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Article: Art


This article covers the following jobs:

  • Advertising Art Director
  • Animator
  • Antique Dealer
  • Architect
  • Art and Design Teacher
  • Art Gallery Conservator
  • Art Gallery Curator
  • Artist
  • Art Therapist
  • Auctioneer
  • Beauty Consultant
  • Blacksmith
  • Designer
  • Florist
  • Hairdresser
  • Illustrator
  • Make-up Artist
  • Metal Engraver
  • Nail Technician
  • Signwriter
  • Tattooist.

The job descriptions are only a brief summary. It is recommended that you do further research on jobs that interest you.

Creative art skills

There are a few jobs where you need a high level of artistic ability, and are likely to spend most of the time using your creative art skills. The work produced may be for a wide range of uses, or just because it looks nice.

Advertising Art Director

Advertising art directors are responsible for the creative ideas, overall appearance and presentation of printed or online advertisements (ads) and TV commercials.

They work closely with a copywriter, following the client's brief.

The art director and copywriter produce a series of ideas with quickly drawn illustrations that are known as 'storyboards' or 'roughs'. They must think about what the text and graphics will be, as well as the overall look.

When the client has approved a rough idea, the art director turns it into the final ad. They might produce the artwork themselves but they are more likely to select a suitable artist to do the work.

To become an advertising art director, you usually need art and design training. Many entrants have a degree or HND.


Animators create imaginary worlds for film, television and computers. They use drawing, modelling or computer graphics to make pictures and models come to life, to entertain and/or inform people.

Animators usually follow a 'storyboard'. This is normally a series of rough sketches, and it tells the story which the animator is bringing to life.

Animators draw outlines of characters, taking each one through a range of movements and expressions needed. Model-making animators use plasticine, fabric and a wide variety of other materials to make models of characters.

There is no set entry route into this job, though many new entrants have a degree, foundation degree or HND in animation.


Designers work in a wide variety of areas, including:

  • fashion, footwear or jewellery design
  • interior design
  • product or packaging design
  • graphic design
  • craft (ceramic, glass or furniture) design
  • shop floor and window display design.

All designers begin their work by being given a brief, followed by doing some research. They then produce some sketches or ideas which they present to the client. If these are approved, they then go on to create a finished design.

They use a variety of materials in their work, but most designers use computers to put their designs together.

Designers who work for themselves or on small-scale projects in a workshop are likely to have more creative input than those who work in industry, designing things for mass production.

A common route into this career is via a Foundation course in Art and Design followed by a degree, HND or foundation degree in a design-based subject.


Illustrators produce paintings and drawings to accompany text in books, magazines, brochures and posters, etc.

Illustrators usually specialise in a particular area. They could be illustrating characters in a children's book, producing detailed drawings for a technical manual or medical guide, or making a product look eye-catching in an advert.

Illustrators combine elements of fine art and graphic art in their work, and many draw directly onto a computer using special software.

Illustrators need a degree in illustration or a related subject. Illustrators with experience who have worked in a commercial environment may also be able to enter this profession.


Artists use their creative skills to produce works of art, which they display for sale to the public, usually in a gallery or shop.

They use a variety of methods in their work, such as painting, drawing, graphic arts, printmaking or photography. They also use a variety of materials. For example, a painter may use oil paints to paint a landscape; a sculptor may produce a statue made of metal.

Often, artists use a combination of materials and methods.

Working as an artist is hard and there is no guarantee work will get sold. Many artists do other jobs at the same time in order to make a living.

Many artists are self-taught, but most do formal art training such as a degree or HND in fine art or visual arts.

Practical art skills

For some jobs, the amount of time you spend using your art skills may vary, depending on the particular task you are doing. Artistic flair is usually combined with practical skills, and the use of a wide range of materials, tools and equipment.


Blacksmiths make things from metal. They heat the metal until it is very hot, and then bend it into shapes.

Before starting a job, blacksmiths make a sketch or plan of how they want the item to look.

