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Arts and Design Schools

According to the website for one school for the arts, "The revolution in electronic communications, multimedia and entertainment has created a growing need for highly skilled artists and designers." Graphic designers today not only work in print advertising and publications, but may also be involved in website design and development. Illustrators do not draw artwork only for books anymore: With computer technology, they can use their talents as interactive gaming illustrators.

Career specializations for artists and designers

Today's artists have a wide variety of career and employment options. They may work from home as freelancers or independent contractors or be employed on staff by large enterprises. But wherever they work, they typically must be able to play well with others and meet deadlines. Clients, art directors, publishers -- anyone you work for up and down the food chain -- has a vision of what the final product you work on should look like. You have to be wise enough to know when and how to accept their direction even if at times it conflicts with your own creative vision. Some of the most important skills you need as a commercial artist are not just creativity and talent -- they are the ability to adapt, change gears and have work completed on time.

Talented artists and designers who have these qualities often find careers in the following areas of specialization, which may overlap, making it possible to cross over from one area to another with some additional training:

Graphic and interactive design. Graphic artists, or communications designers as they are sometimes called, work in print or digital media to visually communicate ideas. They may design materials that include advertising and marketing brochures, logos, packaging, corporate reports and webpages. Combining art with the use of software, they lay out text and choose fonts, select and edit images to illustrate text, create images from data to convey statistical information in a visual format and incorporate design and decorative elements to give the work a finished and eye-catching appearance. Some of the sub-specialties that graphic designers might choose include these occupations:

  • Typography designer
  • Visual interface designer
  • Advertising designer
  • Logo/corporate identity designer
  • Web designer

Illustration. Some illustrators work in pen and ink and make drawings that are scanned to produce electronic images, but more and more illustrators are using computer technology to create digital images directly. They primarily make illustrations for books and other publications, advertising and animation. Various types of specialties that illustrators can choose from include the following:

  • Children's book illustrator
  • Medical, science, technical or nature illustrator
  • Book jacket illustrator
  • Police sketch artist and courtroom illustrator
  • Interactive gaming illustrator

Digital and multimedia arts. If being a part of the entertainment industry appeals to you, digital arts could be your field. Digital artists and illustrators work with 3D design, computer-generated images (CGI), graphic illustration and animation. Your skills could land you a job creating visual effects for movies, TV and video games. Computer animators must be team players who each contribute his or her part toward creating the final product. Occupations for digital artists include these:

  • Game designer
  • Concept artist
  • Animator
  • Storyboard illustrator
  • Production illustrator

Certifications and degrees for artists and designers

Talent and creativity do not guarantee an artist a paycheck. While some artists and designers can find work in their chosen field straight out of high school, few do. Many earn a bachelor's or even a master's degree in fine arts before looking for a job. The objective of any art training, however, should be the compilation of your portfolio -- or in the case of animation, a "reel" -- which showcases your creativity for prospective employers or clients. Earning a certificate from a vocational school may be one way to start the creation of your body of work, which is as important as a resume is to other occupations. Technical schools for arts and design offer certificates and include some of these courses in the following career tracks:

  • Graphic design -- basics of illustration and typography, color theory and Photoshop
  • Web design -- Web development, Internet systems architecture, JavaScript, graphic design for the Web
  • Illustration -- 2D design, drawing, various art surveys, portfolio development
  • Digital media -- digital media production, new media animation, video animation
  • Multimedia arts -- intro to motion, html and css essentials, Photoshop, video production, editing, After Effects
  • Game design and animation -- 3D graphics programming, game theory, design principles, character animation
  • Fine arts -- color theory, life drawing, painting, studio

Some vocational school programs allow you to add concentrations in other art specializations through an advanced certificate program.

Salary and job growth projections for arts and design careers

Employment growth for graphic designers, multimedia artists and fine artists such as illustrators is expected to be slower than average than for that of other occupations as projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) for 2012-2022. Average wages for graphic designers nationwide was $49,610 as of May 2013, with the top-paying jobs in metropolitan areas like San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Multimedia artists averaged $72,400 with the highest-paying jobs concentrated in Los Angeles and San Francisco. California, New York and Florida employ the most fine artists, which includes illustrators, and their average salary was $50,900 nationwide; however, those illustrators employed in the video and motion picture industries averaged $68,630.

If you have a passion for art and your heart is set on a career in design, pursuing a certificate or degree from a technical or vocational school could be the first step.

