How to land a career in art in 2019: everything you need to know


Believe it or not, the creative sector is one of the fastest growing parts of the British economy. So much so, that in 2017, the value of the sector stood at £101.5bn — which was a significant increase from its £94.8bn valuation back in 2016.

Although many will tell you that there’s no jobs in the arts, you’d be surprised at the figures. There were around 80,000 jobs created in 2017, and that figure doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

The sector includes many different areas though: advertising and marketing, architecture, crafts, design (product, graphic and fashion), film, television, video, radio and photography, IT, software and computer services, publishing, museums, galleries and libraries, music, performing and visual arts, animation and visual effects, video games and heritage.

Each role within these industry’s require creativity. However, one area (or talent) that can relate to all of these diversified roles is art. People are interested in this too, as the phrase ‘art jobs’ has around 40,500 searches per month on Google, which has notably increased over time. This highlights that there is an interest for paid work, and for many, that means transforming their current hobby into an actual income.

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You must have the drive

There’s a lot of way you can show off your passion in this industry. If you love what you do, you’ll welcome mass appreciation from others in the same field.

Talent in the creative arts is extremely subjective though. When it comes to unleashing your creativity, you need to offer a message in everything that you do. You need to tell a story, sell an experience, and be thought provoking while offering some sort of vulnerability in your work. Art is all about empowering every emotive feeling in your body and is definitely not about getting the perfect shot in the gallery for social media.

Learning the ropes

School is important, no matter which industry you want to work in. It wouldn’t be fair to say that grades aren’t important and can open up a lot of doors, but it’s important to understand that they don’t determine your future.

The beginning stages of art usually comes down to taking it as a subject at GCSE level. Following the grade that they receive, this will determine whether they can then continue the subject as an A-Level, or at college where they will likely complete a Level 3. Students may have to sit a Level 2 at college if they failed their GCSE — however, this will be determined by the course leaders and a strong portfolio could push you straight onto Level 3.

These courses usually last around two years, but if you fail one year, you will need to re-sit. During this time, you’ll likely host your own exhibition with other students and showcase your work to the public. This is an amazing thing to include on your CV and personal statement when it comes to the next academic step… university!

People will argue that you don’t need to go to university to have a career in art. In the last five years, there has been an evident decrease in the number of UCAS applications for Creative Arts and Design. The deadline analysis from January 2019 found that only 215,330 applied, in comparison to the 224,630 that applied the same time last year.

If you’re studying a history of art degree, your course will be heavily theory-based with a lot of written work. However, if you’re studying a subject such as fine art, expect this to be more practical with workshop-led lessons and tasks that may contribute to your final grade. Most undergraduate art courses last for three years in the UK — however, if you study abroad, this could be up to four years.

Top universities for creatives:

1.       Royal College of Art

2.       University College London

3.       University of the Arts London

4.       Goldsmiths, London

5.       The Glasgow School of Art

6.       Loughborough University

7.       University of Oxford

8.       University of Brighton

9.       Edinburgh College of Arts

10.   Lancaster University

Apprenticeships are another option. This is for the artists who know exactly what they want to get into — whether this is costume design, graphics, visual effects, animation, product development or more. The number of apprenticeships available are endless, and the stigma around getting them has finally been removed.

The best part about this route is that you’ll be able to learn from people doing the job. You’ll likely be working full time and 100% be earning a wage too. From this experience, you’ll be able to work on real-life projects and familiarise yourself with the working environment of your respected field.