After placing the metal into a hot fire, they wait until it is hot enough to be bended and shaped. Once the metal is hot enough, the blacksmith will put it on an anvil.

Different types of hammer and other tools are then used to change the shape of the metal. The blacksmith then joins some of the bits together, for example, by soldering, welding or riveting.

A lot of the training to become a blacksmith is done on-the-job. Practical ability is often more important than academic qualifications.


Architects design buildings and stay involved in the building process until it is finished.

Most buildings are the result of teamwork and architects discuss ideas with other professionals.

Once ideas have been worked out, the architect sketches plans of the inside and outside of the building. After the customer accepts the design for a building, the architect does detailed technical drawings that the builder can use.

As building work goes on, the architect visits the site regularly to check that the work matches the drawings. Architectural technicians usually help them with their work.

It normally takes seven years to train to become an architect. This usually begins with a degree and includes two years' work experience. You need to be able to sketch and draw, but you do not need to have studied art.

Metal Engraver

Metal engravers cut designs and/or letters into all types of metal.

They decorate objects such as bowls, pieces of jewellery and clock faces. They also mark inscriptions or lettering for nameplates, trophies, cups, gifts and so on.

In industry, engravers produce signs and machine labels, control panels, dials and measuring scales for equipment.

Engravers cut into flat or curved surfaces, or use techniques to raise lettering or patterns from the metal. They may copy existing patterns onto objects or create their own designs.

Most of the training for this type of work is done on-the-job.


Signwriters paint signs using special signwriting enamel and brushes.

Signmakers produce signs using a range of materials such as plastic, metal, wood and glass. The signs are used outside places like shops, pubs, restaurants, railway stations and businesses, and on vehicles.

Sometimes, signmakers design the signs themselves. In other cases, they follow a client's design or their brief. The work also involves putting up the finished signs.

You train to become a signwriter or signmaker either by doing a full-time college course or a mixture of work and part-time study.


Tattooists use artistic and technical skills to make permanent images on people's bodies. They use a needle and tattoo pigments to do this.

The customer might choose from one of the standard designs available, or they might want something original.

If the tattooist is doing an existing design, they'll usually use a basic transfer which is put in position and used as a guide. Other types of tattoo are drawn freehand directly onto the customer's body.

The tattoo machine is then set up ready. The needles of the tattoo machine make little holes in the skin and the pigment fills these holes.

You don't need any qualifications to be a tattooist, as skills are usually learned on-the-job. However, some tattooists do art courses before training.


The following jobs involve communicating artistic skills to other people.

Art and Design Teacher

Art and design teachers help students to develop skills in a wide range of areas, including drawing, painting, sculpture, graphics, textile design and photography.

They encourage students to use their skills and imagination to get across ideas, feelings and meanings. They also teach students about the uses of art and design in history, and in different cultures around the world.

They plan lessons, mark work, write reports and go to parents' meetings. They also lead trips to places such as art galleries and museums, fashion shows and photography exhibitions.

To become an art and design teacher, you'll usually need to follow a relevant degree with a PGCE.

Art Therapist

Art therapists use art to help people deal with and overcome physical, mental, social or emotional problems. Art can help people to express themselves, explore their feelings and overcome their problems.

It doesn't matter how good someone is at art; the therapy is about using art to explore feelings. It can also relieve feelings such as frustration.

Therapists encourage people to use materials and methods such as clay, paper, paint and collage.

They work with people such as doctors, psychotherapists and nurses to discuss and keep track of the client's progress.

To become an art therapist, you need a postgraduate Master's degree in art therapy or art psychotherapy.

Working with art

For some jobs, you don't necessarily need to have or use creative art skills, but you do need to have knowledge of the art world. For example, this could be through taking a course in art history.


Auctioneers value goods that are to be sold at an auction and organise all aspects of the sale.

Some auctioneers specialise in one type of item, such as paintings.

