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Art as a Career Choice in New Zealand

Art as a Career Choice in New Zealand

When revealing my identity as an artist, I am frequently confronted with scepticism like "But it's not a real job," or the classic inquiry, "What's your 'real' job?" I find myself debunking the myths surrounding the viability of a career in the arts. The persistent stereotype of the "starving artist" persists. Yet, the reality is that success in fine art—crafting original, one-off pieces—is achievable for those who strategically navigate the challenges.

Professional Insights from New Zealand

In New Zealand, distinguished artists like Colin McCahon, Ralph Hotere, Michael Smithers, and Dick Frizzell exemplify that full-time careers in fine arts are not elusive dreams but possible pursuits. To sustain oneself as a full-time artist requires adaptability and harmony with self-employment. This often involves diversifying income streams, encompassing part-time work or establishing lines of goods and services that generate consistent revenue.

Navigating Diverse Artistic Avenues

Having personally worked part-time in an art gallery, taught night classes, and mentored artists locally and nationally, I've witnessed the necessity of balancing fluctuating art sales with supplementary income. Beyond these endeavours, my 'Boozehag' character artwork has evolved into a merchandise range, contributing to a stable income that allows me to continue my artistic practice without the anxiety of awaiting the next major sale.

While I have been a full-time artist at various junctures, life's complexities sometimes necessitate reassessment, especially with commitments like mortgages, children, and other expenses. Engaging in roles like working in art galleries has not only provided financial stability. Still, it has also afforded me a unique vantage point within the art business, fostering connections with influential individuals crucial to my artistic journey.

Diverse Career Paths within the Arts

The journey in the arts is not confined to being a painter or sculptor. Graphic and commercial artists play pivotal roles in media and magazines, crafting visual narratives. Website designers and computer-graphic artists contribute to the digital canvas, and the realms of animation, film, TV, and stage set building offer expansive avenues for artistic expression.

Exploring Professions within the Arts

In the rich tapestry of artistic professions, opportunities extend to teaching art, looking into art therapy, engaging in mural painting, face painting, photography, interior and landscape design, window design, framing, clothing design, and even hairdressing. Each path involves a unique blend of creativity and skill, contributing to the diverse spectrum of the fashion and design industries.

Critical Role of Marketing

The key to success lies in artistic prowess and effective self-marketing. Establishing a web presence is crucial in the contemporary landscape, with a personal website serving as a global showcase as well as utilising social media. 

Balancing Passion and Practicality

While financial stability is crucial, deciding between monetary gain and a fulfilling career should be deliberate. Art is not solely about making money; it's a journey of creative exploration. Choices must align with personal priorities, weighing the significance of a captivating, creative life against material possessions.

The Realities of a Fine Artist's Journey

Embarking on a career as a fine artist demands perseverance, hard work, and the ability to market yourself effectively. The contrast between creating commercially viable pieces and heartfelt artworks is a delicate balance that often defines success. The goal, ultimately, is to attain the stature where artistic freedom becomes a reality, allowing one to paint from the heart without compromising authenticity.

A Broad Spectrum of Art Career Ideas

In conclusion, art is expansive, offering a myriad of career avenues beyond conventional perceptions. The creative spectrum is vast and dynamic, from graphic arts to mural painting and photography to design. Whether you choose a job to pay the bills while nurturing a part-time fine art career or immersing fully into the challenges of being a top-tier artist, the journey is as diverse as the artistic expressions it encompasses.

 Here's an expanded list of art career ideas showcasing the diverse opportunities within the creative realm:

1. Graphic Designer: Crafting visual elements for media, websites, and marketing materials.

2. Commercial Artist: Contributing to illustrations and graphics in magazines, advertisements, and various media.

3. Website Designer: Creating visually appealing and functional websites for businesses and individuals.

4. Computer-Graphic Artist: Utilising digital tools for artistic expression, contributing to animations, games, and digital media.

5. Animator: Bringing characters and stories to life through animation in film, TV, or digital media.

6. Set Designer: Crafting environments and scenes for film, TV, and stage productions.

7. Art Teacher: Educating and inspiring students in various art forms, from painting to sculpture.

8. Art Therapist: Using creative activities to promote emotional well-being and self-expression.

9. Mural Painter: Transforming spaces with large-scale, visually impactful murals.

10. Face Painter: Engaging in face painting for events, parties, or as a summer job.

11. Photographer: Capturing moments and creating visual narratives through photography.

12. Interior and Landscape Designer: Enhancing spaces with creative design, balancing functionality and aesthetics.

13. Window Designer/ Dresser: Creating visually appealing displays for retail spaces.

14. Framer: Choosing frames for artwork, combining creativity with an eye for colour and precision.

15. Clothing Designer: Designing fashion pieces, from clothing to accessories.

16. Hair Stylist: Expressing creativity through hairstyling and design.

17. Art Gallery or Museum Worker: Curating, managing, and promoting art collections in cultural institutions.

18. Arts Marketing Specialist: Utilising marketing skills to promote artists, exhibitions, and creative events.

19. Art Blogger or Critic: Sharing insights and analyses on art through writing and online platforms.

20. Art Event Coordinator: Planning and organising art-related events, exhibitions, and workshops.

21. Art Conservator/Restorer: Preserving and restoring artworks to maintain their longevity and integrity.

22. Art Auctioneer: Facilitating the sale of artworks through auctions.

23. Art Consultant: Advising individuals or businesses on art selection and investment.

24. Art Appraiser: Assessing the value of artworks for various purposes, including sales and insurance.

25. Art Supplies Store Owner: Managing and owning a store that provides art materials to artists.

Remember, these are just a few possibilities, and the art world offers many opportunities catering to various interests and skills. Whether you choose a traditional path or explore unconventional roles, aligning your career with your passion for creativity is the key.

Check out my other articles on art for career artists such as understanding copyright

Posted: Saturday 9 January 2010


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