Careers in Art

Posted October 13, 2011, by Helen Isbister

There is a plethora of careers available in the art world whether you are interested in creating, buying, selling, teaching, analysing or organising the masterpieces of tomorrow.

Another year. Another Archibald.

There is no time like Australia’s most prestigious portrait prize to get people talking about art. Every year, when the winner is announced a storm of controversy ensues with everyone from critics to the general public giving their two cents.

It might even get some people thinking about pursuing a career in art. Whether you are interested in creating it, looking at it, analysing it, teaching it or buying it there are many different careers where you can indulge your passion for all things creative.

Naturally artists are the centre of the art world (Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh and Rembrandt are to art what Pitt and Jolie are to Hollywood) but there are more jobs behind the scenes than you can poke a paintbrush at.

Artists spend their days using their skills and imagination to create what they hope will be masterpieces. They also work hard getting their art noticed and on the walls of galleries and private homes. If the paint, oil or charcoal isn’t cooperating and refusing to turn your canvass into a masterpiece, mix your artistic interests with other skills to find the perfect career for you.

If you know art inside out, getting a gig as an art curator in an art museum or gallery could be the way to go. You would be in charge of selecting art works, researching the work of new artists, organising art exhibitions and writing about art or artists.

If you have an eye for business as well as art, why not purchase your own gallery? You’ll be in charge of overseeing the artistic direction of the gallery while maintaining the business side, so it’s important to have a broad understanding of art, art history and marketing.

Galleries and museums also need the expertise of many art specialists to function. Art appraisers evaluate the value, authenticity and condition of art; art buyers spend their days purchasing pieces of fine art; and art conservators use their knowledge of art and science to preserve artwork and antiques.

Being able to talk intelligently about why a solid black canvass is a stroke of pure genius, could find you in high demand as an art critic, writing about art and artists in all types of publications.

If you enjoy spreading the knowledge, there are heaps of jobs for art teachers in schools, TAFEs, universities and independent art programs. You could be teaching the trade to the top artists of tomorrow.

There are also jobs in art that most people wouldn’t even know existed! An art therapist uses art as a healing tool to help people deal with stress, traumatic experiences and illness.

Working with art is essentially a creative occupation, but in many cases it also requires knowledge of business, history and other fields. There are lots of courses available at both TAFE and university where you can learn the tricks of the trade.

The Archibald Exhibition is showing at the Art Gallery of New South Wales from 7 March to 24 May 2009.

Helen Isbister

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