The work involves finding a suitable sales room, arranging transportation of goods, producing publicity materials, valuing goods and conducting the auction.

Different types of auctioneering require different qualifications. You can enter some areas of the work by doing a relevant degree linked to a subject like art history.

Antique Dealer

Antique dealers buy and sell old and collectable objects to make a profit.

Some antique dealers specialise in certain items, for example, silver, furniture or paintings. Others buy and sell a mixture of items.

They buy from other dealers at antiques fairs and markets, at auctions, and from members of the public.

They use their expert knowledge to estimate the value of something they want to buy. They then negotiate a price with the seller.

Antique dealers advise customers on the age, history and maker of the item, and whether it has been repaired.

There are several ways to become an antique dealer. You could do a degree in fine art or history of art, or start collecting as a hobby, or join a saleroom as an assistant, for example.

Art Gallery Conservator

Art gallery conservators preserve objects such as paintings to protect them from damage and decay.

The work is both an art and a science. Conservators use craft techniques and scientific principles to treat the object. They check that the objects are genuine and put a date on them.

They may need to restore the original look of an object. They also control and check the conditions in which objects are kept.

Conservators use a wide range of instruments and tools in their work.

Art gallery conservators are graduates. Specialist degree courses are available at a small number of universities.

It can also be possible to enter with a degree in a related subject such as history of art, chemistry, biochemistry and materials science, followed by a postgraduate qualification in conservation/restoration.

Art Gallery Curator

Art gallery curators are in charge of a collection of exhibits. They identify, register and catalogue objects of art. They manage budgets, buy new exhibits, and organise funding and sponsorship. In small art galleries, they may also have contact with the public.

To arrange an exhibition, they choose which objects to display, and organise any loan of exhibits. They might write texts to accompany exhibits, as well as carry out research.

Art gallery curators usually need a degree in an arts subject, art history or museum/art gallery studies. Many entrants also have a postgraduate qualification in museum/art gallery studies.

Where knowledge of art might be useful

Understanding different aspects of art, such as how various colours, textures and designs work together, can be useful for some jobs, where you might need to show you have an artistic flair. For these jobs, however, you don't necessarily need to have studied art.

  • Beauty Consultant
  • Florist
  • Hairdresser
  • Make-up Artist
  • Nail Technician.

Further Information

British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT)

Address: 24-27 White Lion Street, London N1 9PD

Tel: 020 7686 4216




Skills for the creative industries



Creative Choices

Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills



Creative & Cultural Skills

Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts



Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

Address: 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD

Tel: 020 7580 5533



Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)

Scottish enquiries

Address: 15 Rutland Square, Edinburgh EH1 2BE

Tel: 0131 2297545



Chartered Society of Designers (CSD)



Design and Art Direction (D&AD)

Address: Britannia House, 68-80 Hanbury Street, London E1 5JL

Tel: 020 7840 1111



Association of Illustrators (AOI)

Address: Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA

Tel: 020 7759 1010




Address: PO Box 5, Driffield, East Yorkshire, YO25 8JD

Tel: 01377 255213


Getting into Art & Design Courses

Author: James Burnett Publisher: Trotman


British Sign and Graphics Association (BSGA)

Address: Northgate Business Centre, Northgate, Newark, Notts NG24 1EZ

Tel: 0845 3383016



British Artist Blacksmiths Association (BABA)

Tel: 01526 830303


Institute of Art and Law (IAL)

Address: Pentre Moel, Crickadarn, Nr Builth Wells, Powys LD2 3BX

Tel: 01982 560666



Arts Professional



Publisher: Arts Hub UK


Writers & Artists

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc



Wales Screen


Cyfle (Welsh Enquiries)

Address: S4C Media Centre, Parc Ty Glas, Llanishen, Cardiff, UK, CF14 5DU

Tel: 029 2046 5533



Wales Arts International (Welsh Enquiries)

Address: Bute Place, Cardiff, UK, CF10 5AL

Tel: 029 2044 1320



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