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Artist

Artists make art to express what they are feeling or thinking. They use many methods—drawing, painting, sculpting. They use an assortment of materials—different kinds of paints, pencils, pens, plaster, clay, and even computers. Artists' works may show objects, people, nature, or events.

Hours: Artists employed by publishing companies, advertising agencies, and design firms generally work a standard workweek. During busy periods, they may work overtime to meet deadlines. Self-employed artists can set their own hours. They may spend much time and effort selling their artwork to potential customers or clients and building a reputation.

Opportunities: Artists hired by firms often start with relatively routine work. While doing this work, however, they may observe other artists and practice their own skills. Craft and fine artists advance professionally as their work circulates and they establish a reputation for a particular style.

Many artists freelance part-time while continuing to hold a full-time job until they are established. Others freelance part-time while still in school, to develop experience and to build a portfolio of published work.

Pay: Median annual earnings of salaried art directors were $68,100 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $49,480 and $94,920. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,920, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $135,090. Median annual earnings were $70,630 in advertising and related services. Earnings for self-employed artists vary widely. Some charge only a nominal fee while they gain experience and build a reputation for their work. Others, such as well-established freelance fine artists and illustrators, can earn more than salaried artists. Many, however, find it difficult to rely solely on income earned from selling paintings or other works of art. Like other self-employed workers, freelance artists must provide their own benefits.

Training: Artists usually develop their skills through a bachelor's degree program or other postsecondary training in art or design. Although formal schooling is not strictly required for craft and fine artists, it is very difficult to become skilled enough to make a living without some training. Art directors usually have years of work experience and generally need at least a bachelor's degree. Due to the level of technical expertise demanded, multimedia artists and animators generally also need a bachelor's degree.

Citation: Suggested citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition , Artists and Related Workers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos092.htm (visited July 22, 2009 ).

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