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Finding painting jobs

My struggle is to find a well-paying job in art. I have a BA in studio art, however, I am lacking 2+ years in a studio that some jobs require. Does anyone have any resources where I can look? #arts #fine-art #artist #the-arts #art

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Sarah’s Answer

Hi Caroline! I have a BFA in Illustration so I know all about the struggles of finding well-paid creative work. My advice to you is to focus on freelance work if you want to be an artist. Put together a portfolio, set up an Etsy, enter juried shows, network with your local artist community, market yourself on social media and just keep making art! You can make a little money in the beginning and it will set you up as a working artist as you grow.

If you want to find a regularly paid job, there are plenty of opportunities for artists with technical skills. If you don't have any, spend some time learning graphic, web, mobile design, and UX/UI. There are plenty of affordable resources for this online. Join local meetup groups focused on these and you will build your network and learn.

I had to juggle fine arts work with commercial design work to earn a modest living. The better your technical skills, the more money you can make. Hopefully you can sell your fine art one day at prices that allow you to continue that work full-time if that is your goal.

If you want to work at a gallery, that is a possibility as well but you will generally start out as a low-paid intern or volunteer. Just try to get experience however you can and eventually it will lead to better opportunities.

It's a tough road, but if it is really what you want to do there are ways to make it. You may have to work in the service industry for awhile to support yourself but if you keep hustling you can get where you want to go. Good luck!

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Katie Rose’s Answer

Hello Caroline!

This is a great question. I have a BFA in Photography, and I struggled with finding photography/art related jobs when I first graduated college. While I was looking for full time work, I stumbled upon some online freelancing platforms. I created a freelance artist account and started submitting proposals for jobs related to my field, and even though it took a little while, I started winning small contracts. I designed t-shirts for a skate shop, edited wedding and baby photos for new couples and parents, and help design book covers for authors. Working these small jobs allowed me to hone my craft and actually learn new skills (like digital design and client relations), while building my portfolio. One of the contracts I was offered actually led to a full time position doing what I loved most, photo post-production and project management!

The biggest takeaway I have from my experience is to always look for and always apply to jobs that look appealing, even if you don't have the exact amount of experience that they're asking for (unless they want someone with 10+ years of experience). Keep making art, and keep learning new artistic skills (YouTube, Coursera, and Udemy are awesome resources), and try to volunteer and network where you can to build your connections.

As for resources, see if your local universities and colleges have art programs or clubs that you can network with. Reach out to your college and ask if they have any career mentors that can share their experiences. You may not be able to really utilize these because of COVID-19, but see if there are any local art co-ops or art festivals that you can participate in to build your portfolio and meet other artists.

Supporting yourself as an artist is a lot of work, but if you do the research and never stop, it is 100% possible to make a good living as an artist! I wish you the best of luck!

Katie Rose recommends the following next steps:

Google online freelancing platforms

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Stephen’s Answer

The answers by others here are all good. I will try to give a (very slightly) different way to think about it.

1. Do art work every day. People, whether they are employers or just anyone who might want to purchase art or commission a work, prefer to do so with someone who is already doing art work that excites them —"them" being the artist and everyone else.
So, you cannot wait for someone else to prompt you to do exciting work. You need to do it everyday.

2. Get your work out into the world. Get an online portfolio site and post on whatever social media you deem appropriate. When people see you in person, and ask you what you are up to, show them your portfolio. That is how I started getting portfolio commissions and representation from a gallery. People can't hire you if they don't know that you exist and are doing the kind of work that they want or need.
I also got the job that started my long and very successful graphic design career because of a self-initiated project.

3. Educate yourself about a wide variety of subject matter. Artists literally illustrate the world and all of the knowledge, feelings, events, etc. in it. The best artists are the best educated artists.

4. You have to connect and "network" with people who have the finances to hire you. I love my friends, but they will never have the money to afford to hire me to do anything. If you never connect with people with the money to hire you, you will never be hired. Again, by "hired," I mean for a job, a commission, purchasing a work, etc.

I hope that this helps, and good luck!