The academic programs that make up the category of fine arts are a broad, varied group. The fine arts typically includes visual arts like painting and photography and sculpture, but they can also reference performative arts in some lexicons – although this is rare.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that although fine artists don’t need education past a high school diploma, it’s not uncommon for individuals interested in a fine arts career to to earn a degree as a way to hone their skills in a setting with peers and professionals. Most public and private universities and colleges offer programs in the fine arts, although the variety will depend on where you attend school.
A career as a fine artist can be rewarding, but for some it can also be uncertain: many fine artists work as freelancers on a pay-per-project basis.
Schools often offer an associate in fine arts, Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts or Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts in various categories. The difference between these degree programs is that the Bachelor of Fine arts and Master of Fine Arts are considered professional degree programs. They prepare a student for a career in their chosen specialization – by mastering the skills in that specialization.
A concentration requirement in a BFA or MFA degree program often replaces the elective courses that are required in the Bachelor of Arts or Master of Arts programs. Also, the Master of Fine Arts is typically considered a terminal degree program in the fine arts categories referenced above. It is the highest degree program that one can complete in the subject. In this situation, fine arts refers to a visual art, like photography or painting.
A fine arts major has several choices when it comes to their specialization. Across the country, schools offer fine arts degree programs with specializations in painting, sculpting and ceramics. Photography and illustration also fall into the fine arts category and are potential specializations for individuals who are considering pursuit of a fine arts degree.
While a degree in any of the fine arts specializations includes general education courses like mathematics, science, literature and a language, it also includes a variety of courses devoted to your chosen specialization. The bulk of your courses will focus on your specialization.
For example, a program in photography will most likely include study of black and white and color photography techniques, large camera formats and a senior project that may include an exhibition.
An illustration specialization includes courses in the history of illustration, design studies and studio courses where students put their skills to work. In these studio courses, they often master figure drawing and learn about topics like animation.
A specialization in painting and printmaking includes study of the materials used in printmaking, drawing and painting techniques, a study of space and the characteristics of various surfaces.
Ideal Candidates for Fine Arts
Fine artists are often perceptive and have strong visualization skills; they are creative, have good hand-eye coordination and an eye for mixing and matching colors. Fine artists must be patient, persistent and have confidence in their own skills and their finished product. They must be willing to work hard to build a reputation over time, and must be willing to wait for recognition on a large scale. A fine artist in any specialization must be confident and comfortable selling themselves and promoting their work.
If that sounds like you, if you’re comfortable working independently, managing your own work, fine arts may be a great career for you. This career path is good for individuals who are artistic, comfortable working with their hands and comfortable working indoors, as many fine artists work inside, drafting tables, painting easels or even bent over a pottery wheel.
Fine artists create works that are beautiful, not necessarily useful. These professionals display their works in galleries, museums and on the Internet; they also create commissioned works for clients. Often, fine artists have a second job, according to the BLS. In 2012, the BLS reported that between 2012 and 2022, jobs for craft and fine artists are expected to grow at a slower than average rate: just 3%. The agency noted that in 2012, craft and fine artists earned an average of $44,380.
Painters and illustrators use pen and ink, watercolors or oil paints or even charcoal to create their works. They work with clients, editors and other customers to design works that fit their client’s vision and the client’s purpose for the artwork. Painters, illustrators and sculptors often create portfolios of their work in order to attract new clients and further their careers. For painters, sculptors and illustrators, ONET Online reports that these fields could see slightly higher growth, and a higher median income. The growth rate is approximately 7% between 2012 and 2022; the median annual wage was $44,850.
Sometimes, photographers work directly with clients to determine the specific photographs they’ll take; other times, they work alone, taking photographs that speak to them and hang them in galleries for sale. Photographers need to know some business techniques, like marketing, as well as photography-related tasks, like enhancing photos for the best possible shot. Many photographers have moved away from the older silver halide film to the popular digital format.Photographers can expect to see a 4% increase in hiring over the decade, adding approximately 5,900 jobs. They earned an average of $28,490 in 2012.with these free online fine arts courses.