Overview

Becoming an artist takes passion and commitment and may be more of a vocation than a calculated career choice. The industry has slower than average growth at about 3% over 10 years and competition for funding and commissions can be fierce, so you have to be truly inspired to succeed.

However, if art is your passion, then there are a number of different angles to consider. Fine art and sculpture are probably the most difficult to break into – there are so many struggling artists who end up taking other less fulfilling jobs to pay the bills – but they are not the only possible directions. Artists include tattooists, illustrators, make-up artists, photographers, writers… all forms of art, but some of which have far better employment prospects than others.

Being an artist requires a high level of skill in your chosen field, great negotiation and interpersonal skills to secure those elusive commissions, and flexibility in working hours to meet deadlines. A strong or quirky personality can be a distinct advantage, too, because artists who can generate publicity are more likely to be recognized for their work.

Artists are commonly self- employed and often work far longer hours than those in more traditional employment. Formal qualifications are not a requirement, although many artists will have pursued their interests through higher education and art degrees before attempting to make a living from their work. For the successful artist, the remuneration can be far higher than an average wage.

Pay

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, median pay for professional crafters and fine artists in 2016 was around $45,000 dollars a year. On the very low end, some made just under $20,000, On the high-end, artists can make closer to a hundred thousand dollars over the year. Job aggregator Payscale puts the median figure a little bit higher at just under $46,000 per year.

It should be noted that around half of the artists surveyed are self-employed, which means they have other liabilities like health insurance and taxes taken into account. Additionally, there are many other well-established freelance writers, illustrators, and crafters, who use their artwork to supplement their regular income.

Finally, as with all arts, the value of our work is always relative. There are artists who can make millions of dollars a year and there are also really talented artists who make very little selling on the street, so estimating an industry wide average pay level can be quite difficult.

Crafter & Artist Pay Statistics

2016 Median Pay$45,080 per year
$21.68 per hour
Typical Entry-Level EducationNon-Traditional/Apprenticeships
Work Experience in a Related OccupationNone
On-the-job Training?Long-term continued learning
Number of Jobs, 201650,300
Job Outlook, 2014-2024+2%
Employment Change, 2014-2024+900
Sources: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics & Payscale

Industry Forecast

The official job outlook for professional crafters and fine artists is relatively positive with a 2% growth rate from 2014 to 2024. . The national average for all occupations combined however, is 7%, meaning job outlook for professional artists is not quite as positive as it could be.

The growth rate in demand for artists and art work depends, in large part, on the overall health of the individual state and local economies. Americans tend to spend money on artwork when they feel they have discretionary income to spend.

This means that during times of economic hardship or national economic recession, people tend to spend less on artwork as they feel they need to save for more “essential” expenses such as food, gasoline, and insurance.

This can explain the relatively tame 2% growth rate over the last decade, as although America technically has come out of recession, many of the working class still have not felt the full effects of the recovery. Stagnant wages and an increased cost of living mean that majority of Americans are still uncomfortable spending money on art when they feel they have less money to spend each year.

There is also a tug-of-war going on between inexpensive mass-produced items that are made in China but designed to look like handmade pieces of art, and authentic art  often made locally and with much higher quality materials.

Many people, often restricted by lack of income growth, prefer purchasing the cheaper of the two, However there will always be those who believe in supporting their local economy, as well as appreciating higher quality, and this will continue to supply professional artists and crafters with demand.

Types of Artists

In this section we usually cover the various more specialized roles within an overall drop type. For example, within the marketing industry for our social media marketers, public relations specialist, advertising professionals and so forth. The arts, on the other hand, have quite literally an endless list of specialized roles and titles.

They are pastry chefs, who may consider themselves artists; dessert chefs, who are even more specialized; then there are cake decorators, who are a subset of dessert and pastry chefs, And finally, some may even specialize in mini cakes or cupcakes. The point we are trying to make here is that we simply cannot list all the various types of artists that exist in America.

We can, however, list the main professional artist titles that may be used on a resume to apply for a job with a company. This is not to say a self-employed “Lego Sculptor” is not a real artist, but that is not a job title that most registered companies would seek to hire, and the point of Copy My Resume is just to assist those who are seeking jobs with registered companies.

Those professionals who specialize in the fine arts are often broken down into a few different segments depending on the tools they use and their applications. Many artists can apply for or transition into roles such as Graphic Artist, Designer, Illustrator, Art Teacher, Graphic Designer, Art Director, Creative Director, or Technical Illustrator.

Each of the above job titles has major importance within companies’ branding departments, public relations branches, and marketing teams. Being able to write about your skills as an artist on  your resume in a way that adds some structure is critical in transitioning from self-employed to being employed by a company.

Again, we are only touching upon the surface of some of the most in-demand artist related job titles, There are actually many more careers that fit into the arts category. For a much more exhaustive list of the types of careers that artists can pursue, we highly recommend you visit the Art Career Project.

