for people working in technical positions in the film industry; it even has job listings.
Professional organizations provide you with countless opportunities to receive valuable training, networking, and mentorship opportunities, but they are worth even more than that. These organizations also allow you to connect socially with others in your field, and bond with people who have similar interests and goals. Here are some of the most notable professional membership organizations in art and design:
- The American Institute of Architects (AIA): This is the leading professional membership association for licensed architects, paraprofessionals and students. The AIA serves as the voice of the architecture profession and a resource for members, providing continuing education, social events, awards and other services.
- American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA): This national, professional association is for landscape architects in the U.S. ASLA has both professional and student chapters. Membership in ASLA denotes commitment to the highest ethical standards of the profession.
- National Association of Independent Artists “NAIA”: The purpose of this organization is to strengthen, improve and promote the artistic, professional and economic success of artists who exhibit in art shows. The NAIA is “committed to integrity, creativity, and the pursuit of excellence and we advocate for the highest ideals and practices within all aspects of the art show environment.”
- American Federation of Musicians: This is the largest organization in the world representing the interests of professional musicians. It is dedicated to negotiating fair agreements, protecting ownership of recorded music, securing benefits such as healthcare and pension, lobbying legislators on behalf of musicians, and raising industry standards for professional musicians.
- American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA): This organization advances graphic design as a professional craft, and is the largest community of design advocates. The AIGA works to define global standards and ethical practices, guide design education, inspire designers and the public, enhance professional development, and make industry tools and resources accessible.
- Society for Cinema and Media Studies: This is the leading scholarly organization in the United States dedicated to promoting a broad understanding of film, television and related media through research and teaching grounded in the contemporary humanities tradition.
Internship and volunteer experience is invaluable. This kind of experience shows potential employers how you work, and if you can intern with a potential employer you get a chance to see how you fit within the organizational culture. Your internship or volunteer work will allow you to develop a sense of work expectations and opportunities, giving you time to confirm your career choice or change it while you have time.
These kinds of experiences allow you to network with professionals in your field. They also give you a chance to apply what you’ve learned in class in the real world. Finally, this type of work experience is a great way to learn industry-specific culture and etiquette.
Here are some great examples of internship/volunteer opportunities:
- Museum of Arts and Design: These positions offer the chance to work in several departments of this non-profit, visual arts museum; departments include education, curatorial, development, public relations, marketing, office of the registrar and administration for college credit.
- Art Institute of Chicago (ARTIC) Internships: These positions give students the opportunity to work with the guidance of ARTIC curators or department heads, assisting with special projects, research, clerical support and other tasks. Most of the internships are unpaid or for academic credit. ARTIC also offers a variety of volunteer positions.
- InLiquid: These volunteer opportunities provide students with experience in the arts and nonprofit sector, event coordination, exhibition installation and other areas.
State Level Architecture Licensing
Each state has its own architectural registration board; to be a licensed architect, you must pass an examination promulgated by the state board in your area. Each state’s architecture industry is regulated by its architectural registration board.
Job boards are a great resource for art and design students. The art and design industry in particular has a number active job boards, which can assist you in your job search.
- Coroflot: This job board is one of the largest and most active. It is focused on the hiring needs of companies ranging from smaller, local businesses to large multi-national businesses. Fuseproject, Frog Design, Microsoft, Nokia, Landor, RIM, Nike, Intel, Blu Dot, and Sony are examples of companies that post jobs here.
- Krop: This job board prides itself on its management by the same designers who started it, ostensibly providing an even focus between companies and creative professionals.
- AIGA: The job boards of this professional organization for graphic artists is dedicated to assisting members in finding work that is both fulfilling and well-paid.
- Grain Edit: Grain edit is focused on contemporary designers that draw inspiration from classic design work from the 1950s-1970s; jobs listed on Grain Edit tend to be related to that theme. The site is located in the Bay Area, although there are jobs listed from all over the U.S.
- How: This list provides design jobs for graphic, web and interactive design opportunities all over the U.S.
It is crucial to your art and design career that you make the most of unconventional educational resources and online information. We’ve gotten you started here, but always keep looking for new resources.