How to Become an Artist?

Are you thinking of becoming an Artist or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become an Artist, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Artist job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become an Artist

An artist works in an array of mediums including crafts, animation, fine arts, and desktop publishing as fine artists, graphic designers, animators, and multimedia artists. They may review concepts other team members such as copywriters and project managers submit, or create original concepts to work from. Here are six steps on how to become an artist.

Earn your education.

Formal education isn't necessary for every job as an artist, but many artists have at least a bachelor's degree. You'll probably need to have completed your high school diploma or the equivalent as well. If you decide to pursue a college education, you'll want to choose from majors such as a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, or even a Bachelor of Science in Art programs. Some classes will be available online, though art is a hands-on field, so you'll typically be required to go on campus for some classes.

It would help if you took core classes in art theory, art history, design, drawing, and visual arts to gain a good understanding. You can also take specialized courses in a particular medium, such as painting, drawing, ceramics, sculpture, photography, or printmaking.

What type of degree should you pursue to become an Artist?

71% of people working as an Artist earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be an Artist?

  • VFX
  • Maya
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Photoshop
  • Excellent Communication
  • Rendering
  • Pipeline
  • Illustration
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as an Artist in the United States.

Complete training.

Once you've completed your education, you'll need to gain experience in the field you've chosen. Experience primarily comes from creating art, trying new techniques, and practicing your existing skills. You can train with experienced artists, attend workshops, or take additional lessons to increase your chances of landing higher-paying jobs.


Choose your niche and explore your style.

Most artists choose a niche, which allows them to become proficient in one type of medium. Their client base and reputation will be based around this niche. A few types of these specialties include:

  • Sculpting.
  • Painting (watercolor, oil, acrylic).
  • Hand lettering or calligraphy.
  • Graphic design.
  • Photography.
  • Drawing.
  • Animation.
  • Textile arts.
  • Mixed media art.

Don't overthink this part. If one particular medium feels right to you, explore that.


Further your education.

Usually, an advanced degree isn't necessary to become an artist, but master's degree courses can help you further develop your skills. You don't have to pursue college-level courses to pursue your area of interest or develop your skills further. If you're an amateur artist, you may choose to explore your interests and further your skills by having a mentor, as working with established artists can be extremely helpful.


Create a portfolio.

Sharing your work with the world is a significant part of being an artist. It would be best if you had a well-put-together portfolio to get a full-time job, freelance jobs, and even commissions. This portfolio should be thought out carefully and contain some of your best pieces. A portfolio can be used as a marketing tool, as it allows potential clients to view your work and discover more of what you're about as an artist.


Apply for jobs.

Once you've put together your portfolio, you're ready to begin searching for jobs. You can search for virtual jobs if you're in a field that will allow you to do so, find galleries searching for new artists, or pursue any other area that will allow you to show off your creativity and skill.

Artist Career Path


2 - 4Years of Experience
$40K - $70K /yrMost Likely Range
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27% advanced to

Senior Artist

2 - 4Years of Experience
$64K - $100K /yrMost Likely Range
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Lead Artist

5 - 7Years of Experience
$44K - $74K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Artist Career Path

Artist Intern
Senior Artist
Art Manager
Lead Artist
Head Artist
Chief Artist
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Related Careers in the Arts & Design Industry

Interested in other Arts & Design careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Artist skills. Discover some of the most common Artist career transitions, along with skills overlap.

0% skills overlap
6% transitioned to Photographer