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Fine artist

Fine artists create original works of art using methods like painting, drawing and sculpture.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need a high level of skill and talent in your chosen art form.
You may need some training in art or design, like an HND, first or higher degree in:

  • art and design
  • art history with fine art
  • fine art
  • visual art

You’ll also need to be able to promote yourself in different ways, like:

  • having an online presence through your own website, blog or through social media, like Instagram
  • joining together with other artists or ‘collectives’
  • organising your own shows in galleries or other venues
  • volunteering with community arts projects

You could also:

  • get an agent
  • raise funds through crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter
  • enter competitions and open exhibitions
  • illustrate products like books or greetings cards
The Society of Artists Agents, a-n The Artists Information Company, and Writers and Artists have more information on becoming a fine artist.

Creative Choices has more information about working in a creative career, training courses and job opportunities.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • a high level of creativity
  • a good appreciation of colour and shape
  • self-motivation
  • business skills to promote and market your work
  • the ability to cope with a changing workload

3. What you'll do

You’ll:

  • work from your own ideas, or a commission from an individual or an organisation
  • sell your work through an agent or through galleries, exhibitions, shops or online
  • research subjects, materials and new artistic techniques
  • network with agents, dealers, gallery owners and other artists
  • attend exhibitions and join artists’ groups

You might also:

  • work as ‘artist in residence’ – running classes and workshops in places like schools, prisons or hospitals
  • teach art classes privately, in colleges or through community learning
  • run local art projects
You could specialise in one medium like photography, painting or printmaking.

4. Salary

Your earnings will depend on demand and what you or your agent can negotiate.

You may combine exhibiting and selling your work with other part-time or full-time jobs.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll arrange your own working hours, which may involve fitting your art work around another full-time or part-time job.

You may work in a studio, at home, in rented space within a shared studio, or in specialist facilities like a print or sculpture workshop.

6. Career path and progression

You could move into areas like art therapy or art conservation. 

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Last updated: 21 December 2016