Resume Example Download

Below is an example of a professionally crafted (“crafted”…get it?) Artist resume that you can download, save, print off, or fold up into origami, whatever helps get the creative juices flowing and fingers typing in composing your new resume.

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How To Write Your Own

Below are some tips specifically designed to help you write a standardized resume for a creative industry that will both get HR attention while also reflecting your passion as a creator.

Business Mind First

First, it is important to remember that writing the resume requires a business mindset first and creative mindset second. It may be boring, but the resume is much like a suit, it is steeped in tradition that is not really acceptable to change In formal situations such as in job applications.

You need to keep in mind standard formats, fonts, and trying to keep the length of your resume to one page, if possible. Double and triple checking things like spelling and grammar are also “must do’s”.

You cannot use first person on your resume, and you do not want to include experiences that are not relevant to the position for which you are applying, even if they are exceptionally artistic. For example, your stained glass soldering skills really have no place in your resume if you are applying to a company for an artistic director position or for a web designer position.

Reread the job description and try to think about what the person who wrote it is seeking for an applicant. Then think back to all of your experiences and try to pull out the ones that will be most relevant to what the job description writer is seeking. Write these experiences down and build upon them to craft a resume that is not only targeted, but unique, as well.

Although the resume is essentially an autobiography of your professional experiences, remember you are writing it for “them”, not yourself, so the contents must be pertinent to the job description, industry, and company in question.

Try to Remain Objective

While Art is a highly subjective field, you want to remain as objective as possible when writing your resume. This means you must assume the reader is not familiar with people’s first names in your industry, for example, so if mentioning the name of the famous exhibit you were part of, also mention the location to give a frame of reference for the reader.

You also want to use precise and descriptive language devoid of unnecessary filler. There is nothing wrong with limiting it into one page, and if you have more than five years of experience and educational background, that should be a breeze. Within this page you want to mention your experiences in numerically quantifiable ways, whenever possible.

HR professionals and  businesses, in general, like numbers, so try to mention your achievements in dollar or percentage terms whenever possible. Stating the amount of artwork in valuation terms which you organized for a show, number of attendees of a training class you led, or the number of days you had to complete a particularly complicated project, will add scope to your achievements.

Emphasize Mastered Skills

It is important as an Artist to be sure you communicate the very specific skill sets you have acquired over the years. This means including specialized equipment that you have knowledge of and experience using such as track pads, illustration tools, and software suites.

Oftentimes, when looking to hire, companies have a list of tools, particularly software, that they use within the company and which they need their applicants to also be able to use. This includes things like illustrator, Dreamweaver, and other editing tools. Stating very clearly that you have knowledge of such things will help check off one of their requirements and help advance your application.

Promotion

If you are coming from the background of working as a self-employed artist, be aware that your profession includes much more than simply creating art. When you have your own business, you an are artist first, but you are also an accountant, a marketer, and the CEO. This means you have to be mindful of things like promotion and accounting practices, both of which are highly applicable skill sets in the professional world.

Someone applying for a marketing position in a company with experience managing multiple social media accounts, building follies, engaging with users, and routing products, As in their own artwork previously has its proven track record as a social media manager which will be a huge plus for anyone working in marketing.

Similarly, if you have ever organized seminars, taught classes, or coordinated with other organizations in planning art related events, then you have also exercised leadership, communication, and planning skills. You can emphasize these experiences and their highly desirable transferable skills on your resume.

Finally, do not forget to feature your portfolio prominently in your old-fashioned, printed resume. Do this by including a link to your  official website, blog, or Behance account.  Because so much of this profession is visually orientated, linking to your work online is critical in communicating your skills and experiences.

Sample Bullet Points

Below is a collection of simple bullet points that you can use as a starting point when brainstorming your own list of targeted and quantified points to add to your resume.

