Female artist painting brightly colored red yellow and blue flowers and green grass on a canvas on easel

What you need to know


Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition. Craft artists create handmade objects, such as pottery, glassware, textiles, and other objects that are designed to be functional. Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create original works of art for their aesthetic value, rather than for a functional one.

What is an artist career like?

Many artists work in fine-art studios or commercial art studios located in office buildings, warehouses, or lofts. Others work in private studios in their homes. Some artists share studio space, where they also may exhibit their work.

Some of the things an artist might do:

  • Use techniques such as knitting, weaving, glassblowing, painting, drawing, and sculpting
  • Develop creative ideas or new methods for making art
  • Create sketches, templates, or models to guide their work
  • Select which materials to use on the basis of color, texture, strength, and other qualities
  • Shape, join or cut materials for a final product
  • Use visual techniques, such as composition, color, space, and perspective, to produce desired artistic effects
  • Develop portfolios highlighting their artistic styles and abilities to show to gallery owners and others interested in their work
  • Display their work at auctions, craft fairs, galleries, museums, and online marketplaces
  • Complete grant proposals and applications to obtain financial support for projects

Watch this video to learn more about what our role models do in their careers as an artist:

What skills are needed?
  • Artistic ability. Artists create artwork and other objects that are visually appealing or thought-provoking. This endeavor usually requires significant skill and attention to detail in one or more art forms.
  • Business skills. Artists must promote themselves and their art to build a reputation and to sell their art. They often study the market for their crafts or artwork to increase their understanding of what potential customers might want. Many artists sell their work on the Internet, so developing an online presence is an important part of their art sales.
  • Creativity. Artists must have active imaginations to develop new and original ideas for their work.
  • Customer-service skills. Artists, especially those who sell their work themselves, must be good at dealing with customers and potential buyers.
  • Dexterity. Most artists work with their hands and must be good at manipulating tools and materials to create their art.
  • Interpersonal skills. Artists often must interact with many people, including coworkers, gallery owners, and the public.

Watch this video to learn more from our role models:

What is the pay?

The average pay for artists in the United States was $52,910 in May 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

About 5,500 new job openings for craft and fine artists are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years in the United States.

Overall employment of craft and fine artists is projected to grow 4 percent from 2022 to 2032 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is about as fast as the average growth rate for all occupations.

Employment growth for artists depends in large part on the overall state of the economy and whether people are willing to spend money on art because people usually make art purchases when they can afford to spend the money.

What education is required to become an artist?

Most fine artists pursue postsecondary education to earn degrees that can improve their skills and job prospects. A formal educational credential is typically not needed for anyone to be a craft artist. However, it is difficult to gain adequate artistic skills without some formal education. High school classes such as art, shop, and home economics can teach prospective craft artists some of the basic skills they will need, such as drawing, woodworking, and sewing.

A large number of colleges and universities offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts. In addition to offering studio art and art history, postsecondary programs may include core subjects, such as English, marketing, social science, and natural science. Independent schools of art and design also offer postsecondary education programs, which can lead to a certificate in an art-related specialty or to an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in fine arts.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Fine Arts.

Watch this video to learn more from our role models: