Arts and Design
With the move to digital tools and techniques in the last two decades, the arts and design fields have experienced perhaps their largest changes since the invention of the printing press in the 15th century.
Those interested in pursuing careers in the arts and design fields should now possess not only strong creative and artistic sensibilities, but also the knowledge and skills necessary to work with the digital tools that are the standard in today's design world.
That being said, there are many opportunities for students seeking a design education and preparation with relevant creative tools. Academic and career preparation programs are available at all levels, from certificate programs, up through associate's and bachelor's degree programs, all the way to master's degree programs focused on advanced, independent, creative work.
For students seeking entry-level careers in the arts and design field, the most common program that could help with the pursuit of such careers is likely either an associate's or bachelor's degree-level program at a community college, traditional college, art school, or other educational institution.Associate's degree programs could last between 18 months and two years, while bachelor's degree programs could last four years, depending on school and course load.
In one of these degree-granting programs, students could study such common subjects as art history, principles of design, studio art, history of photography, and film studies. Often, basic classes such as these are taken in the first part of a program, and later students choose a sub-discipline on which to focus their studies.
Some of the sub-disciplines within the arts and design fields include:
Computer Aided Design (CAD)
Music and Audio Production
Web Design and Development
Video Game Design
Once a student has narrowed down his or her focus within the design field, the final steps in an education could include mastering the relevant tools, creating a portfolio of creative work, and exploring potential career options.
Art and design schools might offer preparation with industry-current tools as an integral part of their curricula. Courses in specific tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, 3-DS Max, and others are common, and many artists continue to learn and hone their skills with their field's tools throughout their careers.
The portfolio is an assemblage of a student's creative work, often created in the course of an academic program, which demonstrates the student's creative ability. It is very common for a student in the arts and design field to build a portfolio, but portfolios come in all shapes and sizes, and could include anything from books of printed work to reels of film and video work to web sites showcasing digital design. Many design schools often facilitate the creation of portfolios by their students by structuring coursework around portfolio-centered tasks.
Pursuing a career in the arts and design fields is not always easy. There is a lot of competition for creative jobs. However, a strong portfolio and a willingness to blend business and creative concerns can be helpful when pursuing this career. The boom in digital and web-based design has created many potential career opportunities that did not exist in the past. With the right experience, artists who show an aptitude for management and leadership could potentially pursue higher positions within their organizations.
Average salaries for arts and design professionals could include::
Graphic Designers: $42,400*
Television, Video, and Motion Picture Camera Operators: $41,670*
Art Directors: $76,980*
Multimedia Artists and Animators: $56,330*
Fine Artists (salaried, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators): $42,650*
*All average salary data is from U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008.