Sample Artist Bullet Points

Task
Use materials such as pens and ink, watercolors, charcoal, oil, or computer software to create artwork.
Integrate and develop visual elements, such as line, space, mass, color, and perspective, to produce desired effects, such as the illustration of ideas, emotions, or moods.
Confer with clients, editors, writers, art directors, and other interested parties regarding the nature and content of artwork to be produced.
Submit preliminary or finished artwork or project plans to clients for approval, incorporating changes as necessary.
Maintain portfolios of artistic work to demonstrate styles, interests, and abilities.
Create finished art work as decoration, or to elucidate or substitute for spoken or written messages.
Cut, bend, laminate, arrange, and fasten individual or mixed raw and manufactured materials and products to form works of art.
Monitor events, trends, and other circumstances, research specific subject areas, attend art exhibitions, and read art publications to develop ideas and keep current on art world activities.
Study different techniques to learn how to apply them to artistic endeavors.
Render drawings, illustrations, and sketches of buildings, manufactured products, or models, working from sketches, blueprints, memory, models, or reference materials.
Create sketches, profiles, or likenesses of posed subjects or photographs, using any combination of freehand drawing, mechanical assembly kits, and computer imaging.
Create sculptures, statues, and other three-dimensional artwork by using abrasives and tools to shape, carve, and fabricate materials such as clay, stone, wood, or metal.
Study styles, techniques, colors, textures, and materials used in works undergoing restoration to ensure consistency during the restoration process.
Develop project budgets for approval, estimating time lines and material costs.
Shade and fill in sketch outlines and backgrounds, using a variety of media such as water colors, markers, and transparent washes, labeling designated colors when necessary.
Collaborate with engineers, mechanics, and other technical experts as necessary to build and install creations.
Create and prepare sketches and model drawings of cartoon characters, providing details from memory, live models, manufactured products, or reference materials.
Examine and test paintings in need of restoration or cleaning to determine techniques and materials to be used.
Create graphics, illustrations, and three-dimensional models to be used in research or in teaching, such as in demonstrating anatomy, pathology, or surgical procedures.
Brush or spray protective or decorative finishes on completed background panels, informational legends, exhibit accessories, or finished paintings.
Trace drawings onto clear acetate for painting or coloring, or trace them with ink to make final copies.
Apply solvents and cleaning agents to clean surfaces of paintings, and to remove accretions, discolorations, and deteriorated varnish.
Model substances such as clay or wax, using fingers and small hand tools to form objects.
Collaborate with writers who create ideas, stories, or captions that are combined with artists' work.
Provide entertainment at special events by performing activities such as drawing cartoons.
Render sequential drawings that can be turned into animated films or advertisements.

Professional Summary

Instead of a traditional career objective, you will want to start out your Artist resume with a professional summary. Career objectives are designed for people who have a very specific background, applying for a corresponding specific position. That is why it is only two sentences long.

Artists, on the other hand, have broader backgrounds and can apply for a much larger variety of job titles, as we touched upon above. Because of the enormous amount of flexibility, artists should utilize a professional summary at the top of the resume to clearly communicate their experiences and qualifications for a job.

Professional summaries can be 3-5 sentences long and even include a few key bullet points. The extra room is designed to allow you to have more space at the top of your resume to explain how your past experiences, especially if you are self-employed, can translate nicely into a company position.

It is critical here that you try to mirror the job description in your own professional summary so that you look like an exact -match candidate. Obviously, you will be mentioning experiences that are specific to you, but the whole point of the professional summary, besides qualifying yourself, is to convince the reader to continue on through the body of the resume, which then, in turn, should prompt them to want to interview you, and hopefully, hire you.

Think of your professional summary as an elevator pitch, or how you might introduce yourself at a semi-formal cocktail party. Short, sweet, and descriptive: you want to generate interest and pull the listener into asking more about your background.

Additional Skills & Certifications

Here, you want to list additional skills that are highly sought after by employers. As briefly mentioned above, if you have experience leading groups, speaking, or organizing events locally, include these, as all of these traits are highly transferable to the corporate world.

You also want to list very specific software you are familiar with. This could include things like hardware, such as using Wacom  touchpads and styluses, to Software suites particular to the design industry like Photoshop, illustrator, Sketch, InDesign, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, Corel PaintShop, Adobe Premier or Final Cut for videos.

Often times employers will actually list the specific software knowledge that they are seeking in the candidate in their job description. In this case, include as many of us as possible, since you know they will be looking for them.

Useful Skills to Include

Below are a few other additional skills that you can use for inspiration, although we do not recommend you copy them if they are not specific to your own individual experiences and skills.

Useful Artist Skills

SkillSkill Description
Active LearningUnderstanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Active ListeningGiving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical ThinkingUsing logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Judgment and Decision MakingConsidering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Social PerceptivenessBeing aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Complex Problem SolvingIdentifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
SpeakingTalking to others to convey information effectively.
MonitoringMonitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Operations AnalysisAnalyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
Time ManagementManaging one's own time and the time of others.
Reading ComprehensionUnderstanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
PersuasionPersuading others to change their minds or behavior.
CoordinationAdjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
WritingCommunicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Service OrientationActively looking for ways to help people.
Management of Financial ResourcesDetermining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.
Management of Material ResourcesObtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.
NegotiationBringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
Operation MonitoringWatching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Quality Control AnalysisConducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Learning StrategiesSelecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
Operation and ControlControlling operations of equipment or systems.
Systems EvaluationIdentifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
Technology DesignGenerating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.
Systems AnalysisDetermining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
Management of Personnel ResourcesMotivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
Equipment SelectionDetermining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
TroubleshootingDetermining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
MathematicsUsing mathematics to solve problems.
ProgrammingWriting computer programs for various purposes.
InstructingTeaching others how to do something.
InstallationInstalling equipment, machines, wiring, or programs to meet specifications.
ScienceUsing scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Equipment MaintenancePerforming routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
RepairingRepairing machines or systems using the needed tools.

Additional Resources

A Day in the Life of a Professional Artist