What can you do with an art degree?
How does an art degree make you competitive in today’s job market? What kind of skills do you walk away with that will be useful in your career and life in general after school?
More than ever, today’s students are concerned about the practical application of their college degree, and art students are no different. Whether you love celebrating people and places through sculpture, designing for video games, illustrating children’s books, community-building using art, teaching art appreciation to others, or any of the myriad artistic goals our students have, an art degree can be a stepping stone towards a meaningful and productive life. Here are a few key examples of the valuable skills that you learn in the process of studying art.
More universal than any other skill on this list, an art degree equips students with the skills to navigate and influence an increasingly visual world. We are bombarded by images and videos that shape our world: ads, infographics, visual propaganda both true and false, and art that affects the hearts and minds. An art education empowers people to analyze this world of images, dissecting it to understand what underlying power structures are at play, how the historical legacy of an image might echo into the present, and most importantly, how to affect the way art and images will shape our lives in the future.
This might be one of the more buzzword-y entries students can add to their resumes thanks to an art degree, but what does creative problem-solving entail? Creative work by its very nature involves trial and error, exploring alternatives when it comes to concept, media, or execution. While artists might apply this thinking to their artwork while taking classes, this mindset can also be applied to any problem. When posed with the constraints of reality – constraints on time, money, labor, or resources – people who can apply lateral thinking to come up with creative solutions will always be valuable, in any industry.
Experimentating and Gaining Skills
ometimes it’s hard to anticipate where your academic and artistic path will take you, so an art degree will give you the time and guidance to experiment with new media, try unconventional approaches to familiar materials, and get exposure to artistic theory throughout history. A watercolor painter might discover that they love bronze-casting and metalwork, while a photographer might learn how to incorporate digital manipulation into their work in unanticipated ways, and a web designer might fuse art historical concepts into their projects. Exploration and discovery are all part of the process! At the same time, higher-level courses offer the opportunity to drill down into specific media, develop these new skills, and dig into critical analysis of artwork and its contexts. Technical prowess is an important part of your artistic ability, and the guidance of experienced professors will be a key part of advancing your skills.
Building Your Portfolio
One of the most important steps towards a job in the arts is building a portfolio that shows the full depth and breadth of your skills. Whether you want a career in the animation industry, a photography studio, or an individual studio practice, having a body of work that shows your full artistic potential is paramount. Art department faculty can identify gaps in your portfolio and help you present the best possible version of your artistic vision. For art history majors, having polished examples of your writing and research skills are an important aspect of pursuing both career and higher educational opportunities. And for art educators, compiling a portfolio of lesson plans will prepare you for the classroom armed with teaching ideas on day one.
Need advice on what sorts of specific jobs you can pursue? Check out the some ideas below.