Is there any hope?
January 29, 2009 8:42 PM   Subscribe

What kind of jobs are there for a Bachelor of Fine Arts (painting,drawing, printmaking) if they really want to do something in the art world? And not teach.

I've tried searching job sites, theres nothing available. Is there any hope that I will be able to use my degree? I am graduating in the fall of this year, and I am just wondering what direction I should be looking.
posted by itsamonkeytree to Education (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How about industrial design? An Industrial Designer is an artist attached to an engineering team who has responsibility for making the resulting product esthetically pleasing. It's an important job because engineers mostly have no taste and if they do it, the product is liable to end up being hideous.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:48 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I assume you're decent with Photoshop in addition to your conventional media work-- considered being a matte painter for a VFX house? A giclee printmaker? My Photoshop prof in college was a master printmaker in his own right with his own studio, an associate of the Tamarind Institute, and a bloody expert on everything to do with digital printmaking. He taught Photoshop because he enjoyed it-- his studio was raking in the real money.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:15 PM on January 29, 2009

Computer game development houses these days often use quite a few artists, doing things like backgrounds and creating matte textures.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:18 PM on January 29, 2009

Where you are can play a big part in it. In the North-eastern U.S. there are a number of very good print-shops that make artist prints. You could ask them. Also ask your teachers.

I know a couple artists who work in on movie productions, painting sets and what-have-you as a side-line to what they like to do. These people actually live all over, from NYC to Austin To Taos. Similarly, I've known people to work painting 'faux-finish' and or working in the Museum of Natural History, or in a kids' museum/ exploratorium-type place.

You could also work in the studio of another artist. I once spent a couple months painting someone elses paintings. I know lots and lots of people who have done and are still doing the same. If you're in NYC, obviously, this is relatively strait-forward. Get in touch with artists whose work you admire, ask them for help. People like helping, especially if you're polite about asking.

I also knew a portrait painter who made an OK living literally painting people's pportraits - he was very very good and very very odd. I always suspected he had a side-line forging paintings for an insane collector we both knew. This line I would not recommend.

Good luck!
posted by From Bklyn at 2:13 AM on January 30, 2009

It's an important job because engineers mostly have no taste and if they do it, the product is liable to end up being hideous.

I resent that, but it doesn't mean it's untrue. Anyway, industrial designers are responsible for the vast majority of products on shelves nowadays. If I were in your position that's what I'd want to do (seriously, that job is awesome), but then again, I'm an engineer so I may be biased.

I've tried searching job sites, theres nothing available. Is there any hope that I will be able to use my degree?

These ideas are not mutually exclusive. In my experience, as the SO of an art person, the vast majority of art jobs are not advertised anywhere -- for the most part, it's the connections you have/make that get you into a position where you can get a job. If you know someone who knows someone who knows someone... well, you're that much closer to being able to find work. The problem is getting your foot into the door wherever you live.

If your skills are more in the fine arts, like illustration or painting or whatever, try to network and meet other artists and see what they're doing. Most likely, if you want to stay in the "art world" you'd probably work in another artist's studio, or a movie production house, or whatever. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, serious artists have to work a second job in a totally unrelated field to finance their artistic endeavors until they can really break out.

If you're in something a little more specialized/technical like printmaking or graphic design, you might have a better time finding a more "traditional" job. You will probably have to develop connections to get into those positions, though.

In short, art jobs are much more based on who you know and what your portfolio looks like than anything else. The more people you know and the better your portfolio, the better chance you'll have of finding a job that you really like. Good luck!
posted by malthas at 6:06 AM on January 30, 2009

Best answer: Have you looked at Americans for the Arts' Job Bank? I have a BFA in a different field (theatre), and I find that industry sites will list industry jobs, where the big job sites would never have anything appropriate.

Also, I currently have a job in theatre administration, and I love it. I recommend looking for arts administration posts. Most of the time I feel like I'm supporting my industry and the community, and I'm thankful to be in an environment where people get what I do.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 6:43 AM on January 30, 2009

I graduated from art school about 8 months ago, this is in the UK, fwiw. It is hard to find employment that relates to your studio practice. Often I think there is a balance to be found which involves continuing your studio work outside school and balancing that with a job that is unrelated. I'm doing this at the moment, working a paid job around 30 hours a week and fitting studio time around that. I'm managing to supplement my income through sales of work in the studio.

So I suppose it depends whether you want to continue making the work you make and finding a position which would enable that, or find an industry job in which some of your skills could be put to use. The suggestions for the industry route so far have been good. I also would suggest things like theatre work and scenery painting, these posts come up every so often. Also artist's residencies can be very rewarding, although they sometimes do involve some teaching/outreach work.

I agree with malthas that a lot of the jobs which are available are to do with who you know, so I think it's important to try and maintain contacts that you make from school. If you decide to pursue a career which involves continuing making work you need to quickly learn the art of the application form. Whether this is for funding, competitions, open submissions, group shows, residencies or whatever - everyone will want you to be able to describe your interests and work well.

One good starting point with some guides is from A-N (Artists' Newsletter - some subsciption only content).

Good luck.
posted by multivalent at 3:27 AM on January 31, 2009

Response by poster: I should add money is not an issue if I could make at least minimum wage it would work.
posted by itsamonkeytree at 12:12 AM on February 1, 2009

The museum and art gallery sector, specifically curation or art production; charity/organisations focused on commissioning public art is another possibility. My friends with a fine art background found junior administrative posts in the museum/gallery sector a good place to start.
Nearly all universities (in the UK) have careers service for graduating students, which can be very helpful. If you don't have this service, then it might help to seek advice from your tutor if possible. Good Luck:)
posted by tokidoki at 12:40 PM on February 2, 2009

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