Fine artists create original work such as drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, carvings, sculptures, linocuts, lithographs, screenprints, and computer-aided digital graphics.
Most artists specialise in a particular subject: abstracts, portraits or landscapes, for example. Fine artists may create works out of their own imagination, to express their own ideas or their own response to experience. They may then seek out a buyer for the work. Artists with an established reputation are sometimes commissioned (hired in advance at a fee) to produce a piece of work to a required theme.
Creating works of art may involve any of the following:
Promoting and selling works of art may involve:
Other ways of earning money from fine art include:
Salaries for artists vary widely as sales depend on contacts, current tastes in the art world, and the quality of work.
Most artists are self-employed and therefore set their own hours of work. They often put in long hours, including weekends and evenings, to complete a commission or build a portfolio.
Artists with a residency usually work regular hours during the teaching part of their week. Sometimes they run evening or weekend workshops.
They may work from home or in a studio, which they own or rent either alone or with a group of artists. Purpose-built studios are usually light and airy.
Some artists may work outdoors - for example, when producing landscapes or murals.
Some specialised work may involve climbing on scaffolding and working from heights.
Artists regularly travel to attend arts events either in the UK or abroad.
It is difficult to give an average salary for a fine artist as there is so much variation. The online Artist's Fees Toolkit guide on the Artists Information Company website gives ways to decide rates to charge.
Only a few well-established artists support themselves financially from their art work alone. Most artists supplement their income from related jobs.
There are few vacancies for artists. Most artists continually network to market their work on a piece-by-piece basis.
The Crafts Council established the Next Move scheme, funded by NESTA, to provide recent graduates with the space to work, funds for materials, and careers advice from people established in their field. Such schemes can provide a fast-track start to artists' careers, launching them into art and craft markets and awards.
Once established, they may get commissions from organisations or even from individuals. In smaller towns, shops specialising in arts and crafts or restaurants may agree to exhibit smaller pieces for sale.
Few artists manage to entirely support themselves by selling their work. Most take on other work as art teachers, illustrators, gallery workers, arts journalists, and creative consultants.
Although freelance artists do not need formal training, in practice most have a qualification such as a degree or HND in art and design or fine art. These are offered across the UK in universities and art colleges.
Art courses are for people creating objects whose main function is their aesthetic appeal. Design courses are for people creating objects with both practical use and aesthetic appeal. Design courses usually have some technical content.
Some colleges or universities may offer places to applicants without formal qualifications, but with a good portfolio. However, most courses require five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3). In many cases, A levels/H grades are needed. In all cases, the applicant must also offer a strong, varied portfolio of work.
Postgraduate courses in fine art are also widely available.
Training usually means gaining experience and developing new styles, perhaps with the help of a mentor (a more established artist).
Arts organisations run schemes to pair artists with mentors.
There are also postgraduate courses in various specialisms.
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
Artists need to have:
There is no recognised career path. Success depends on sales and therefore on an artist's reputation with curators, gallery owners or collectors. With the establishment of a reputation, there are more likely to be commissions and residencies.
The residencies offered by public bodies usually run for two or three years. They require the artists to carry out some kind of part-time teaching in exchange for a salary and, perhaps, studio space to carry on their own projects. Residencies can be based either in the UK or abroad.
The Arts Council of England,
14 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 3NQ
Tel: 0845 300 6200
Arts Council of Wales,
9 Museum Place, Cardiff CF10 3NX
Tel: 029 2037 6500
The Artists Information Company (a-n), First Floor,
7-15 Pink Lane, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 5DW
Tel: 0191 241 8000
Arts Council of Northern Ireland,
77 Malone Road, Belfast BT9 6AQ
Tel: 028 9038 5200
The Association of Illustrators (AOI),
2nd Floor, Back Building, 150 Curtain Road,
London EC2A 3AR
Tel: 020 7613 4328
The Crafts Council, 44a Pentonville Road,
Islington, London N1 9BY
Tel: 020 7278 7700
Creative and Cultural Skills, 4th Floor,
Lafone House, The Leathermarket,
Weston Street, London SE1 3HN
Tel: 020 7015 1847
PO Box 2677, Caterham CR3 6WJ
Tel: 01883 371112
National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD),
The Gatehouse, Corsham Court, Corsham, Wiltshire SN13 0BZ
Tel: 01249 714825
NESTA, Fishmongers' Chambers,
1 Plough Place, London, EC4A 1DE
Tel: 020 7438 2500
The Open College of the Arts,
Registration Department, OCA, Freepost SF10678
Tel: 0800 731 2116
The Scottish Arts Council,
12 Manor Place, Edinburgh EH3 7DD
Tel: 0131 226 6051
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.