Sources:

Careers in the Arts, Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Career Development, http://www.mica.edu/Documents/Career%20Services/Careers%20for%20Visual%20Artists11.pdf

Craft and Fine Artists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/craft-and-fine-artists.htm

Digital Media Production Certificate Program, Emerson College, http://www.emerson.edu/academics/professional-studies/certificate-programs/digital-media-production

Fine Artists, including Illustrators, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271013.htm

Graphic Designers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271024.htm

Graphic Designers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm

Graphic Design Certificate Programs, Sessions College for Professional Design, http://www.sessions.edu/certificate-programs/graphic-design-certificate?utm_expid=10211580-17.1UF9IpjwRSKVHI5jZzybvw.1&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sessions.edu%2Fcertificate-programs%2Ffine-arts

Illustration Certificate, Prince George's Community College, https://www.pgcc.edu/Programs_and_Courses/Program_Detail.aspx?programID=6442462312

Multimedia Artists and Animators, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271014.htm

Multimedia Artists and Animators, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm

Multimedia Arts Professional Certificate, Sessions College for Professional Design, http://www.sessions.edu/certificate-programs/multimedia-arts

Online Game Design and Animation Certificate, Post University, http://www.post.edu/online/degrees/game-design-certificate/

Parsons Certificate Programs, Fine Arts and Foundation, http://www.newschool.edu/parsons/fine-arts-foundation-certificate-programs/

Temple University, About Tyler School of Art, http://tyler.temple.edu/careers-visual-arts

Web Design and Development Certificate Courses, UC Irvine Extension, http://unex.uci.edu/areas/it/web/courses.aspx

Arts and Design Schools
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Addison: 1221 North Swift Road Addison, IL 60101

Pomona: 901 Corporate Center Dr. Pomona, CA 91768

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Stockbridge: 675 Southcrest Parkway Stockbridge, GA 30281

Saint Louis: 11830 Westline Industrial Dr. Suite 550 Saint Louis, MO 63146

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Tinley Park: 18624 West Creek Drive Tinley Park, IL 60477

Duluth: 3505 Koger Blvd. Suite 170 Duluth, GA 30096

Long Beach: 3880 Kilroy Airport Way Long Beach, CA 90806

Charlotte: 2015 Ayrsley Town Blvd. Suite 109 Charlotte, NC 28273

Alpharetta: 2555 Northwinds Pkwy. Alpharetta, GA 30009

New York: 180 Madison Ave. Suite 900 New York, NY 10016

North Brunswick: 630 US Highway One North Brunswick, NJ 08902

Orlando: 4000 Millenia Blvd. Orlando, FL 32839

Nashville: 3343 Perimeter Hill Drive Suite 200 Nashville, TN 37211

Arlington: 2405 Crystal City Dr. Arlington, VA 22202

Elgin: Randall Point 2250 Point Blvd. Suite 250 Elgin, IL 60123

Atlanta: 100 Galleria Parkway SE Suite 100 Atlanta, GA 30339

Alhambra: 1000 S. Fremont Ave. Alhambra, CA 91803

Gurnee: 1075 Tri-State Pkwy. Ste. 800 Gurnee, IL 60031

San Antonio: 1919 NW Loop 410 Suite 150 San Antonio, TX 78213

San Diego: 2655 Camino Del Rio North Suite 201 San Diego, CA 92108

Naperville: 2056 Westings Ave. Suite 40 Naperville, IL 60563

Cherry Hill: 921 Haddonfield Road Ste. D Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

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Marlton: 2 Greentree Center 9000 Lincoln Dr. E, Suite 100 Marlton, NJ 08053

Troy: 1522 E. Big Beaver Road Troy, MI 48083

Saint Rose: 140 James Drive East Saint Rose, LA 70087

Dearborn: 19855 W. Outer Drive, Suite L10W Dearborn, MI 48124

Murray: 920 West LeVoy Drive Murray, UT 84123

Old Forge: 1000 Meade Street Old Forge, PA 18518

Nashville: 2845 Elm Hill Pike Nashville, TN 37214

Cordova: 7260 Goodlett Farms Parkway Cordova, TN 38016

Jacksonville: 7011 A.C. Skinner Parkway, Suite 140 Jacksonville, FL 32256

Norwood: 333 Providence Highway Norwood, MA 02062

Plymouth Meeting: 220 W. Germantown Pike, Suite 100 Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

Owings Mills: 11301 Red Run Boulevard Owings Mills, MD 21117

Harrisburg: 449 Eisenhower Blvd., Suite 100 Harrisburg, PA 17111

Getzville: 2295 Millersport Highway, P.O. Box 327 Getzville, NY 14068

Webster: 1001 Magnolia Ave. Webster, TX 77598

Clovis: 362 N. Clovis Avenue Clovis, CA 93612

Henderson: 168 N Gibson Road Henderson, NV 89014

Eden Prairie: 8911 Columbine Road Eden Prairie, MN 55347

Kennesaw: 1000 Cobb Place Boulevard NW Kennesaw, GA 30144

Youngstown: 1030 North Meridian Road Youngstown, OH 44509

Everett: 1615 75th Street SW Everett, WA 98203

Tarentum: 100 Pittsburgh Mills Circle Suite 100 Tarentum, PA 15084

Albuquerque: 5100 Masthead Street NE Albuquerque, NM 87109

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