So you've got an art degree, what next?
Following last week’s article about the value of receiving a formal art education, I thought it would benefit readers if I outlined some of the career options available to persons who choose to venture down this path with the hope of creating a sustainable practice for themselves. Contrary to popular belief, there are endless career possibilities for persons with an art degree and that range extends far beyond the confines of a messy studio. In fact, I would go even further to say that we (Guyanese) have done ourselves a huge disservice by limiting our own understanding of the scope of art. But before any attempt is made to remedy this, it’s important to first acknowledge that all art degrees are not created equally. While a decent art education should cover most (if not all) fine art disciplines, some have a much stricter and limited focus. Therefore, a thorough assessment of your own degree is necessary in order to determine how far it could take you and which doors it can open in the process.
Most persons here work under the assumption that if they wish to continue in the same creative field post-graduation their options are quite limited, with the more popular career choices being teaching, painting or graphic design. But in the grander scheme of things, there are hundreds of career possibilities for someone in the creative field. Those possibilities are multiplied even further when STEM skills are brought into the fold, increasing job possibilities for creative individuals with training applicable to various tech fields. Ideally, your art degree, whether BFA or MFA, should be a good balance of practical and theoretical components, thereby increasing your ability to cross over into multiple fields as you wish. So whether you choose a career that specialises in a fine art practice, art education or art and technology, your training would have, in most cases, prepared you to transition easily into any of those fields (or any combination of fields as is the case most times).
For those persons interested in continuing their studio practice the following career options are available for consideration: painter, sculptor, ceramist, jeweller, glass blower, illustrator (architectural, book or comics), printmaker, cartoonist, sketch artist, tattoo artist, mural artist, special effects makeup artist, installation artist and multi/mixed media artist. There are also career options out there for persons to provide products and services to other artists, for example, art supplies retailer and picture framer etc. These two, in particular, represent an incredibly under-developed market in Guyana with great potential.
Digital and multimedia majors, on the other hand, can choose from the following: advertising director, creative director, graphic designer, sign painter, magazine or newspaper layout artist, book designer, product and/or packaging designer, typographer, photographer (portrait, product, wedding, stock, fine art etc.), photojournalist, director of photography, videographer, photo re-toucher, web designer, film/video editor, user interface designer, animator, digital 3D modeler, app designer, video game designer/developer, special effects designer, television/film producer, industrial designer, urban designer, set/stage designer and interior designer.
Fashion majors have the following options: textile artist, fiber artist, fashion designer, accessory designer, fashion consultant, fashion merchandising and costume designer and personal stylist.
For those interested in taking a more academic route these are a few options to consider:arts administrator, art historian, art librarian, art professor, art reviewer, art teacher, art therapist, acquisitions specialist, antique appraiser, antiques refinisher, art appraiser, art gallery curator, art gallery owner, art gallery manager, art gallery assistant, artists’ agent, museum archivist, museum curator, museum manager and art conservationist.
These lists were not meant to be definitive since I’m almost certain that many more career options could be added. Instead, they were meant to give a general idea of just how wide the job range is for creative practitioners. There are many unexplored options available that, for whatever reason, we aren’t trained to consider as viable. Now, of course, some of the career options listed might not be applicable to our particular situation here in Guyana, but they were included for the persons who are thinking of moving their practice overseas. As I mentioned before, no two degrees were created equally. Some will allow you to go a bit further than others depending on the institution you attended. But it should be noted that these lists were also created so that they could be used (hopefully sooner rather than later) as an opportunity for individuals and/or organisations with the means, to create new job markets here that could benefit both the artist and the public. There are many niche areas that would add tremendous value to our country’s overall creative production if only they were recognised as valuable and given the right resources to develop properly. It’s important for those who can, to find the areas of our arts sector that have been neglected over the years and use the creative training they would have received to bridge those gaps and move our country forward.
This article was first published in the Pepperpot magazine of the Sunday Chronicle newspaper on November 5, 2017. Click on the link to be redirected to their website: