Art Choosing a Major in Art

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The Power of an Art Career



Artists are powerful people. They don’t achieve this power through command of wealth or the might of the sword, but through telling stories and creating images that resonate in profound ways with people across times and cultures.


Artists have fun… serious fun. Artists enjoy their work, but first and foremost, artists understand their work to be focused, intelligent, and not easy. Artists are among the hardest working people on the planet because the work they do is among the most important activities humans engage in. When we want to know about a people, their history, their culture, we turn to the fruit of the artist’s labor to tell us that story.


The arts are sometimes misrepresented as frivolous, unnecessary, an optional decoration. Yet, the spiritual, intellectual, cultural and… yes… financial benefits the arts bring to society are astounding. Consider this: half a million people visit our nation’s art museums on a given weekday, and that number jumps to almost a million on a weekend day (Time and Money: Using Federal Data to Measure the Value of Performing Arts Activities, National Endowment for the Arts Research Note #102, April 2011, p. 14).


Even that impressive statistic does not begin to reveal the impact artists have on us. Artists are trained to see the world in new ways, to make new connections and to invent new possibilities. In the creative economy, boundaries between art and other disciplines are rapidly blurring. Thus, artists today have more career choices than any other generation of visual artists in history.


Career Options


The fine arts and studio arts are among just a few of the career options open to artists. Individuals trained in art programs participate in the creation of our visual environment through many professional outlets:


  • filmmaker
  • fashion designer
  • book illustrator
  • interior designer
  • webmaster
  • graphic designer
  • painter
  • jewelry designer
  • forensic sketch artist
  • museum educator
  • photojournalist
  • game designer
  • art educator
  • theater set designer
  • special effects animator
  • performance artist
  • textile designer
  • sculptor
  • art critic
  • video artist
  • ceramicist
  • app developer
  • biomedical photographer
  • environmental designer
  • printmaker
  • architect
  • web advertising designer
  • medical illustrator
  • gallery director
  • retail display designer
  • public relations director
  • graphic interface designer
  • muralist
  • corporate identity designer
  • arts administrator
  • theater lighting designer
  • motion graphics animator
  • industrial designer
  • ad agency art director
  • publisher
  • costume designer
  • faux finish artist
  • exhibition designer
  • trade show display designer


If any of these options sound like something you aspire to, the choice of a major in art is a sound one. Most of these careers require graduate-level study, and an undergraduate foundation in art is solid preparation for master’s degree programs related to them.


BA or BFA…?


There are two academic roads the aspiring artist can take to a professional career: the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Fine Art. What’s the difference, and what does that difference mean with regard to career options?


The B.A. is a degree with a liberal arts emphasis. About one third of the B.A. is focused on studio work, while two thirds is directed toward studies of humanities, history, language: the classic liberal arts curriculum.


The B.F.A. typically reverses the ratio: two thirds of your work is studio, one third is liberal arts.


Each degree has merit. At Abington, we are committed to offering the B.A. We believe it is a flexible degree that provides our Art Majors with wider options and more intellectual rigor. It allows for great latitude in terms of graduate options: our alumni have gone on to graduate study in MFA programs in studio art, but they have also pursued advanced degrees in art education, medical illustration, fashion design and industrial design. It is a degree that prospective employers value: we have alumni whose liberal arts writing and communication skills have helped to land careers working in schools, design shops and cultural institutions like museums and galleries.


Life After College



You may have heard someone say "Your college years are the best of your life." For artists, the best is yet to come! Because artists subscribe to the idea of life-long learning, the career experiences arts graduates encounter can be even more creative and exhilirating than college. For a broader view of this experience, visit the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project website. At SNAAP, several surprising statistics explode a few of the myths about dire prospects for arts alumni:


  • Arts alumni are enterprising - more than 3 out of 4 start their own businesses
  • Arts alumni don't starve - they can expect a median income of $45,000 per year
  • 70% of arts alumni report find employment directly in the arts
  • Of those who don't, over three-quarters discover meaningful personal experiences in a continuing practice separate from employment


Jobs in the arts are on the rise, particulary for multi-media artists and animators. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, projected growth in demand for artists is expected to increase 12% through 2018. For those thinking about design careers, the prospects range from 9% to 19% depending on the discipline.


To explore our own alumni experiences, visit our Alumni page and read some of the testimonials of our graduates.