Fine art graduates develop a range of practical and creative skills, and gain valuable experience of entering exhibitions, competitions and building up a portfolio of work
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Fine artist
- Further education teacher
- Higher education lecturer
- Museum/gallery curator
- Secondary school teacher
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Art therapist
- Arts administrator
- Commercial art gallery manager
- Museum/gallery exhibitions officer
- Multimedia programmer
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
Start building up a portfolio of work while you are still an undergraduate. This should contain examples of your own ideas rather than just course work. In addition, enter as many competitions and exhibitions as possible and begin to get your work known.
Also try and network, making contacts who may be able to offer (or help you secure) commissions. If friends or family ask you to produce work for them, this can be included in your portfolio and in the list of commissions on your CV.
Voluntary work with, for example community art initiatives, can likewise be valuable. You may also be able to find paid art-related employment while studying, through projects at summer camps and activity centres for young people.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
Finding jobs in this sector is not straightforward. Short-term possibilities are available on a competitive basis and are a means of becoming established. Roles include artist in residence, developing art-related activities in schools, hospitals and prisons, or bidding for fixed-term funding to carry out a particular project or commission. Many fine artists produce and market their own work.
You can diversify by taking extra courses in art-related disciplines, such as graphics, or teaching, or become a 'portfolio' worker who holds down several jobs to support their creative work.
Fine art graduates may also apply for mainstream graduate jobs and training in a wide range of industries, such as banking, insurance, media and public relations.
Skills for your CV
Fine art courses build up specific practical and creative techniques, such as painting, drawing, print and sculpting, and working in a range of media. You will learn how to use different types of equipment and processes from hand tools and welding gear to digitisation.
A fine art degree also provides you with transferable skills that are valued by many employers. These include:
- the ability to develop individual ideas and collaborate with others;
- strong observational, research and analytical skills;
- creative problem solving;
- the ability to learn from criticism and be objective about your work;
- an openness to new influences and concepts;
- how to set up in business and entrepreneurship.
You will also show your work at competitions and exhibitions, providing experience of working to briefs, meeting deadlines and using organisational skills.
Fine art graduates may move on to a Masters in different creative subjects, such as illustration or art conservation, if their portfolio demonstrates an aptitude for this. Other MAs provide grounding in related areas, such as arts management, history of art and art therapy.
A postgraduate certificate in education enables fine artists to teach in a variety of settings. Shorter-term courses can develop skills that enhance or supplement expertise in particular areas or materials, such as glass blowing, smithing or handling a chainsaw.
What do fine art graduates do?
Almost a fifth (18.9%) of graduates employed in the UK are working as artists. However, 15% are carrying out further study either full time or part time while working.
|Working and studying||4.9|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Arts, design and media||27|
|Retail, catering and bar work||25.4|
|Secretarial and numerical clerks||7.4|
|Caring and education work||6.3|
For a detailed breakdown of what art and design graduates are doing six months after graduation, see What Do Graduates Do?
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.